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Czech winner / 2012-2014

/photograph, diasec, 67x100 cm/

The photographic series depicts a sportswoman, representative of our homeland.

The sportswoman is fully dedicated to her sport activity. The amount of energy invested into physical performance gives nevertheless somewhat absurd impression; as if her effort was poised to fail right from the beginning due to both the accessories being a burden for the sport discipline and also the conditions of the sports venue, which are not ideal for a good performance.

The stylized sportswoman with the gas mask and life buoy features a representative of our homeland, which can be seen on the outfit and the buoy, both rendered in the Czech national colors.  The athlete gives impression of an absurd figure toiling for her victory, which is by its nature nearly impossible. However, she does not give up because each game has in itself hope for victory.

The series is based on my premise (and partly also on experience) that Czechs as a small nation with relatively short history of their territorial independence and henceforth low national esteem are somehow “handicapped” in the world competition. This handicap may be either linguistic, social, cultural, economic-political or related to the post-communist stereotypes of a Czech who steals, who is poor, uncivilized, uncultured etc..

The sportswoman thus embodies this national outsidership of ours, which is predictable, but which can really surprise sometimes. The life buoy emphasizes impression of absurdity, however its primary purpose is thoroughly positive, it is there to rescue and also to help people move. Its use in the series however obstructs and prevents from move. The ring is a symbol of national belonging, it is an element that should support its wearer, but which also can sometimes be a burden. The mask is here to finalize the typology of the figure. Its use is similarly absurd, it’s just in the way, even though most athletes need some head protection – swimmers, skiers, skaters wear goggles, ice-hockey players wear a helmet etc.. The symbolism related to the gas mask has furthermore connotations with the not-so-distant Czech history and tells us something about not only the air pollution in the environmental sense of the word…

The pictures have been taken in different places of Bohemia. For instance, a surface coal mine in the Sokolov area is in a stark contrast with the most probable venue for ski races somewhere in the Alps, the typical ring of concrete apartment blocks around the Czech towns serve as a venue for an elegant gymnastic composition, the swimmer jumps from the concrete panels in a car park, the shot-putter avails herself of a grandiose area once belonging to a military airport…