“I was particularly interested in the imagery of the Slovakian photographers of the socialist era in the books commissioned by the towns to promote the ideal city. In those books you would find for example a photograph of a young couple pushing a pram along a border of red flowers, in front of a public building in Bauhaus style and then on the next page an enormous bulldozer photographed against the light, busy demolishing an old district to make place for socialist housing estates. The family of the future. A beautiful book, between fiction and documentary.”
The montage is finally always apparent. In the final versions of the series, everything is realistic to the eye, but the story-construction (grotesque or absurd) confirms the fictional or fake aspects of the image. The spatial discontinuities, the contradictions of light and perspectives then express (or amplify) the absurd nature of the situations shown. Moving into the direction of exaggeration, caricature or grotesqueness. Since the conception of photomontage, two lines of thought have been opposed: John Heartfield, who considered the new image thus produced as a new recreated photo (only few elements, a stripped down organic composition, but with a sense of humour and ridicule that in the end is quite like that of advertising), whereas the constructivists insisted on virtuoso compositions, composed of complex and visible fragments to incite enthusiasm and support for their ideas (the images are often without humour, but are strangely undermined by the distance taken from reality and the confirmation of the fragmentary). Socialist-realist art, confronted with this contradiction, ended up choosing Heartfield’s aesthetic, to be able to speak to the people and be less intellectual.
German philosopher Günther Anders speaks of how the production process is broken down in such isolated tasks that for the worker there is no visible effect of their own contribution. Moreover, none of the finished products show the work and the abilities that the employees have invested in them. The workers are active without clear objective; the work becomes an activity without meaning. This mechanical work without visible goal is for Anders only ‘an appearance of human activity’ absorbed into (active) passivity. Anders quotes the slogans ‘Just do your job’, ‘your future is taken care of.’
Those ideas of passivity and inactivity are present in my work, as well as the impossibility of fully comprehending what the workers whom I photographed are doing. The notion of passivity, Anders extends to leisure time, because, according to him, leisure time is not chosen but forced upon you by the media.