andrei iliescu

Photographer
Barbershop
Biography: 1956 was the year when Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s excesses and the first H-bomb was tested but it was also the year Andrei Iliescu was born in a family with a long artistic tradition. The parents were hoping their son would follow into... read on
Public Story
Barbershop
Credits: andrei iliescu
Updated: 10/28/10
I feel like a little boy in a toy store when I’m sitting in front of a barber shop. I’ve been in many barbershops on many streets around the world, Western and Eastern, rich and poor, peaceful or conflict-torn countries, and each time I had the same strange feeling of stepping into another dimension. The barbershop is a masculine place. The barbershop is a unique place for men to socialize. Here is a true refuge away from the burdens of domestic life, a place where people always find a welcome and friendly audience. People go to have their hair cut or get shaved in what they feel are the most important moments of their lives: before Christmas, Easter, Ramadan or Hanukah, before getting married, before graduation or even before burial. A barber does not need too many special effects to set up his tiny universe. In Varanasi, on the bank of the holy Ganges River, a chair and a fabric canopy was everything a barber needed to create his magic place. Just a stone throw farther down, the ash of the dead darkens the muddy waters. In Portugal, the barbershop is where soccer fans gather. Among family pictures, prizes, diplomas, icons and all kinds of collections, the barber is a poet and a psychologist as well. In Turkey or Palestine it's a place where one can have a cup of tea and a relaxed chat with a perfect stranger. At the foot of the sand hills in Merzouga or within the walls of Jerusalem, in Havana or Yangoon, Naples or Kathmandu, the bell that rings when you enter the barber shop has a universal effect: you leave your worries and burdens at the doorstep, you make peace with yourself and, suddenly the wide-smiling man in the white gown becomes the best friend you ever had. And then the ritual begins.
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