Pepa Hristova

Sworn Virgins

28.02.2013 -

In the mountains of Northern Albania, the “Kanun” collection of laws from the Middle Ages applies. After that, families who have lost father and son can appoint a daughter to be the head of the family. These girls have to remain virgins and consistently switch to the roles of men. As adults, these burrneshas (sworn virgins) are highly respected and have great influence in the family.

Observation and staging are combined in the portraits of the Burrneshas. Obviously the pictures were taken in a home environment. In addition to the outdoor shots, it was possible to persuade many Burrneshas to take indoor shots, which shortens the distance in the situation and gives the possibilities of the image composition almost a studio character.

Pepa Hristova is concerned with photographic images, not with documentary or ethnological information. The recordings show the burrneshas in the picture frame of the landscape or apartment in which their life takes place. Small picture stories are reserved for this frame, for example the interiors, their noticeably clean and tidy condition, the flower vases and cuddly toys, the landscape pictures on the wall.

The landscape shots belonging to the photo series are characterized by an equally clear, sensitive visual dramaturgy. They show deeply graduated spaces in a natural landscape. These recordings show an emphatically balanced, often even symmetrical image composition, which clarifies the overall structure of the images and underlines the nature of this region, the character of the sublime and permanent as a basic pattern of order. Light and shadow are deliberately taken up as atmospheric phenomena that can instantly transform the mood of this mountain world.