Our photo of the week, taken by Slovenian photographer Jaka Bulc, imagines a town that could exist in any place, in any era. For his ongoing series Steelerton, Bulc, originally from Ljubljana, was inspired by a place he’d often visited as a child.
“Jesenice is nestled in a valley beneath some lovely hills and mountains and it’s near the terminus of a long road tunnel that connects Austria and Slovenia. It has a rich industrial past, with giant ironworks facilities dotting the town,” Bulc told The Calvert Journal.
This particular image of a bowling alley was taken on walk through Jesenice, where the photographer had been searching for places to photograph that had a universal and timeless feel. To complete the series, Bulc is planning to include portraits of Steelerton’s would-be residents.
Though Bulc’s town is a work of fiction, it reflects the reality of the monotowns that sprung up across eastern Europe after the Second World War but have become increasingly stagnant.
However, there’s one detail in the photo that stops it from being totally timeless. Bulc came across the bowling alley during a local tournament: “I waited until they stopped playing and took this photograph,” Bulc describes. Looking closely at the image, you may notice the pins in the left-hand lane have not been reset. Standing for post-industrial reality, this minutia only goes to highlight the sense of sudden abandonment in towns such as this, while avoiding “ruinporn cliches”.