Provisional Arrangement is the realisation of the project that Martin Kollar submitted for the Prix Elysée launched in 2014 with the support of the Parmigiani Fleurier. The exhibition presented from September 21 to December 31, 2016, is the result of two years of work of the Slovak artist, confirming the museum’s commitment to sustaining contemporary photographers. As provided by the prize, of which he is the first winner, the photographer received a financial contribution to finalise his project and to publish the book of it. Free to choose a publisher, he wished to work with MACK in London, with which the Musée de l’Elysée is associated as co-publisher. Convinced by the quality of his work, the museum proposed him, in addition, to produce an exhibition.
For several months, Martin Kollar roamed the roads of Europe and searched through his personal archives to bring together in a rich corpus his idea of the provisional – a difficult subject to address visually. Nevertheless, Kollar didn’t waver and, with Provisional Arrangement, offers us around thirty images that all, in their own way, explore the notion of temporary – and, implicitly, the far broader notion of memory in the process of (de)construction.
Brought up in communist Czechoslovakia, the artist has always been fascinated by the clash between the unchanging aspects of our society and those that become a fleeting part of it to compensate for life’s trials and tribulations. In this way, he presents images of the backdrop for a generation for whom the provisional governed everyday life, when it was more a question of adapting to endless variations than putting down lasting roots in a defined time and place – a world in which durability could not be counted on – rendered poetically by this photographic journey capturing the disintegration of the permanent in favour of the temporary and provisional.
“Accepting the journey proposed by Martin Kollar means being willing to let oneself go, to be destabilised by the intrinsic force of images, by the multitude of feelings that they arouse, that supplant each other and then disappear, one after the other,” evokes Lydia Dorner, curator of the exhibition, at the end of the publication Provisional Arrangement.
Martin Kollar was born in Zilina, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) in 1971. He studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and has worked as a freelance photographer and cinematographer since he graduated. He has contributed to the making of several documentaries and films, as director of photography, cameraman and producer, notably for Koza (2015), Velvet Terrorist (2013), Cooking History (2009), 66 Seasons (2003), and the animated film In the Box (1999). He made his directorial debut with the short auto-biographical portrait, Autoportrait (2012), and a first medium-length film, 5 October (2016).
He has received numerous grants and awards for his photography, including the Backlight Photography Award in Finland (2002, 2008) and the Oskar Barnack Award in Germany (2014), as well as the first Prix Elysée (2014-2016). His work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum (2016), the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava (2015), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2015), the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris (2006) and the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin (2004).
Provisional Arrangement (MACK / Musée de l’Elysée, 2016) is his fifth book, after Nothing Special (Actes Sud, 2008), Cahier (Diaphane, 2011), Field Trip (MACK, 2013), and Martin Kollar. Catalogue (Slovak National Gallery, 2015).