04 July 2007

Invited guest: Bela Doka

"It's happening in a small village in the Hungarian countryside ,
where I photographed my girlfriend's family.
It's a kind of reflection,
how a family from the big city having a
real "wellness" feeling
in a small village." - Bela Doka

I am glad to see Bela Doka as our guest. His pictures are a joy to explore.
I can sense his passion, his love of photography whether it be in pictures
from Cuba, Eastern Europe or the Holga journey showing Belorussian faces.
Visit Bela Dokas site to see for yourself; www.beladoka.com

This series showing his family is an excellent choice to show here in my
opinion. So warm and inviting. Many thanks Bela! -urbano

The text that goes along with the pictures is written by Adele Eisenstein.

Village Wellness Imaginary(?)

Paradise 2005- Hungarian countryside

The photographer usually turns his lens on the other, as he is shielded
behind it, and we only get a feeling about him/her through the visions
we see through his eyes, and his perspective upon it, yet there is
always a screen “protecting” him from personal exposure. In this
case, this is the most personal and intimate of views, where we
actually get to see the photographer himself, and the idea of hiding
from the viewer does not even enter into speculation. Yet what is
most interesting in this personal exposure is that the shots that
most directly “expose” the photographer are not actually those in
which we see him – in one case, looking directly and openly into the
lens, and thus, into our eyes, but rather the images recorded of
the people around him – his most direct and closest circle of his
personal and intimate life.

It is clear that the younger woman appearing in a majority of the shots
is his love interest and takes on the role of a sort of muse in many of
the shots. We rarely see her face – though we see a great deal of her
perfectly fit body.

The older couple is most clearly her parents – which is most clearly
revealed in my favourite of all the series – again, faces almost obscured
– mother and daughter – this is one of the clearest examples of a time
machine I have ever seen outside the realm of science fiction. Both women
are facing into the setting sun, which projects dramatic shadows, and
their posture as a means of protection against the strong rays hitting
their eyes is virtually identical.

As the perspective leads into the past, we might miss the male character
practically hidden in the shadows. He is busy shelling walnuts, oblivious
to the revelation cast in bright light and long shadows before him.
Yet, in other takes, he is visibly reaping the most joy of his Garden
of Eden – not imaginary, but very real.

This series seems to provide solace to the photographer, or rather
photojournalist, who is most often focusing his lens on the most
dramatic moments, on the split-seconds between life and death, on
the tragedies and inequities of the world, current events, the “developing”
world. Here, we find no dramatic moments at all, but rather the true
banalities of daily life – Sunday life.

These are the moments when the members of a family, each in their
own way, try to gain an inner peace, a healthy balance to their hectic
everydays in the city. Village Wellness – of course, there is a kind of
irony to the title – a simpler answer to the needs of modern man, a
reminder to return to our roots – to the original Paradise.

And if we take the time to enter into these vignettes, to be sensitive to the
subtleties, we will find a poignant side of life, one that doesn’t come out and
hit us immediately. There are even a couple of shots that seem to be strangely
surreal – but they are real, and natural. Almost idyllic, but always with a
little twist.

And finally the most idyllic shot of all – almost impossible that this is a
photograph, and not an Impressionist painting: a kind of Eve in a paradise-like
field of poppies, looking toward a vista of blue mountains – but once again, we
are brought back to reality – not with a jolt, but just a nudge: the electrical
power lines that lead our eyes to the horizon.

All pictures by ©Bela Doka
Text ©Adele Eisenstein
invited by ulf fågelhammar