According the bio associated with the exhibition, Martin Kollar was born in Žilina in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) in 1971. He studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and has worked as a freelance photographer and cinematographer since he has graduated.
Provisional Arrangement (2016) is his fifth book after Nothing Special (Actes Sud, 2008), Cahier (Diaphane, 2011), Field Trip (MACK, 2013) and Martin Killar: Catalogue (Slovak National Gallery, 2015).
The exhibition explores the notion of temporary things or situations. It arose through Kollar growing up in Czechoslovakia during the communist era when he became fascinated by the collusion between the unchanging aspects of society and the fleeting ones that came to its aid to compensate for its ups and downs. It is a photographic journey that captures the disintegration of the permanent towards the temporary and the provisional.
The selection shown at the Musée de l’Elysée is a subset of what is presented in the book, but to my mind, the choice is excellent. The prints are a mixture of sizes, but some key ones such as the photo of the landslip (below, left) are enormous – approximately 2m on the long edge. Technically, they are sharp and well exposed, but it’s the stories that they tell (or at least the stories we make up) which are most fascinating and often bring a smile.
This is an exhibition about the bizarreness and humour of the temporary. There are a few head-scratching moments when I wondered just what happened – how did this situation arise?
The photo on the left is probably my favourite, of a number that caught my eye. I can well imagine what prompted someone to build a stack of pallets to prop up one part of the ceiling, but of the course the part right next to it is collapsing and gushing water, so what’s the point?
While each frame has its own narrative (usually one of mystery), the series as a whole also has a narrative – that of neglect and making do. In the exhibition notes, there is a wonderful summary: “it is a bric-a-brac poetry that, in the end, traces the outline of a tribute to man and to his ability to deal with change and to adapt to situations with a glorified resilience”.
Provisional Arrangement is showing at the Musée de l’Eysée in Lausanne, Switzerland until 31st December 2016.
Kollar, M. (2016) Provisional Arrangement. MACK/Musée de l’Elysée