In an age, when photography is degraded to zeroes and ones available at a push of a button, a dazzling alchemical spectacle takes place in plain view of the audience: the wall comes alive.
ZOYA is the result of a years-long effort to overcome the boundaries imposed on photography by its paper medium. At first, a black and white film photography was taken with Hasselblad, it was then enlarged and developed from the negative directly on the plaster, using the classic silver work process without use of a paper. It was created in a unique old fashioned way using pure photographic art without digital intervention.
Thinking outside the frame
Since I started mastering the photographic craft in my darkroom, I've been thinking about developing the process. I do not print photographs, I only do handmade silver gelatin masterprints on fiber (baryta) based paper. It led to the point when I found the largest possible format of paper (which is 100x100 cm square format) too small. I desired to create a monument using extremely pure photographic method, without digital means and convenience of our era - to create something great that will last for ages in its place.
The Renaissance of photographic art
It took almost four years of making studies and experimenting until I made the first piece. The first piece with dimensions of 100 x 100 cm was created in a private property. When I started to exhibit in one of the most beautiful galleries in the country, I wanted to create something bespoke and extraordinary for its space.
Behind the frame
Two years after creating the first piece, I started to work on the unique artwork called Zoya, my first publicly accessible piece, which is situated in Zoya Museum near Modra, Slovakia. The gallery is named after the owner's daughter and is a symbol of maternal love. The gallery owner also owns the Elesko Wine Park company, which is located in the same building. I decided to combine the owner's daughter's portrait with Elesko Wine Park company's symbol: The 6 meters tall travertine stone monument called "Guardian of the vineyards". It is surrounded by vineyards in shape of an eye. Positioning of my artwork also has a symbolic meaning: the wall on which it is located lies on the imaginary border between the gallery and the wine park.
Making of Zoya
The portrait of Zoya was made at the stone monument so I could fit a fragment of her face into the frame with the sculpture. This is a principle of double exposure: after the first photograph is taken, you don't see it anymore, so it's necessary to remember its composition and the second photograph needs to be fit exactly into it.
After I've chosen the best frame, I made several studies that I consulted with the gallery owner. Together we decided how the final artwork should look like. The process of preparation could then start. It began with preparation of the wall to ensure that the final artwork will be durable and ended with blacking out the whole space. In case of Zoya it was impossible to completely black out the space, so the big darkroom had to be built. The preparation process lasted one week.
The artwork was made during a spectacular performance. This private event took place one week before opening of the exhibition of Slovak contemporary art named "More than 30". It was also Zoya's name-day. Zoya had a special part in the final process: she was the only person with me in the darkroom, assisting when needed and enjoying the magic in the immediate vicinity. The audience watched the creation of the artwork through small holes in the temporary darkroom in total darkness. The performance was interactive: I was explaining the process and sharing my thoughts with the audience. Then the portrait of Zoya appeared on the wall. The audience could see the artwork in full beauty after the darkroom was pulled back and the lights were switched on.
The extraordinary and supratemporal
Each piece is a unique, unrepeatable original. The conservation process follows after the performance, so the artwork could persist throughout the generations.