The intended commercial area of Zabok, a small city near Zagreb, in the morning light, Zabok, July 2007, Croatia.
A new INA gasstation on the highway from Zagreb to Maribor, July 2007, Croatia.
A Christian wayside shrine on a hill near Krapina the capital of Zagorje, August 2006, Croatia.
At the end of her shift Martina and a colleague control the earnings in a bar where they work as waitresses in Veliko Trgovisce, October 2004, Croatia.
A meadow early in the morning in the small village Gubasevo, July 2007, Croatia.
The farmer Alois plays with an accordion in the kitchen of his homestead, Krapina July 2007, Croatia.
Petra hugs her boyfriend on the couch in August 2006 in Zabok, Croatia. Her father died in the Croatian War. Since then she anti-Serbs - the same goes for her boyfriend.
Shopping carts on the parking lot of the new supermarket Konzum, July 2007, Zabok, Croatia.
Retiree Zdravko standing in his livingroom in Gubasevo, near Zagreb, July 2007, Croatia. Because of a work accident he retired almost 20 years ago. Since then he works at his farm to sustain the family.
A picture of Tito, a Mary statue and a 1000 Deutsche Mark bill in the cellar of the farmer Alois homestead, Krapina October 2006, Croatia.
The farmer Alois sitting in his bedroom of his homestead, Krapina July 2007, Croatia.
Wheat flour and flowers on a table in the living room of the farmer Alois homestead, Krapina July 2007, Croatia.
An abandoned store at a shopping mall in Oroslavje, July 2007, Croatia.
The owner of a shooting gallery pointing a gun at a girls head at the OFF-ROAD festival in Lobor, July 2007, Croatia. During the weekend there was a motocross race and a small fun fair.
The farmer Alois with his wife on their homestead, Krapina July 2007, Croatia.
The suburbs of Zagreb at night. In the foreground runs Sava river, July 2007, Croatia.

HINTERLAND

HINTERLAND is a long-term project to document the slow change of the Croatian region Hrvatsko Zagorje. We started in 2001 and since then we have continuously photographed a number of families, their environment, but also the landscape of Zagorje.

Hrvatsko Zagorje is the region north of the capital Zagreb and it means Croatian hinterland. A beautiful mountainous landscape with small villages is extended to the Slovenian border. The region is characterized by traditional rural structures and a deep rooted belief, that this area is the source of the Croatian culture. It is said that Zagorje is the only part of Croatia the Serbs did not want to conquer in the civil war during the 1990s.

The people of Zargorje are attached to their native soil. Besides their regular jobs (or their small pensions) most of them are still self-sustaining famers. They keep a couple of chicken, pigs or plant their own groceries.

But of course Zagorje is not the Happy Isles. The catholic church is almost unweakened. Traditional family values and a strong nationalism are common sense. For young people it is difficult to leave their parents home. They hardly find jobs with a salary that suits for economic independence. Xenophobia is often drastic, even though you won't find too many foreigners there. It is more a prophylactic attitude.

The region is in a quiet (but lasting) transition. The downfall of the iron curtain led to huge investments from many foreign investors. Croatian labor force is still cheap, compared to Western European standards. So many corporations have build facilities and provide new jobs.

All kind of consumer goods are now available – but for Western prices. To participate on the modern way of living, they are often drawn on a credit. These credits are in most cases bound to the Euro and not the national Croatian currency. That makes the credits a risky bet on the future economic situation.

The change in Zagorje is also different for the generations. While the parents who are now 45+ have quite the same prospects as before, the youth have virtually a broader variety of chances.

The tension between modernity and tradition is there, but maybe the people of Zagorje will find an answer to live with both. We will continue to follow that development in the future.

2001 – Now

shown at:
Unpublished – Unknown, FotoGrafia Festival Internazionale di Roma, Rome 2010