„Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unprocessed places.”

So writes Italo Calvino, in the “Invisible Cities”, a collection of tales describing journeys of Marco Polo, which provided important inspiration for my photo essay.

Traversing the vast Mongol empire, the Venetian explorer shares tales from imaginary, beguiling cities. He visits Hypatia, where crabs are “biting the eyes of suicides;” and Raissa, the city of sadness, that nevertheless contains parts of happiness unaware of their existence; he describes places where people live suspended over the abyss; and parallel cities built for those who are yet to be born.

All those cities are “unreal” one may say – built of ideas, rather than concrete, glass and steel. And so, to some extent, are  cities featured in this photo essay: New York, where I arrived as a young adult and which I now consider home; Tokyo, a city of contradictions, where I had a chance to live for four years, but which I was never able to possess; and Shanghai, the city that is constantly being born.


In the words of Calvino:

„With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. […] 
Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspective deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”

My work, which extends from documentary and cultural to fine art photography, is usually an attempt to shed some light on, or decipher, what cannot easily be comprehended or articulated with words.  I am attracted to what is secret and concealed.

In the “Invisible Cities” series I am photographing cities that are dramatically different from each other. But I am trying to focus on something that they – and maybe all cities – have in common: dreams and fears hidden amid alleys, streets and squares. I am looking at dazzling lights, soaring buildings, ancient temples and markets – centuries of human ingenuity and ambition. I am also searching for intimate moments: subtle shadows, anxieties, sorrows and longings. It’s that tension that I find enchanting: fragility of human existence juxtaposed with strength, ambition and patience. And a sense of wonder: 

„Cities also believe they are the work of the mind, of chance, but neither the one nor the other suffices to hold up their walls. You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.”