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Andrej Bán captures another side of Slovakia

PHOTOGRAPHER Andrej Bán loves Slovakia. But he does so in his own way.
His Iné Slovensko (The Other Slovakia), a recent book published by Slovart (with English text), shows Slovakia neither as a Central European tiger nor as yet-to-be discovered "Eden" for foreign tourists.

photo: Andrej Bán

PHOTOGRAPHER Andrej Bán loves Slovakia. But he does so in his own way.

His Iné Slovensko (The Other Slovakia), a recent book published by Slovart (with English text), shows Slovakia neither as a Central European tiger nor as yet-to-be discovered "Eden" for foreign tourists. Through more than 60 black-and-white photos he presents the country from its inner, more intimate side.

Bán explains that neither a commission nor a project were the inspiration for the book. "I took these photos when travelling around Slovakia over the past 16 years. I took them without knowing that one day they would be put into a book."

Andrej Bán has his camera ready when other photographers put it down.
photo: Jana Liptáková

The photographer does not look for "classical" or "official" sights and situations. Rather, he takes interest in what is happening behind the scenes, in the background.

When flicking through the book's pages, the pictures of boys flying kites, village women dressed in traditional wide skirts getting on a bus, and visitors to hunters' ceremonies in Svätý Anton eating goulash from plastic bowls, might seem banal at first sight. But this trivia contains the poetry, irony, and sometimes absurdity of the current times.

Through his photos, Bán does not criticize anybody. He does not make fun of anybody, and neither does he glamorize. He just records what is happening in front of his eyes. He captures the effects commercialization is having on Slovak traditions, what it takes away and what remains.

photo: Andrej Bán

A viewer easily becomes absorbed by his unusual visuals. And with things in this country constantly moving and changing, one hopes that he stays to record it.


Andrej Bán was born on April 28, 1964, in Bratislava, where he graduated in journalism and economics. He regularly publishes articles and photos in the Slovak and foreign media. He works on long-term photographic projects, in particular about Slovakia, the Balkans, and crisis regions around the world. He has chaired the People in Peril humanitarian organization since its launch in 1999.

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