stories

Directed by my intuition and subconscious impulses, I usually wander the streets of a city when I photograph. Sometimes I find a place that feels so special that it invites me to linger for a while. It can be the atmosphere, the historical significance, or the particular energy. A photo series allows to probe deeper into environments and people, which creates the unique feeling of stretching time.. and eventually gives space to tell a more complex story. 

 

METRÓ 3 | BUDAPEST

Line 3 of the METRÓ in Budapest was built in the 70s with the help of the Soviet Union. As the longest of the four underground lines, the M3 crosses the entire city. The M3 is currently being modernized, and half of the line is already under reconstruction.

Soon the last traces of Soviet European aesthetics will have disappeared from the cityscape: intense wall colors, playful design elements, dramatic lighting and the sheer space. Together, these elements create an atmospherically dense place full of theatricality and nostalgia.

Although people move in public space, each seems to be absorbed in his or her own affairs. Intimate situations or curious moments arise. The Metró becomes a stage.

 

#selfie | NEW YORK

The most psychedelic place I’ve ever been to is the Times Square in New York. After ascending from the dimly Metro station for the first time I found myself surrounded by gigantic neon signs with moving pictures and thousands of people – a total sensory overload.

After acclimatizing by simply standing still for a while my focus wandered from the dazzling capitalist promises on the walls to the potential consumer on the ground. Almost all people on the spot, mainly tourists, had one thing in common: they all were absorbed by taking selfies. Again, and again, and again.

I rarely observed a situation where the surrounding was perceived solely through the mobile screen. I guess such an iconic place is just irresistible to make that iconic photo, and through it become an icon yourself.

 
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distance | kazan

The division between Russia and the Western world has been growing for several years. Even though I was born in a Russian community in Kazakhstan, I myself have had harsh judgements of my own culture. This feeling of distance resulted in my choice to travel to Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia.

I found myself noticing that there is a substantial difference between Russia's political system and the lives of the people in Kazan. On the one hand the autocratic system creates a political climate of mistrust and erodes solidarity in the society, while at same time there is so much warmth, joy, and diversity beyond the distanced facade of the Russian people.

Unfortunately, that human side is largely hidden in private. It is reserved for home and is shared primarily with friends and family.

 

BUS OBSERVATIONS | KAZAN

The bus is the main public transportation in Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Republic of Tatarstan in Russia. Even though the car is the most prestigious way to travel through the city, the bus system is intricately designed and used by all sorts of people, independent of age, gender or social class.

During my stay in Kazan I used the bus daily. Not just to move from point A to point B, but to observe and to photograph the diverse passengers in this strange little microcosm. I was interested in depicting how Russians look like in daily life beyond the stereotypes we carry around about them in the Western sphere.

And it was a great way to gain cultural insights and to experience a form of intimacy with the Russian people without being intrusive.

 

WALL WRITINGS | RAMALLAH

During a project in Haifa in 2014, I decided to visit the Westbank. Naturally I was a bit nervous about crossing the border because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its depiction in the Western media, and the huge red signs at the checkpoints which warned the Israeli citizens about not entering the Westbank.

Upon entering Ramallah, a city with 30,000 inhabitants and located only a couple of miles away from Jerusalem, my perspective changed. I discovered a prosperous and lively city with warm people and positive energy.

The wall, built to protect Israel from terror, is also used as a platform for creative protest against the occupation.

 

CROSSING AT NIGHT | JERUSALEM

The Jewish Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem is probably one of the most atmospheric and unexpected places I've ever been to. I ended up there by coincidence, confusing the hotel address, and instead found myself photographing the area the whole night.

Even though it was past midnight, this crossing was filled with the constant traffic of people. Jewish men deep in conversation, women with shopping bags, kids with vivid expressions. It took only a few minutes to get an insight in the mundane life of a (religious) community that was out of reach of my personal sphere before.