Professional Commission First Prize Winner




© Jan Brykczyński / Sputnik Photos,  The Syngenta Photography Award 2013



Árnes is an isolated region in Western Fiords in Iceland where I spent an autumn month in 2010. This work was a continuation of my previous three-year project about a little village in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains. In both cases I was fascinated with rural life and its connection and proximity to nature. I wanted to examine this intimate and archetypical relationship. I was also interested in portraying a specificity of life in such a small isolated community. In Árnes you will find a small community of farmers who have chosen to only farm sheep. The people live off the land, as Icelanders have done for hundreds of years.

‘Far from bright lights and big cities, people in the Árnes region live surrounded by steep mountains and the waves crashing on the shore. In the Árnes region 38 people live in 15 homes all year round. In the whole area there are more than 2700 sheep. Life in Árnes is pretty set, every season has its tasks and chores. Everything runs on the everlasting circle of life. In the spring there is lambing season, in summer, tourists and haymaking, autumn brings sheep gathering and slaughtering, the wool is sheared in November and mating season is around Christmas. From January till March the roads sometimes close for days or even weeks due to heavy snow. Life sure slows down in the darkest months. Together they endure the winter, the people and sheep in Árnes. And then it is spring again. The circle of life continues.’(Extract from Iceland, The Icelandic Sheep, Icelanders, and the Farming Community in the Árnes Region in Strandir by Kristín Heiða Kristinsdóttir). 

Árnes is an example of a community that needs to cooperate to produce its own food. In that sense it is the same mechanism as in urban farming groups - modern tribes are being created voluntarily in the cities around the world. In both cases food production is in the center of their activities. Life in Árnes is also a balanced coexistence between man and nature which has lasted for centuries. The city farms are one of the ways to get closer to our natural roots that we often lack. Living in a small community also means to socialize with others. This creates the connections that influence other aspects of people's lives. The group is a point of reference for each individual, a source of support and inspiration and a place they belong. A close cooperation connected to food production in urban areas adds this important quality that, otherwise, is not obvious in the city life. I think that we do not only need healthy and accessible food to have a good life. Most of the people who live the longest on the planet come from rural communities where they enjoy a balanced life, healthy food, regular physical exercise, less stress and close friendships, among other factors. I observed all that during a few years that I spent working in small rural farming communities. Now I am very curious to find how the food production practices can influence the new urban tribes.

Jan Brykczyński, born in 1979, is a documentary photographer based in Warsaw, Poland. In his work he often focuses on rural regions of Eastern Europe.  Jan graduated from the Faculty of Photography at the National Film School in Lodz. He has been awarded grants from the Visegrad Fund, and the Polish Ministry of Culture. He is a founding partner of Sputnik Photos, the International Association of Photojournalists and he is represented worldwide by Anzenberger photography agency.





European Photo Exhibition Award / Oslo, Norway
Grand Prix Photofestiwal – finalist / Lodz, Poland


European Month of Photography in Bratislava - Winner of the portfolio review / Slovakia
Sony World Photography Award – 3rd prize in category Travel / London, Great Britain
Grand Press Photo – 1st prize in category Nature / Warsaw, Poland
Vienna International Photo Awards – finalist / Vienna, Austria
Lens Culture International Exposure Award, honorary mention / Paris, France


Minister of Culture and National Heritage - “Young Poland” award for young artists outstanding achievements / Warsaw, Poland


 Visegrad Found - artist residency in Kosice, Slovakia
 2007  European Cultural Foundation – grant for collective Sputnik Photos, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 2007  Grand Press Photo – honorary mention, People category, Poland
 2005  Newsweek Poland’s Photo Awards – 3rd prize in Everyday Life category, Poland






The Paper Curtain - Warsaw University Library / Warsaw, Poland


Poland (2009) School for Girls – Galeria Akwarela of Palac Mlodziezy, Katowice


Poland School for Girls – Galeria Obok ZPAF, Warsaw


Selected Group Exhibitions



Stand BY - Sputnik Association, at The Borderland Foundation, Sejny, Poland
Distant Place - Sputnik Association, Copernicus Science Center, Warsaw, Poland
Is (not) - Sputnik Association, Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Ireland
“U” - Sputnik Association, National Museum in Gdansk, Poland


Is (not) – Sputnik Association, exhibits in Poland
National Museum in Gdansk


Is (not) – Sputnik Photos Association, exhibits in Iceland
Gerduberg Cultural Center, Reykjavik
LA Art Museum, Hveragerdi
Menningarhus, Akureyri


Is (not) – Sputnik Photos Association, Photoport Gallery, Slovakia 





“U” - Sputnik Photos Association,
Month of Photography in Bratislava, Slovakia
Festival Contact, Toronto, Canada
Noorderligcht Gallery, Groningen, Holland




At The Border – Sputnik Photos Association,
Foligno, Italy
Festival Transphotographique, Lille, France



Young Eastern European Photography – Gallery brick5 in Vienna, Austria
House of Photography, Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia



At The Border – Sputnik Photos Association,
OSCE Human Dimention Implementation Meeting, Warsaw, Poland
2006 Belarus – Polish Parliament, Warsaw, Poland
2005 EU’s Eastern Border – international multimedia exhibition, Villa Decius, Kraków, Poland


Collective books

Distant Place, Sputnik Photos, Warsaw 2012
Stand BY, Sputnik Photos, Warsaw 2012
Is (not), Sputnik Photos, Warsaw 2011
“U“, Sputnik Photos, Warsaw 2010
Reportagealbum 01, Contemporary German & International Documentary Photography, seltmann+shone, Hamburg 2009


Press Publications
Die Welt, Cicero, Art, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, Vision of China, The Chicago Tribune, Possitive, Camera Austria, foto8, Lense Culture, Prism