Chasing Demons With Bulgaria’s Kukeri

London-based photographer Aron Klein’s ‘Kukeri’ series offers an intriguing portrait of tradition in an age of technology. Aron depicts the demon chasers of local folklore, the Kukeri, against Bulgaria’s mountainous Balkan region.

Aron’s ‘Kukeri’ series began after working as a photographer for the Meadows in the Mountains music festival situated in the Rhodope Mountain range located between Bulgaria and Greece. He fell in love with the tiny villages of this European corner and their celebration of ancient cultural practices. Performed by costumed men, Kukeri is a traditional Bulgarian ritual that is practiced to purify place; scaring away evil spirits and bringing health, harvest, fertility and happiness to the community. With gaping jaws and satan-like claws, the costumes are reminiscent of those from childhood nightmares and would fit seamlessly into Maurice Sendak’sWhere The Wild Things Are. Yet, through Aron’s lens, their devilish appearance is contrasted by the beauty of the elaborate detailing and vibrant accents which adorn select costumes. Others, completely shrouded head-to-toe in hair, are positioned as majestic beasts, who dance through the trees of the surrounding snowy landscape. Aron’s series is a captivating documentation of ancient folklore and contemporary ritual....more