In much of the western world, the mention of Transylvania evokes somber images of dimly lit Gothic castles and notoriously bloodthirsty vampires. The region in central Romania has long been faced with the horrors of Bram Stokers Dracula, an association that overshadows the region’s rich history.
Hungarian photographer Istvan Kerekes has spent the past 15 years polishing this literary connection by documenting the pastoral communities that have tended Transylvania for centuries. Bordered by the Apuseni and the Carpathians Mountain ranges, the hilly landscape is full of green and open pastures for sheep, cattle and other cattle to graze on. “When you go for a walk in some parts of Transylvania, you often have the feeling that you have traveled back in time,” he says. “There is hardly any trace of modern technology here. It is as if time has stood still while beauty and nature are preserved. “
Kerekes’ portraits and broader landscape shots capture the courage and determination of those who devote their lives to tending their flocks. Rotated entirely in black and white, the photos give an idea of the mutual bonds between the animals and their caretakers and how the traditional way of life is passed on from generation to generation. They are powerful and raw and show the tender embrace of a weathered man who cradles a lamb in his coat or wraps one of the animals around her neck like a child.
All pictures shown here are part of a virtual exhibition at Everything about photowhich runs through August. They are only a fraction of Kerekes’ larger collection, however, and you can see more on it his side.
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