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Project 20

Twenty years later, the photographer EvŇĺen Sobek returned to the scene of a previous assignment. In the mid-1990s he clearly ranks amongst the documentary photographers who with great invention captured social, cultural, and material changes in the Hluńć√≠n region on the threshold of the ‚Äėnew era‚Äô. Already at that time, his black-and-white photographs were not based only on phenomenal reality, but always contained also a certain degree of uncertainty or unease, whereby he shifted captured events into a space where the viewer could freely move on the basis of his or her own map of possible interpretations. He generalized certain situations, making them into symbols.

In his current project, from town of Doln√≠ BeneŇ°ov, Sobek relates constants and shifts in the quality of the life of a society and individuals. Traditional rituals and celebrations of secular society and the Church have deep roots in the Hluńć√≠n region, and that‚Äôs why today‚Äôs young generation has spontaneously adopted them from their parents. But new elements of the globalized and increasingly hedonistic way of life have been unstoppably penetrating ordinary days and holidays, eroding the traditional culture that had formed over generations. This change often appears in Sobek‚Äôs photographs with a certain degree of ‚Äėstrangeness‚Äô, which we may perhaps simply call surreal, but the true essence of the strangeness stems chiefly from the photographer‚Äôs way of seeing and depicting. The point of Sobek‚Äôs current project from Doln√≠ BeneŇ°ov is not a rigorous impersonal record of social life. Rather, it is a report about what has visually affected him.

In the course of his twenty years as an artist Sobek has now come to the point where he has linked the systematic cultivation of his way of seeing and contemplating visual depiction with the intellectual background of his own mature personality, creative potential, poetic vision, and special interpretation of the world around him, creating an integrated whole. The set of photographs of Doln√≠ BeneŇ°ov also offer a view of an acclimated alien who is well oriented in his chosen location. This strips him of the superficial accretions of the tourist‚Äôs vision. With his camera, Sobek immerses himself in the local landscape, the urban space, and situations that are currently happening, and searches in them for his own interpretation and experience. Although the inhabitants of Doln√≠ BeneŇ°ov will clearly recognize specific depicted events that is not the photographer‚Äôs intention. Paradoxically, it is ‚Äėforeign‚Äô viewers who will be at an advantage when looking at Sobek‚Äôs photographs, because they will not search for or recognize specific figures and events; instead, their attention can focus on listening and conversing with all the elements of the picture. Sobek has gradually been composing a mosaic of life in Doln√≠ BeneŇ°ov, which consists of small pieces of personal experience, without seeking to complete it.

His photographs are saturated with cultivated artistry and imagination, yet they contain much generalizing information about human beings in today’s fragmented world. The set he has made of them is the photographer’s subjective, personal narrative of the experience of an intimately known yet unknown space and its inhabitants. His photographs are a poetic report on the outer world, but they are also about his own soul. Nothing more, nothing less.