Winner 2014: Martin Kollar
Martin Kollar, born in what was formerly Czechoslovakia, receives the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award for his project Field Trip, a portfolio of photos taken in Israel.
The photos of the Field Trip portfolio were shot in the context of the project entitled »This Place«, a dossier about Israel and the West Bank on which Martin Kollar worked together with 12 other internationally acclaimed photographers. The aim of the project is to portray the diversity of the country and, in turn, to illustrate the complexity of one of the world’s most disputed regions. For Kollar, his time in Israel recalled memories of his own past in communist Czechoslovakia. Random frisking and arrests by the police were a part of everyday life, and the people of the region lived with the fear surveillance and denunciation.
With his photographs, Martin Kollar provides a transparent illustration of the current situation of the residents of this region. In this, he has captured everyday scenes as well as absurd and humorous situations. The visual content of his portfolio is diverse and it includes a range of subjects – from documentation of the military presence on the West Bank to landscapes, wildlife photos and portraits of the Israeli population. The scenes he captured are banal, absurd and comical in equal measure – and sometimes tragic. Kollar documents a strange and uneasy normality and, in this, depicts the trauma that prevails in the population. Although each of his photos can stand alone, there is a binding element between them all: an omnipresent tension. The military presence appears to be everywhere, and it is far from clear where militarised zones end and civilian life begins.
Martin Kollar was born in 1971 in Zilina, a town in what is now Slovakia. He studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. His photographic projects have been shown around the world, for example in the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai and at the Krakow Photomonth Festival. He has also been awarded numerous prizes.