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7.I met KAROLI, the Builder. Extract from'I am your Mirror' photography project

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Karoli is my seventh stranger. He replied to my online advertisement.

Originally hailing from a small town in Hungary, he has called London his home for the past 20 years.

Karoli works as a builder and decorator, serving a multitude of clients, and he finds immense satisfaction in his work.

He owns his own company, and he is married to a wonderful woman from Asia. She is petite, lovely and quite young.

When I first met Karoli, she was pregnant, and they were eagerly anticipating the arrival of their daughter. He was deadly happy about becoming a father.

Karoly is a 45 years old man, who appears trustworthy, and he is very open. He talk about everything without hesitation. Even though he didn't know me, he opened up and shared a few secrets about his past love stories.

He described how things went wrong and how much he had suffered due to relationships with the wrong women.

"They nearly ruined my life" he said, "until I met my wife."

He made me laugh, because he was telling me his stories, in a funny way.

He is a naturist, he likes walking naked in his house and in the middle of the nature. He, also, showed me some of his pictures, when he was a young boy, naked in the forest, showing proudly some erection.

'My ex-girlfriend took them', he said, 'I was young and handsome'.

Karoly_©2014_ I am your mirror_photography project, © Loredana Denicola, 2014/2015

For many years, he has been developing a personal project and he is actively looking for funding. His dream is to construct a magnificent, huge place in Hungary, immersed in the nature, surrounded by trees. This haven would be open to all artists who wish to visit, stay temporarily, and collectively create art while embracing nudity in harmony with nature. He seeks a financial backer who believes in his vision and can support his project.

He plans to oversee the construction himself, creating a 'Bed and Breakfast' entirely crafted from wood. With his proficiency in woodworking, he intends to bring his vision to life. He has no qualms about posing nude for me, as he views nudity as entirely natural, without the fear that many others have.

For him, nakedness is an expression of self, a form of dress in itself.

He believes that our clothes are our second skin, and that nakedness fosters a sense of democracy while adornments define our individuality.

He generously proposed that I could use one of the houses or flats he was working on as a location for my project. He was working at two different sites as a builder when we crossed paths. This arrangement would allow me to capture photographs of him on-site where he spent his entire day. In return, he requested that I take additional pictures of him, of a more naked or erotic nature, for his personal use, particularly to promote his nature-oriented project.

I agreed.

One evening, I stumbled upon his email online. He suggested we meet in North London at 6 pm for a brief chat the following day. He offered to pick me up outside Costa Coffee with his van, conveniently located just a few meters from North Finchley station. I accepted his invitation.

The following day, I took the tube to reach him, arriving 15 minutes before our agreed-upon time. I sat outside Costa Coffee, sipping a hot drink while engaging in a conversation with a stranger who had joined my table.

Then, I received a text message notifying me that Karoli would arrive in 10 minutes. He instructed me to wait at the same street corner after the first traffic light, near an off-licence, ready to hop into his van.

With my hot drink in hand, I bid farewell to the stranger and ventured out into the cold. I waited for Karoli after the traffic light, where a white van approached, and someone inside waved at me from the window. Assuming it was him, I waved back. However, my phone rang—it was Karoli. He directed me to walk a bit further down the street and turn right, which I promptly did. He pulled over, rolled down the window, and introduced himself with a handshake.

‘It's a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for coming!’ He warmly greeted me.

'The pleasure is mine', I answered

'Would you like to have a coffee?', he asked.

'I already have one with me, in my hands', I replied grinning.

'So, would you like to join me in the van to discuss your project? Or would you prefer to go somewhere else? I've just finished work, and it was a tough day.'

'That's perfectly fine, I've got my coffee, so I'll join you in the van' I answered.

'Hop in then! Let's find another spot... I can't park here. What's the name of your project again? I seem to have forgotten,' he admitted.

'It's called "I am your mirror"' I reminded him.

'Of course, how could I forget that name?' he chuckled.

So, I hopped into the van. '…

I'm driving us to another location. I hope you're not afraid; I'm a good man', he reassured me.

'Not at all ' I replied. 'I know you're a good man.'

'Are you nervous?' he inquired.

'Not at all' I affirmed. 'Are you?'

'No, I'm not nervous. I'm just eager to learn more about your project' he replied.

Listening to his accent, it was clear he hailed from Eastern Europe. He steered the van away from our initial location, closer to a football field, where he believed we would be safer, as teenagers were playing nearby.

'So, what is your project all about?' he asked.

.... to be continued ....

by Loredana Denicola

"Behind the Lens: A Photographic Journey with Strangers"

Short stories from the photography project: "I am your mirror" by Loredana Denicola © 2017/2018, All rights reserved.

I'd love to create a book! If interested email me to loredana denicola


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