Martin Kollár - Europe

Galéria Profil,
Prepoštská 4,

The exhibition will be opened on oktober 6, 2000 at 5 p.m.
in Photograph Gallery Profil, Prepoštská 4,814 99 Bratislava

The exhibition will last until november 1, 2000
Opening hours: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. except Mondays

Martin Kollár - Europe

Martin Kollár examines the European man. He travels over places of his occurrence and records his natural behaviour, environs and their mutual connections. He brings testimony of the life and relationships at concrete sites. "His" man is anonymous, come out of his shell of controlled manners, out of his working or official way of life. He is a current consumer who had set off after his yearning. He casts off conventions, puts on a comfortable dress and rushes forth for places which he thinks are "his" place. And precisely only the environment in which we find him is recognizable - determining the framework of the scene. And that is how a family spending a weekend near an atomic power plant, motor cyclists with crash helmets climbing up in the Alps, mummies with children riding in a ghostly tunnel, or wearied tourists in a rain- drenched town, find themselves.

By a special interplay of Kollar's abilities, scenes appear before him which subsequently, through definition with the help of the camera, will come out as a newly-captured reality. They reveal the Teatrum Mundi of each one of us. That by which these photographs surprise us again and again is their multiple planning which, once we have recognized the principal motif on all of the photographs, forces us to seek first details invisible at first sight and later, after the example of Bosch or Brueghel, sets us face to face with the question of meaning and symbol.

His photographs are not notes from chance travels, his prima causa is to bring forth testimony to contemporary Europe undergoing social, cultural and national changes. His glance, however, avoids conflicting topics - interesting from the journalist point of view - he expresses his point of view through the intermediary of an ordinary man in an ordinary milieu. Not many things about him change, nonetheless they force their way up to the surface in the details spoken of above. Multi-ethnic Paris, the antithetical panorama of the landscape, industrial tourism, the pervading Americanism - realities that affect most the way of thinking of the middle class - which in turn influences the mode of life and the landscape. Kollár states that current people are everywhere the same, have the same deficiencies and the same problems - the Trabant has to be washed just as the Porsche, leisure is to be made the most of - sunshine or rain, current thought comes with current ideas...

True, Martin Kollár formally processes the episode statically (photography), but as regards content, it is a fully cinematographic narration about situations on the spot. His professional film training comes through also in a photographic recording. Her exclusively uses photographs oriented to breadth in a full cut-out of the frame and does not admit of any other cut-out and alterations. Similarly as other Slovak photographers - Andrej Bán, Pavol Breier, Jozef Ondzík... - he belongs among striking talents exclusively adhering to documentary photography with a deep concern and personal involvement in man. He is a photographer documenting life without any ulterior motives. He does not
trade on man's expression, yet with a cruel precision presents him not as a person, but as a social layer - group and style. He exclusively photographs in colour and on current photographic materials. However, despite the stress on the content, the resulting pictures are also given a full-value visual composition. His style of composing reveals a thorough knowledge of the contemporary young photography plodding on the way of a dynamic and fully narrative image.

A closer look at what goes on in the photographs shows that Martin Kollár is no mere recorder of situations about him. I have the feeling that scenes intuitively pile up about him, are attracted by him through some invisible magnetic lines of force - so he might record them in their perfect, though ephemeral motion. The old man on the beach together with the tractor is a static pendant to the movements of vacationists, the doggy in his high jump disrupts the smooth walk of a family marching single file, the octopuses in the hands of a diver have their nonchalant passer-by. The figures in the picture are interconnected by looks, gestures and meaning in such an intensive form that they seem to live their own life which we, onlookers, may observe with a smile, "read" and understand.

The author has divided his photographic work into two cycles: people in Western and those in Eastern Europe. They are a recording of two different ways of life: that of the unifying West and the fragmented East which, by the way, would like to become the West. KollÁr became conscious of this European polarity and has divided his originally single cycle into two independent elements. And, through his own intermediary, he has offered us to come to know the former - one face of Europe. But let us not be lured solely by the visual dynamics of Kollar's scenes, let us rather succomb to the wealth of the contents and depth of his impacts. Let us set forth for Europe - for one of its forms, as a trial run for the time being and later perhaps....

Richard Friedmann