Letanovce 2007 / Statement + History
We boarded the midnight train from Bratislava to Kosice, headed east to Letanovce. My friend Miro had been documenting the Roma settlement there for 5 years and invited me to visit for a weekend. We shared our compartment with tired hard drinking men returning home from working away on German and Czech construction sites. We arrived at Letanovce at around 5am, the station a single track with a simple concrete platform sat at the edge of a place known as Slovak Paradise. A beautiful valley surrounded by pine forests that was home to around 200 Roma, who lived there without running water, electricity or sanitation.
We were guests of Martin and Zdenka, who gave us their one room makeshift home while they stayed with their two small girls at a friend’s place. Walking through the settlement, being introduced to people by Martin, I was met with curiosity and reserve from the adults but as a source of wide eyed amusement for the kids. They followed, weaving around me, laughing and asking me to take their photo and for the limited time I spent there they were my constant companions. They were filled with an energy and innocence that reminded me of my youth, playing in the fields around the coal mine of my hometown.