Martin Kollar – Field Trip, reviewed by Klaus Pichler

I have been thinking about which book I should particularly recommend here for some time, but when I got hold of Martin Kollars new book ‘Field Trip’, my decision was clear. This book is one of the rare occasions when the tension in the images is almost physically palpable whilst viewing. Kollar, who grew up behind the ‘iron curtain’ of communist Czechoslovakia, got flashbacks to the feelings of his childhood days when he spent some time in Israel, leading to a steady feeling of slight paranoia. In this book, he takes up the mission to condense recurring feelings of surveillance and suspicion into strange, irritating and sometimes haunting images. His view on Israel raises more questions than it answers.

In his previous two books, ‘Nothing Special’ (2008) and ‘Cahier’ (2011 ) Kollar already has been a master in capturing everyday scenes bearing an absurd touch, combined with his sense of calm picture composition increasing the ‘normality’ of the depicted scenes and thus makes all even more grotesque .

With ‘Field Trip’ Kollar is political without being political. It is the complex and clueless situation of a country that has to organize his everyday life under the sign of the Middle East conflict, which sticks in your mind whilst looking at the images. In the pictures of this book, mostly landscapes and portraits, you never know whether you are in everyday life or in a military exercise area, and therefore you never know what the pictures really show. Through this perplexity, the reception of the images is drawn to a psychic dimension that gives us a range of emotions: fear, confusion, uncertainty.

The reduced and calm layout of the book increases the tension of the pictures, the relatively small size of the images forces you to get really close to the book , which literally sucks one into the pictures (and their strange mood).

A really good example of a contemporary photo book which is even more haunting by its unobtrusive reduction.

Field Trip by Martin Kollar can be purchased here.

Klaus Pichler, born 1977, lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He originally studied Landscape Architecture in Vienna, but after his diploma in 2005 he decided to become a full-time photographer and since then is working on free photo projects. Besides that, he is photographing for international magazines and agencies. He is represented by Anzenberger Gallery from Vienna, Austria.