Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jan Brykczynski / Around the Belovezhskaya Pushcha - the last primary forest in Europe

The beginnings were quite strange. I got kick out from the village in the forest that I wanted to photograph by the local KGB. They told me it was a Border Zone and that I had no permission to stay there as a foreigner. As I couldn’t really photograph the places that are inside the forest, as most of them were inside the Border Zone, that is 30km wide! I decide to change my approach and I focused on the surrounding area.
Belarus has no sea, no mountains, but it has the forest! And it is a very important one both for the Belarusian identity and for the ecology. There is a long tradition of the forest conservancy that dates back to 15th century. Recently president Lukashenko declared it the national treasure and encourages the development of tourist infrastructure. It is the last primary forest in Europe (UNESCO heritage!), and it is divided by the Belarussian – Polish border. Knowing it on the Polish side I was very curious how it looks on the other side and what is the relation of the local inhabitants to the forest.
I collected photos of the representations of the nature that I could find in the houses, offices, forestrys, and public space of the villages that surround the Belovezhskaya Pushcha. I looked for the items brought from the forest, the paintings and so one. That way I wanted to examine how the forest function in the Belarusian mentality, especially of those living next to it. My discoveries were quite unexpected… Here few photos and more about it soon!

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