Visualizing intimate encounters: What do I seek in my portrait subject? What does the way of capturing the other reveal about myself? As Shelley Silver sets out to photograph moments of intimacy, in her video essay she reflects the camera gaze as a mediator between the desire for the other and the control of the image. In his series of double portraits, Pavel Hečko synchronizes his vision of the portrayed with their self-perception, reflecting the pose as a means of communicating with the viewer. During her photoshoot of Winfried, a young man who poses in drag, Gabriele Stötzer felt a connection with her model. Like herself he was considered “different” by the GDR authorities, a condition that also made him susceptible: as Stötzer later learned, he had been informing on her to the Stasi (secret police). Kristin Loschert’s photo sessions with strangers grew out of her desire to capture an image of a certain young man. The chosen mode of presentation – stacks of photographs – visualize the deficiencies of the portrayal. Reflecting the uneven relationship of artist and model, Gundula Schulze Eldowy discloses the conversations with her long-time portrait model Tamerlan in a documentary film, showing their encounters over the years. As we hear the much younger artist collating her own experience with that of her model, we witness Tamerlan’s incomparable misery. Questions of uneven access lead Alžběta Bačíková to experiment with audiovisual forms of translating her work to differently challenged audiences. Her audiovisual installation documents an encounter between a blind and a deaf person, rendered possible despite their conflicting conditions. By splitting the recording into a visual and an audible part the artist shows an alternative narrative for individual experience apart from the sound-image-synchronicity of conventional film. So the question is not only what we’re looking for (as Silver poses it), but as well: by which means, for who, or regardless for whom are we able and willing to get the message across?
Shelly Silver: What I’m Looking For
2009, 10 min
Alžběta Bačíková: Encounter
Terezie – Alena Terezie Vítek
Mac – Mac Henzl
Audio description – Zuzana Stivínová
Interpreter – Naďa Hynková Dingová
Camera: Martin Štěpánek
Sound: Jakub Jurásek, Ian Mikyska
Editing: Kristýna Bartošová
Piano and vocals: Ráchel Skleničková
Music and lyrics for Pretty Hands Pretty Face: Ian Mikyska
Dance scene choreography: Mish Rais
Written by: Alžběta Bačíková and Mac Henzl in collaboration with other video participants
Translation and revision of Czech Sign Language: Naďa Hynková Dingová
English translation: Ian Mikyska
Image correction: Tomáš Hájek
The work features excerpts from Gustav Machatý’s film From Saturday to Sunday (1931).
The scenes from Villa Rothmayer were shot by courtesy of the City of Prague Museum.