Those Boikos are the weirdest tribe the length and breadth of the Carpathians. No-one else is quite so troublesome. The Boikos are a little mute. They are not good at talking about themselves. And, just like the Germans do not call themselves “Germans”, they also do not call themselves “Boikos”. They consider “Boiko” an insult. They call themselves Verkhovynians, Rusyns, Galicians, but not Boikos. They might agree to the name “Boikovshchizna” for where they live, but anyway, not one of them knows the bounds of their territory.
In 2009, Jan Brykczynski wandered into a village in the Ukrainian Carpathians, just a few kilometers away from the Polish border. He returned there for three subsequent years. Gradually and slowly, he gained the trust of its inhabitants, isolated by the mountains from the rest of the world. Step by step, they have shown him their life, in which events happen primarily for magical reasons, thoughts can have causative power, white magic battles with the black one, and the good with the evil. For them, the most important thing is their tradition – they are strongly rooted in it, it gives them strength to live in the harsh mountainous conditions. Their everyday life is as much real and unreal for someone from the outside. It is most reminiscent of the archetypical images of rural life, still functioning in our culture. This fairytale, oniric and surreal aspect shows in the photographs of Jan Brykczynski.
The part of BOIKO project was among the finalists of the Fotofestiwal 2013 in Łódź. The complete series was exhibited for the first time at the Month of Photography in Bratislava in 2013, and then went to Anzenberger Gallery in Vienna. There was also an artbook BOIKO published in 2014 (available at Leica Store Warszawa).
Jan Brykczyński, (b. 1979), is a documentary photographer, based in Warsaw. He is a founding partner of Sputnik Photos. Scholarship holder of International Visegrad Fund and Ministry of Culture. Jan has won numerous photography prizes, such as 2013 The European Photo Exhibition Award and The Syngenta Photography Award. He is represented worldwide by Anzenberger Agency in Vienna. He lives in Warsaw with his wife and daughter.