Heavy metal lifestyle: Bratislava 2006 / Statement + History
I remember I was trying to photograph an old car that had long ago been parked and left in a pool of oil, and I heard a voice behind me ask why I was photographing this old car. I replied, that they reminded me of what we once thought of as modern. The man told me that if I wanted to see old cars I should visit a man known as Jan, who apparently lived in a field filled full of old cars and survived by foraging for scrap metal. I was hooked, and over drinks persuaded the man to take me the next day to meet Jano.
It was summer; the sun was high and a scorching 35 degrees. We turned off the main road and followed a dirt track littered with non descript pieces of metal ,further along were refrigerators, blackened oil barrels, the twisted chassis of a car wreck and even an old bus.
I was introduced to Jan who paused from twisting wire into bundles long enough to shake my hand and then continued with his work. Jan was tall and muscular, lean with no excess fat and he had large powerful hands. I was surprised to learn he was 66 and had been living this way for more than 30 years. Jan moved in the heat like a man 30 years younger, pausing only to say a few brief but elegantly gestured sentences about life and the state of the country. He told me I was welcome to photograph whatever I liked, and then he set about breaking concrete off an iron girder with a sledge hammer.
I occasionally saw Jan in the city, where construction was booming, sifting through debris for metal to fill his improvised box trailer that he pulled with his bicycle the 5 miles to his field. He would sort the metal and stuff the dwindling collection of car skeletons with all manner of metal plates, wire and rebar. The smaller stuff would be tossed into one of the old oil drums, all for weighing and collecting after which he would receive a small sum to live off for his labors.