Zagreb: Efke – boy disappeared – and nobody notices

Trg Efke 2

Often those who only come to a city at certain intervals perceive changes better than those who live there permanently. I had this experience again during my last visit to Zagreb. I have been coming to the city at irregular intervals since the 1980s and I particularly like the touch of nostalgia that spreads between the train station and the upper town. An essential part of this nostalgia was at the central square, the Trg Bana Jelacic, already at the time when it was still called Trg Republike, the „Efke-boy“, a meter-high advertising figure of a boy with three-quarter pants, held in black and white drawing style, who is taking a photo just in tightened posture.

You can see that this is not just taking a picture, but a real photograph. Here, real life is not „shot“, but rather thoughtfully and with a steady hand, captured through a lens on a negative roll, in order to be made visible on paper in a complex process, in which a projector and chemicals are used.

Carefully he held the camera in his hand. At the same time, he seemed confident and courageous, as he stood there on the roof of a four-storey house right on the edge of the abyss.

He was framed by a Franck advertisement two houses away and one for Kras, right behind his left shoulder. These stand for coffee and pastry products. Through this combination, a story emerges. It is summer (the three-quarter trousers tell) and the boy, let’s call him Efke as well, is allowed to take pictures of the assembled family in the garden. The process turns into a ceremony in which those who have joined are regrouped several times. Only then is Efke allowed to press the shutter button once and, for safety’s sake, once more. But please don’t do it three times, because photo material is expensive!

Only then is it time to go to the lovingly decorated table with a clean tablecloth and delicious cookies which are called Neapolitans“.

Efke is no longer there. And what is almost even sadder: None of my Zagreb acquaintances noticed it in the hectic pace of everyday life. Some even didn’t remember Efke at all. It is to be feared that Efke has already ended up in the scrap metal recycling.

A pity! He deserved something better.


Efke films were made by Fotokemia d.d. The english Wikepedia reveals that this company was wound up in 2012. The successor Fotokemia Nova obviously only distributes medical films. Is it to be hoped that Efke will return, in a white coat as a medical-technical assistant? He should be old enough to do so by now.

The picture above is from Wikimedia Commons by Lamasse. It has been edited to make the Efke-boy stand out better.

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