FeatureLife in a Block of Flats: Suburban SlovakiaThis photo essay by Andrej Balco is an intimate view into the lives of people in old prefab apartment blocks in Slovakia. View Images
Life in a Block of Flats: Suburban Slovakia
This photo essay by Andrej Balco is an intimate view into the lives of people in old prefab apartment blocks in Slovakia.View Images
Life in a Block of Flats: Suburban Slovakia
This photo essay by Andrej Balco is an intimate view into the lives of people in old prefab apartment blocks in Slovakia.
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 landscape. 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 life.
What he brings to light creates a sharp and varied contrast to the serial façades: dreariness has been replaced by individuals, who have rescued their palms, baroque fantasies and eroticism by bringing them into their apartment blocks.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
Pato, 52, has been unemployed for a long time. He just gets occasional jobs and lives in the rented flat with his wife and four children. Kosice, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Massage salon in Michalovce, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Owner of the pub Alcatraz in Kosice, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Zuzana is awaiting the groom. Pezinok, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Apartment in Prievidza, 2004. © Andrej Balco
A gypsy family is carrying home a slaughtered pig in their old Russian Lada. Velke Kapusany, 2004. © Andrej Balco
An entrepreneur reads a book to her 10-year-old son at bedtime. Pezinok, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Daniela and Ladislav: unemployed couple smoking in a rented one-room flat, Pezinok, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Jan is resting on the sofa, Pezinok, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Girls taking a sunbath, Pezinok, 2004. © Andrej Balco
Skeletons on a balcony in Pezinok, 2004. © Andrej Balco
East, a volume of 17 photoessays from the Anzenberger Agency. © Andrej Balco
Trending this Week
Inked: Why I Love Tattoos
“I got my first tattoo at home. Just like that, on the sofa. I keep on going because there are so many good tattooists out there. It’s like collecting art. It’s an honor to wear their work.” Shifting from trashy to trendy, tattoos make the...
Advice for Portrait Photographers
One of America’s leading photographers offers his insights about making great photographic portraits.
Fire of Hatred
In Iran, some vengeful lovers, spurned suitors or aggrieved family members turn to the awful, violent act of acid-throwing to exact revenge. This portrait series gives a platform for the victims to speak out.
In My Backyard: Iceland
Set against the grand, wild majesty of the eastern Icelandic landscape, these searching self-portraits are one woman’s attempts to connect with herself and forge a basic understanding with her environment.
Rolling Stone to Christopher Street: 30 Years of Portraits
Rolling Stone’s former chief photographer Mark Seliger discusses his current series, “On Christopher Street,” while offering invaluable advice for aspiring portrait photographers.
Genderqueer: Outside & In-Between the Binary
Portraits of San Francisco’s gender nonconforming community — this striking series of intimate images raises awareness of an often overlooked and misunderstood subject.