Daily Portrait: Investigation of different approaches and limits of human portrait as one of the key genres of photographic medium is one of the main motives in works of visual artist Martin Pavel, who is working on multi-phase project Daily Portrait second year now. Project had started when photographer hired an atelier in Smíchov, where he used to invite his friends for photo sessions first. Later, people started to approach him themselves. He strived to document their faces by means of classical atelier portrait, in which the focus is to capture on the photograph each particular individuality. Resulting set of portraits should then, during reading the photographs, lead to comparison of different features and personalities of individual people and of pictures of particular generation style in different socio-cultural communities. At the same time, this reading through the “cultural” prism had to be denied by unprejudiced photographer’s approach to anyone who applied for the project and primarily by his request to photograph his objects half-naked and thus with some of their socially determining surface taken off. However, photographs have shown that it is impossible in effect. Long ago we discovered how deceptive the idiom “clothes make the man” is. That is to say, specific features of the society in which we are living within different communities are embedded much deeper in our bodies.
City image - Daily Portrait II 2012-2013:
After first year of project Martin Pavel launched his second phase, this time with Polaroid photography medium. He shifted the project to even greater degree of depersonalization of portrayed persons. This time, his goal was no longer to create a portrait set of individual personalities, but a compact documentary portrait of one city. Limits of the portrait are now disrupted by shift of his focus to general context of milieu forming the portrayed objects and vice versa, created by them. Theme of his photography is now half-naked figure of the portrayed person caught in the city environment, of which he or she is usually a quiet component.
Photographer is intentionally choosing those places, which we are passing by in hustle and bustle of everyday life and by way of provoking photograph he is trying to extract the portrayed person from this environment. At the same time, his effort is to discover the nature of these places through portrayed object. In centre of his interest is the investigation of city’s visual culture consisted not only of both people and typical panoramas with architecture, but also of the details of graphic signs or inscriptions. Author’s aim is to capture the city as a mental picture created through individual units and details and through dominant figures with multi-layer background. Captured everydayness is expressed also via number of photographs in whole set, which counts 365 portraits representing the countdown of days in the year. For author, each photo session represented an individual meeting with hitherto unknown person. He admits that one of his motivations for photographing large number of people was his interest in meeting different individuals, which he would not have any opportunity to get acquainted with otherwise. Everyday, people are limited to personal contact only with few people present in their immediate surroundings. In many cases, even portrayed participants themselves joined the project not because they wanted to make themselves visible medially, but to demonstrate by symbolic public exposure of their naked bodies certain removal of formal barriers between the people and to point out that they do not exist in the city only as some noise or as an indifferent background creating everyday reality, but also as human beings, which you can possibly get acquainted with. Entire project is thus motivated by a social gesture of a sort, the goal of which is first and foremost to bring people living in one city closer to each other. //Text: Jana Pavlová