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A. Balco - Košice
P. Homola - z cyklu Building Walker
V. Szemzö - Petržalka
4. 12. 2009 - 31. 12. 2009
Andrej Balco
Peter Homola
Viktor Szemö

Contemporary slovak photography.

Problem of center and outskirts is not a modern one, although it may seem that with the enormous development of newly emerging satelite areas it is more evident. Urbanistic division of centers and periferies has led to creation of blocks during the era of social urbanism. These blocks arose near city aglomerations, elsewhere right inside the existing city plan and it creates a sort of wall or panorama to-date.

The blocks are specific worlds, that almost every city has and that are the legacy of the times, that will create our living space for a long time. The blocks have become a home for a large mass of people (just in Slovakia a whole 1/3 of population lives in the blocks) and even though the change of regime and life-style of many of its inhibitants,  the blocks still remain the gray blocks of concrete, that are currently decorated with advertising billboards at the best. The interesting fenomena are the attempts of its denizens to revitalise the panel houses with new colorful heat-isolating facades, though not always leading to make the life space more positive and thusly creating legions of colorful boxes. The blocks denizens are mostly unsatisfied with their way of living, but form most of them the change is unreal and they are left to settle with that. The blocks and the life there as a fenomenon in post-socialistic countries seem to be interesting even for the contemporary documentarists - Andrej Balco and Viktor Szemzö independently started to get interested in this fenomenon, each with its own way.

As Viktor Szemzö focused on Bratislava fenomenon - the mega blocks Petržalka, Andrej Balco travels to capture life on the blocks in Pezink, Bratislava, Michalovice, Košice and Velké Kapušovice. In the collection of Viktor Szemzö, called “Petržalka (2004 - 2005)”, the blocks are depicted as a life-less place where the people meet only on their way in or out of the work, sometimes during walking the dog. It is a place, that has no spontaneous street life and the denizens try to spend there as little time they have to. Szemzö has decided to change this state in his cycle with the aid of photography and populate Petržalka. He used method of time-collecting the moments, taking multiple pictures from one certain spot and using them together in post-production, thus placing all the people from different pictures on one photography. The resulting pictures from Petržalka looks as if they were full of people, children, dogs and the viewer is under impression that Petržalka really is alive and that the urbansistic comrades visualised these pictures when they were planning these blocks.

In his cycle “The blocks (2003 - 2004)”, Andrej Balco captures the life in the blocks as he had found them - we can see cut-through the blocks life as it is, although we may see a certain level of absurdity in some of the pictures. We can credit this to the autor’s sense to capture the life in its grotesque form. Andrej Balco does not mock or parody the situation, more likely he tells us that even this is the reality of life in the blocks; a reality that is real for many people not only in Slovakia.

With “Building Walker (2006)” a way different approach is set by Petr Homola, who focuses on what creates our environment: the buildings, or more specificaly their frontal facades, on which he climbs with objective like a spider and creates pictures that change facades into running flats with help of an extreme angle. The flats runs toward the horizon and create a sort of landscape that we may run through. Using perception change, even the facades of unnatractive panel houses become terrain as the eye wanders and identifies. A man’s footprint is minimal, as only a flower or hanging clothes on the balcony show up place to place. In most cases the landscape is created by concrete, panels, metal and glass. When we say Victor Szemzö tries to fill the place with people, Petr Homola empties the architecture, making it dehumanised. He allows us a different point of view on the well-known reality by a simple means of raising his objective, making us read the environment differently as we often don’t perceive it at all.

Curator: Anna Maximo