Uncovered faces


Uncovered faces

2009 - 2018

digital phototgraphy, photography on b&w film


The dance of kukeri is a pagan Bulgarian tradition of Thracian origins. It is performed by men dressed in colourful hand-made costumes, wearing scary masks and leather belts with huge copper bells. Around New Year and before Lent they walk and dance through the village. In folk beliefs their masks, costumes and bells scare away evil spirits, provide good harvest, health and happiness. The masks should resemble faces of beasts as they are in folk imagination - a mixture of hamfull animal teeth, coat, fur and horns.

The traditional kukeri dance is performed by mature men who don’t take off their masks. In contemporary kukeri festivals there are children participating. While they wait for the time of performance, some of them take off their heavy masks. The uncovered faces show silent, focused and strong expressions, sometimes of introvert or unconscious states, which look surreal in the chaotic, noisy and scary setting of the pagan dances.