Martin Rosswog: Maria Kiszler (Danube Swabian), Cikó, Hungary, April 2003
In Martin Rosswog’s photograph, two white stoves—the older one wood-burning and the modern one fueled by gas—face off like the protagonist and antagonist in a theater piece. Their stage is a kitchen and the other actors include a green cabinet, a table with a checkered tablecloth, a red pot, and two white pails. If we listen closely to what all of these ordinary utensils have to tell us, we can learn much about the everyday life of Maria Kiszler, a Danube Swabian in whose kitchen in Cikó, Hungary, the photograph was taken in 2003. It seems that she prefers to cook and heat the room with the old stove, as suggested by the open oven door and the box of wood standing on the floor in front of it, along with the red pot on top. The two white pails set on a low two-door cabinet make us wonder whether the room has running water. The taller cabinet with its many drawers and doors is sure to be filled with all kinds of dishware, and maybe also spices and staples; with things that have accumulated in the course of a life, whose presence recalls different life stages with their own requirements and needs. The room is sparsely decorated; the light blue walls, the checkered oilcloth tablecloth, and the patterned floor serve as the main accents. The floral pattern of the tiled backsplash forms a nice contrast to the pastel shades that dominate the room.
The picture is part of a comprehensive documentation of the house of Maria Kiszler that shows, along with various views of the kitchen, the living room, a portrait of the inhabitant, and exterior shots of the house and property.
The village of Cikó, located in southern Hungary, is historically a Danube Swabian settlement. After the Second World War, however, the native population was expelled; Maria Kiszler is one of the few who remain there. Today, the local population includes many members of the ethnic group known as the Székelys, who once had their home in Romania, as well as so-called Oberlander Jews from Slovakia. Though the composition of the residents has changed, the design of the houses and the way they are built still harks back to the area’s earlier history.
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln