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What he brings to light creates a sharp and varied contrast to the serial façades: dreariness has been replaced by individuals, who have rescued their palms, baroque fantasies and eroticism by bringing them into their apartment blocks.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