Since I visited the University of Algiers, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, in 2007, I have always wanted to photograph this building complex. At that time, I was teaching at the art academy in the Algerian capital. It wasn't until 2013 that I got my chance. I was joined by an Algerian student who took me around the campus for three weeks. I could take my photos in peace. Once he said, "It's time, I must pray now." So I moved away from him and saw this picture: the praying student surrounded by this great architecture. I just had to capture it.
The building in the picture is part of the self-managed student village of the university. There is a cafeteria and a cinema here and all the rooms are available to students for cultural events. Niemeyer's design originally stood for the socialist utopia of a more just society, which has not been realised in Algeria. Today the complex symbolises the country's educational plight. The buildings are in poor condition and the government is not interested in the 25,000 students and their education here.
Written up by Fabian Ebeling