Once again I’m facing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Please, let me introduce you to both of them. Here it is the outer Martin: a good-looking young Czech guy who confesses to have a terrible hangover because a wild party the night before. But also, here it is the inner Martin: a collection of faded universal memories that relate to his unconfessable desires and emotions.
My first diagnosis points to the short time Martin has dedicated to his first hobby and now almost profession: photography. This two years of black and white scenes are not enough time to Mr. Hyde to eat, swallow and make disappear Dr. Jekyll. Or maybe any of them couldn’t live without the other.
It’s always the same, two worlds, two “me”
Like a leitmotiv, he goes on and on repeating that there are two Martins. The outer one seems to be optimistic in as a high as 95% of the time, painted with a great number of colors. The outgoing young who attaches an smiley emoticon to almost every sentence and a resounding laugh if I say something like a joke to cold the atmosphere.
The inner one seems to be much more complicated. I’m not going to tell you the deepest secrets of this adorable guy but I could only tell you that he keeps two lives. Martin as the avatar for MSN who works in a boring position as a contact manager. Martin as the tortured soul who wants to escape from the rush of Prague on the top roofs of the city or to deepen on his memories by shooting.
At first, I thought that the foggy atmosphere in his photographs might have something to do with classical noir films. This conclusion leaded me to the legend of Bogart corrupted by a woman, all the story packaged with gallons of whiskey and lots of cigarettes.
In the end, the black and white choice pointed to an effective trick of concentration. The less colors, the more emotions. His inner world is divided in only two colors, the color of the memories because not only the details have disappeared in time and the main plot has survived but also, for the rest of our lives, they will be classified in a strict list in which a memory can only be positive or negative. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Black and white. The binary structure of Western world.
But music – that’s my muse
That’s the trigger. The hidden memories that come out to life in dreams in most of the cases float to the surface while listening to music. He’s a confessed iPod addict who listens to music every time of the day, especially when taking or editing photographs. And it has to say a lot. If you don’t agree with me, please listen carefully to the song playing in the web page as an OST for Martin’s artwork. The soft voice intoned as a prayer, the calm atmosphere she creates but at the same time the evocative rhythm of the music that invites you to almost drown into your deepest feelings and then, give them live in tears or, for the lucky talented ones, in the form of art.
Sometimes Martins gets stucked in a lyric that keeps on repeating in his head. In these cases isn’t an inspiration as we are used to think about. There is no light bulb on above Martin’s head, there’s no illustration for a song. One of his photographs entitled “With all my lies” reflects his own vision of a common social behavior: hiding behind a set of personalities we barely know which is the real one.I am wired. I am tired of being someone that I am not. Tired of showing. Tired of going along with all my lies. I wish that I was so strong and I could tell you That all this time I’ve been wrong.
Photos like mirrors!
Trust me, everyone should go to the psychologist at least once in life. Psychologists have replaced the role of confessors in catholic societies and those that haven’t had need of them, they didn’t realize how useful they are. It has nothing to do with absolution of our sins, it’s more related to a need for confessing our deepest feelings and thoughts in order to find out that they are universal or, at least, normal.
The photos of Martin have this unusual characteristic of reflection. The first reflection comes when we realize that his faded memories are exposed with a lack of intimacy unusual to our society. The second one comes when every single one can see something of him or herself in that specific photograph. First reaction is shock, then it comes the blush and, immediately after that, the look out of the corner of the eye to check that nobody noticed.
Martin Stranka likes to think of his photos as understandable for anyone, even if you don’t know the exact trigger for Martin ”my work is so personal yet somehow universal they seem like your own memories.” So, please, no personal questions, no curiosity. Please keep some of the intrigue.
Martin told me an anecdote that happened to him in the vernissage of his last exhibition. There were hundreds of people, most of them relatives, friends and acquaintances. There was also a radio ready to interview him. He was then paralyzed when they asked him what was behind his works. He is comfortable with the exposure of his intimacy in the pictures but only because of this universal feeling that I mentioned above. His ultimate intention is to “show that we all are human, with heart, eye and soul. I don’t want to make it sound like a stupid phrase, but it’s true”
And finally, a few words about…
I, me. “It’s not good to judge my personality according to my art (…)I can say, my current life is one big party”
Idyllic. “I was used to live in an idyllic world, but some experiences opened my eyes”. “If I try to imagine anything about idyllic now, it’s serenity”
Fetish. “I don’t know why, but I love how this word plays with my mind and thoughts” “My biggest fetish is feet. Not in a sexual way but in some kind of interesting way”
Silence. “In my inner world, silence and serenity are synonyms for me”
Fiction. “Fiction could be my surname, Martin Fiction (…) I like to see usual things in unusual ways”
Delirium. “That’s how I feel after yesterday’s party”
Secrets. “Secrets should be an important part of anyone’s mind. Anyone who has no secrets, he doesn’t exists”
by María del Castillo
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