Between Document and Monument
Photography straddles two poles. As a document, it enters the realm of meaning; it is always a document of something. However, it can also be perceived as a monument standing in front of us; without an explanation and a definite meaning, it lets us look and ponder in uncertainty and perhaps in a certain amazement.
Václav Kopecký combines mimetic and abstract photography. His work can be seen as a record of the Venice Marathon as well as an image consisting of lines and surfaces, similarly to his original photograms.
Jan Lesák reflects on photography in the context of the internet which is often perceived as a universal database of images; as a system that has already documented everything. However, instead of applying a traditional archiving approach, the artist explores deeper structures and forms, creating monumental abstracted shapes while opening the very format and frame of the photograph and the photographable.
Jan Maštera alludes to the ability of photography to produce credibility, system and theories. In this respect, a concrete photography has an invaluable role in proving and documenting, while a series of photographs can capture monumental phenomena that are otherwise hard to capture, such as the rising of the sea level or an uneven terrain system. He conducts his research with care and irony, giving birth to a specific mythology.
According to Foucault, history as a science has abandoned its traditional form, which transformed monuments of the past into documents, adopting a modern approach, which turns documents into monuments. In the past, one had to give a voice to archeological findings and silent traces of the past; today, one has to classify a large number of sources, interpret them and select model cases.
According to Foucault, archeology has reappeared as a method of superimposing documents which are acquiring a historical, monumental dimension. I believe that is how the works by Václav Kopecký, Jan Lesák and Jan Maštera can be perceived. However formally different their work is, all of the artists try to systematically mark specific layers, look for regularities and documents within photography. The aesthetic form consists in building the surface; or, if you like, a boundary; at the very moment the individual documents are entering their layers. The photograph moves from document to monument and back.