Life in a Block of Flats:
Dolphins are leaping across the wall, their leaps frozen against the blue
background of the wallpaper. Then there is the reference to Alcatraz,
but the floors of the cells are covered with industrial oriental carpets.
People, like furniture, sit between furniture, but there is also a touch
of glamour in the chipboard ambience, not to mention the varied longings
in the interior of the housing blocks. No, the inhabitants of these Slovakian
prefabricated buildings probably do not behave as uniformly as might be
suggested by the exterior of the omnipresent high-rises filling the suburban
Built with the intention of providing affordable
housing for everyone, this industrial mode of construction quickly became
synonymous with a highly anonymous lifestyle, devoid of any individuality.
This is the point of departure in this photo-essay by the Slovak photographer
Andrej Balco. Who are these people in these prefab buildings? Is there
a prevailing type, perhaps even a prefab person? These unavoidable questions,
automatic reflexes, are a natural response to something as stereotypical
as the prefab high-rises, providing a starting point from which Balco
undertakes his photographic exploration of these stalls for everyday Slovakian
What he brings to light creates a sharp and varied contrast to the serial
façades: dreariness has been replaced by individuals, who have
rescued their palms, baroque fantasies and eroticism by bringing them
into their apartment blocks. A bit of heaven on a flat roof, a hint of
countryside in the garage, if only as a pig in the boot of a car.
— Robert Haidinger
East is the first of two volumes of photoessays celebrating Vienna-based Anzenberger Agency's 20th anniversary. The second volume, West, will be publshed in May 2009. East
contains remarkable photo essays from 17 of the agency's photographers
from Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and China.
Edited by Regina Maria Anzenberger
Text: German and English
Publisher: Moser Verlag München