Hyža bares the rich in the poor

JÁN Horochonič from the Ruthenian village of Kečkovce has been taking care of his invalid wife for five years. She has been bedridden since having broken her leg and weighs about 200 kilograms. Horochonič has a farm and must therefore take care of the horses, cows, and pigs alone. He evicted his children, who drank a lot, from the house. He leaves nothing to chance; he has even prepared for his own end by purchasing a coffin for his wife and himself.
Horochonič's story is one of the many similar life stories that are narrated in the photographs of Alan Hyža. Entitled People and Their Worlds, they are currently on exhibit at the gallery of the Slovenská sporiteľňa savings house on Zelená 2 in Bratislava until September 5.
The Slovak photographer, who has travelled the world, decided four years ago to turn his lense to his country's way of life. Criss-crossing Slovakia, he has documented the fates of people living below average standards, on the brink of financial survival.


HYŽA puts the ignored into the spotlight.
photo: SME -Pavol Funtál

JÁN Horochonič from the Ruthenian village of Kečkovce has been taking care of his invalid wife for five years. She has been bedridden since having broken her leg and weighs about 200 kilograms. Horochonič has a farm and must therefore take care of the horses, cows, and pigs alone. He evicted his children, who drank a lot, from the house. He leaves nothing to chance; he has even prepared for his own end by purchasing a coffin for his wife and himself.

Horochonič's story is one of the many similar life stories that are narrated in the photographs of Alan Hyža. Entitled People and Their Worlds, they are currently on exhibit at the gallery of the Slovenská sporiteľňa savings house on Zelená 2 in Bratislava until September 5.

The Slovak photographer, who has travelled the world, decided four years ago to turn his lense to his country's way of life. Criss-crossing Slovakia, he has documented the fates of people living below average standards, on the brink of financial survival.

"They are a bit different compared to the common person and that makes them photogenic. That's why they are interesting to me," Hyža said.

The exhibition of Hyža's black and white photographs was organised by Slovenská sporiteľňa and the Ekopolis foundation. One of the events at the exhibition's opening on August 23 was a charity auction of Hyža's pictures from Portugal, the proceeds of which were donated to support the Greenways grant programme run by the foundation.

According to Hyža, cooperating with the foundation attracted him because of its mission - helping people and activists not out of a desire for profit but out of sincere interest.

"Many people ask me why I take pictures of odd people. Well, it's because they live among us too. By ignoring them we will not change anything," he said.

The 40-year-old photographer, born in Levoča, currently works for the weekly Plus 7 dní. He has won eight Czech Press Photo awards. Cooperating with publicist Peter Kubínyi for over a decade, he documented life in the post-communist countries, which resulted in two books being published: Ríša zla (Empire of Evil) and Koniec (The End). After finishing the Slovak project, they also plan to cap it off by making a book of the pictures.

"People around the world who live on the bottom of society are very similar. I don't want to imply these people are homeless or miseries. They are poor, but rich in other ways," Hyža said.

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