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PORTFOLIO

29.06.2016

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Austrian-born Fabian Dankl set off on his bicycle trip on June 9. So far so good and not particularly surprising – especially for someone who jobs as a bicycle courier. Dankl’s trip, however, is a fair bit more than a short excursion. The young photographer aims to spend a year cycling from his home town of Graz all the way to Singapore. The focus of the journey is to explore bike culture in the countries he passes through. A first report comes from the Slovak town of Považská Bystrica.

‘“The most significant object in Povazka Bystrica is the parked car,” Jaro, who has invited me to stay with his family for the next three nights, explains. “If you can assure that this won't change, you will be guaranteed to stay Mayor of the town till you die.” He laughs with a certain bitterness and you get a sense of how much energy he has put into breaking down entrenched structures. The committed cyclist moved from Prague to Považská Bystrica with his family five years ago. He spent some time trying to convince the town authorities to make changes to the local infrastructure. In vain.

‘We are now in the centre, please make yourself comfortable,’ he suddenly says, turning around in circles as though he doesn’t know which way he should look. We’re standing in the middle of a nondescript place surrounded by car parks and concrete structures. Following World War II, the historic centre was completely torn down and replaced by socialist buildings. Only three historic buildings remain: the church, a chapel on the hill encircled by apartment blocks and the local library.  

Up until the nineties, the town was an important manufacturing centre for weapons and ball-bearings. This gave Považská Bystrica a certain standing and level of wealth. After the fall of socialism, the factories were closed and the number of unemployed shot through the roof, pushing young people to move away. The city missed out completely on any renovations.

In 2004 an elevated through-road was built, meaning that an enormous bridge now spans Považská Bystrica and the old, four-lane road cuts a purposeless swath – a rather dubious landmark – right through the centre of town.”

Fabian Dankl’s travel reports can be found on his website: www.fabiandankl.com.

Fabian Dankl

Born in Austria in 1986, Fabian Dankl began by studying sociology, and then trained as a photographer. In 2011, he established himself as a photographer in Graz. Since 2013 he is an assistant to Magnum photographer Chien-Chi Chang, also based in Graz. Dankl works as a free-lance photographer, theatre technician and bike courier.

www.fabiandankl.com

Fabian Dankl’s images at the LFI Gallery caught the attention of the LFI editors. You can find the photographer’s profile here.
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