In Cambodia most of the living Vietnamese are stateless residents, have no citizenship papers such as identity cards or birth certificates, as a result, they face difficulties in getting access to education, employment, healthcare, and housing. Stateless Vietnamese built floating settlements of dwelling zones on waters which don ́t require citizenship papers.
Life at the floating village named Kompong Khleang village seems like everywhere else - supermarkets, a school, even a space to play soccer, repair shops, barber, a church, and temple. This small floating village in Cambodia seems to have a normal life like usual villages do. Many generations sharing a small houseboat, floating on the river. Vietnamese residents appoint their own village heads and convey community concerns to the Vietnamese community associations. In this small village, disability is very widespread. Deficient medical care is a big issue, pregnant women have no chance of acute pregnancy complications, as a result, high disability rate appears in many families of the village.
A different world which amazed me with the beauty in such a small space. The wooden floor makes creaky sounds, the floors are silky like someone would oil them every day. The home is gently rocking on the water. Every piece has its own place and everything is very organized. Nearly every home has some animals, chicken, rabbits, cats or dogs. There are even bicycles. Hammocks replacing bedrooms. Mementos hanging everywhere. My fascination with the people who live on water and the way of creating a beautiful, almost iconic home from such a small space.
Homes of India
From my first travel experience, India inspired me in my photography. This time I returned with a deeper perspective on the real life of people in India, a portrayal of Indian culture that is more intimate. A home is the soul of its owner and the most intimate place of a person, it tells a story about the residents living in it. Entering a home brings me closer to the way of life of these people and helps me to understand. Every home and its occupants have their own story of life to tell, in India the colors help to tell the rest.
I portraiture families, men and women, young and old people, all living in a slum areas in New Delhi of India. The residents live a life at the edge of existence. In India, financially unstable families sharing usually a small house with up to six to seven members, it is a common scene of the slums. Most of these households have only one room, which is being shared with the whole family. One third of the slums are devoid of an indoor toilet. The ones that do have a toilet are not connected with proper sewerage systems. Many generations are sharing life and dependant on each other.
My personal interests in the universal and deeply human instincts and however precarious their living conditions, they turn their habitations into a home. I want my work to act as a reminder of the importance of family and shared values, which is a certain kind of wealth that even those who have less can cherish and enjoy.
Symbiosis of working and living
China’s cities are growing very fast. New high rises are replacing old small quarters and create space for the growing population. For small old traditional quarters is less space disposable. In Beijing´s old quarter named the Hutong area, people still live a life like many years ago.
Where neighbors know each other and people come together in the narrow alleys, traditions and generations are passing the way of life. Surviving and living in this old quarters is not easy many people agreed to be relocated to high buildings, to have a proper sanitation system, which most of the houses in the Hutong area don´t have. Those who are left, have created a beautiful symbiosis of working and living in one of the small spaces of their disposal.
My work is focusing on houses where families living and working in small old areas which are left in the big cities of China, such as Beijing or Shanghai. Soon most of them will be gone, most of them will live like other Chinese in high rise buildings, isolated from their traditional environment.
This is my personal fascination with the people of China, the way they arrange a Live in such a small space, try to survive without losing important traditions.
City of the Dead
The City of the Dead is an ancient cemetery in Cairo, Egypt that became a residential neighborhood. Cairo's alternative for those who are the poorest, live in this area between graveyards. A life between tombs and mausoleum structures, where people live and work amongst the dead. The settlement is far from legal, but the Egyptian government has long since given up on evicting residents. The first cemetery caretakers have passed the jobs on to their children and so many generations living and raising families at the same place without moving. The neighborhood is poorly policed, crime is on the rise, some of the criminals found here a place, next to families who raise children. The sight of many widowed women at the graveyards is one important fact, nearly every family, face a similar fate. Many women are forced to live in extreme poverty after the death of the man. Widows and their children face discrimination and outright injustice. Women who depended heavily on financial security and protection provided by the men in their families, face after the dead a life, they not prepared to especially financially. And not only financial issues they have to face, more challenging is the cultural discrimination and disrespect that widows face in Egypt.
I traveled to Cairo to visit families living in the necropolis, a daily life between the graves, where children play and clotheslines lead from one tombstone to another.
Athar Al-Nabi is the name of a quarter in the south of Cairo, it is a low-income neighborhood, like a slum where people live in not the best conditions, garbage is a part of the daily sight. In spite of everything, people fight for this place, against losing a self-built home and against a relocation from the Government. It is not the first time the Government of Cairo tries to offer the people of Athar Al Nabi to move to newly built places, which are located in outlying districts of Cairo. Some of them agreed but most of them regret and fight for their self-made homes. All of those buildings and houses are once illegally built, people occupied this territory a long time ago and accepted to live at a place where the government doesn´t take care off or feel responsible for. In exchange, none of the residents pay rent or any other usual bills, but the most important fact is, most of them are not even able to pay rents or bills. Left by the government high and dry as a result of corruption and carelessness, these people will be removed one day no matter how hard they protected and fought for their belongings, to make space for another high building or a hotel regardless of its residents, as soon as the government sells the land.
Who are these Families and People who fight for a life on the edge of poverty, how does a life look like in a neighborhood which is left careless by those who are responsible? Own rules and regime had established after many years of this place. How is it, living in the soon disappearing neighborhood of „The Footprint of the Prophet“ or be only worth a footprint of the government?
My work is focusing once again on the people who have less in life and are forgotten by those in power. People who are fighting a fight of a reality in poverty which they already lost, because this kind of people never has a chance against the powerful.
Moments in Vietnam
Fishers of Vietnam
In early April 2016, the dead and dying fish phenomena first appeared, floating in the surf and washing up on the beach. Initially, it seemed like a windfall, and many people here ate and sold them. The fish kept coming, tons of them, day after day for more than a month. Some of the fish were dead some were dying, local fishers who sell and dries fish for a living, ate the fish and sold it at markets. After a short time, a big appearance of illness and people suffered poisoning in hospitals. Belatedly, the government announced that aquatic life had been poisoned along the coastline of four provinces by toxic waste from a nearby steel Factory named Formosa Ha Tinh Steel, a steel plant built by Taiwanese corporation Formosa Plastics. The company discharged toxic industrial waste illegally into the ocean through drainage pipes. The authorities warned people not to eat fish and ordered a halt to fishing. The fish kill was the most environmental disaster in Vietnam´s history. The disaster disrupted the livelihood of fishermen in four provinces in the central coast of Vietnam. The fishing nets stayed empty and the local people who depend on the sea were ruined.
One year later fishers life seem to get back to normal, but heavy metals, for example, lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, will stay in the environment for a very long time, and it’s very toxic because it can go up the food chain and cause a lot of damage, which appears not in noticeable symptoms, but in serious genetical damages. Markets are filled again and fishers continue fishing they use to. Customers cannot differentiate between affected fish and now, consumer confidence in the domestic seafood industry is broken and made it difficult for many fishermen on the affected coasts to make a living.
The invisible toxic damage will last longer than from the government predicted, village people will continue fishing because this is their livelihood, many families depend on the sea and have to accept the environmental damage.