New East Digital Archive

This Czech-born photographer documents his bizarre ride through an uncertain Europe

27 April 2017

Martin Kollar was born Žilina in a part of communist-era Czechoslovakia that is now in the Slovak Republic. His series, Provisional Arrangement, was taken over two months of travelling across Europe. Though it does not directly deal with imagery from the communist period or attempt to replicate it in any way, the idea was inspired by the instability and impermanence that defined Kollar’s upbringing, and the void left by socialism’s broken promises.

The resulting photos show a world out of step — but not in the way you might expect.

Sure, it features images of devastation: a collapsed bridge that is yet to be mended, or a roof that caved in seconds ago. However, Kollar’s skill lies in finding humour in it all. Mundane moments that seem to go on forever are juxtaposed with photographs of the most unpredictable situations.

Provisional Arrangement recalls an earlier series by the artist, entitled Nothing Special, which was taken around eastern Europe in 2000. This series was very much a product of its time, with Kollar showing the absurdity of life a decade after the fall of communism.

By contrast, Provisional Arrangement is a series that is rooted in the failures of the Soviet system, yet holds up a mirror to the present. The photo book was published in September 2016 and since then, many of us in post-Brexit Europe have found our world embroiled in provisional situations and solutions. Asking whether this is one of Kollar’s predictions is to misunderstand the very nature of the project.

Text: Liza Premiyak
Image: From Provisional Arrangement by Martin Kollar