‘Drugi polčas’ – Sodobna slovaška fotografija

Iva Sykorova, from the series 'Death', 2009

From October 22 until November 20, 2010

Umetnostna galerija Maribor

On Second Half Time exhibition, after five-year existence of the Studio of Photography, you can see nine artists – graduates and students of the studio, in a concept exhibition, which is leaning on their individual works as well as mutual relations. Not all students are represented here, because it was aimed to make an exhibition, which, apart from individual testimonies, would say something more articulate: about common, if only subconscious, feelings of end, loneliness, sadness and fall. General aspiration was to have students, well in fact graduates of the Studio of Photography, who’d be able of individual artist’s statement, independent reflection as well as cooperation within a group or generation.

During preparation of the first exhibition of the Studio of Photography entitled First Half Time, I saw a similarity between a tutor and a coach in the way they work with their players – students, where everyone is experienced to other level, has different amount of talent or endurance. Coach’s task, as it is also tutor’s task, is to recognize the individual abilities of players and work on their gradual development and improvement.

Juraj Fifik captures completely accidental situations which overlap with intentionally staged scenes devised in advance. He focuses on figures in various everyday activities and acts, but also in absurd and unusual poses, gestures or postures, and the elaborated character of individual compositions is obvious. He wants the atmosphere, which he achieves through various contrasts and well thought out compositions, to constantly provoke the creation of new stories. But he goes even further in his ambitions; he wants these unique stories to become part of the spectator’s everyday perception of reality and thus very personal stories.

Ján Kekeli originally began with documentary photography before switching from recording reality to art photography. He selects situations, compositions and emotions which enable him to create visually impressive images embodying his personal attitude to life. He does not avoid even partial staging, but it is always unforced. Artificial impressions are forbidden. Authenticity is the priority. Every cycle of his is a reflection of what he must confront every day.

Šymon Kliman photographs Roma in the environment and spaces which they consider as most important and most valuable in their homes while dressed in everything that they consider their finest and which is reserved only for unique occasions. Their gestures and poses are just as festive and go beyond the framework of everyday subordination. However it is impossible to not notice that in the background of this “church” stylization, which contains certain comic hints, the tragic nature rises to the surface deprived of artificiality and targeted stylizing, the tragic nature that speaks about the situation of Roma even more urgently than any shocking documentary shot.

Dalibor Krupka does not look for shots but creates them in a slightly surrealistic way. He inserts elements that are surprising, disturbing, frequently mutually unrelated in photographed environments (either staged or real).  For him, photography is not an instrument for recording reality, but rather an escape to fantasy or even absurdity.

The minimalist and conceptual photographic work of Maija Laurinen, especially in some series, corresponds in many aspects to the classical image of northern art and its “mood setting”. When looking at it, her work defines itself the most from the visual language relative to the rest of the artists represented in this publication.  The research of the formal possibilities of the photographic recording of reality constitutes the scope of her work, especially the possibilities of manipulating the space in front of the lens of the camera and the visual shaping of the picture.

Because Ján Palkovič subordinates all formal means to the figure in his photos, be they the composition, colour or light, he creates the impression that the human figure is the only object of his interest. However it is not completely true because his fascination with figures is closely connected with an enchantment with capturing motion.

Lucia Stráňaiová most frequently focuses on human relations. She tries to peek inside the human interior and intermediate desire, estrangement, thrill and resignation. She subsequently veils abstract feelings in deliberate concepts and ingenious installations. Because according to her, photography must communicate as a whole and through all its layers.

Recently, Iva Sýkorová’s work has been inspired by gloomy environments which are in a certain way connected to the end of human life. Due to their character, these spaces frequently lead to shocking, drastic or at least naturalistic pictures. However in the case of this artist it is the opposite. Sýkorová poetically looks for the essence of the uniqueness and specific character of these objects and spaces and at the same time she examines the possibilities of stepping beyond the meaning which we use to contribute to them.

Ján Šipöcz frequently chooses situations with a psychological background as the motif for his shots – he perceives this dimension through the optics of his own experience: trauma, drunkenness, matters and feelings that he experiences directly; similarly, he tries to capture them on film. He assumes the role of a sensitive observer of the life of this organism and records the moments that are inspiring and significant for him which in his understanding illustrate and intermediate this “own life” of the urban environment.  He looks for banal life situations and moments within the framework of which he enjoys finding the uncommon on the common and then records it spontaneously.

Filip Vančo

In collaboration with Photoport gallery, Bratislava.