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Home Exhibitions Central European House of Photography Fedor Gabčan/ SK /People from Fortress 7.9. - 2.10.2016
Fedor Gabčan/ SK /People from Fortress 7.9. - 2.10.2016
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Fedor Gabčan : Peopele from Fortress
To look at or to see?
It’s hard to find a more absurd collocation of words than humanistic social photography. It’s similar to making a cast - iron hoop from wood. Poverty, a down and out life, misery in black and white photography and at the same time empathy, compassion, a little bit of humor and sometimes real absurdity. Just think of picture of a lonely boat in the midst of the awkward walls of a fortress.

In the photographs of Fedor Gabčan, people are portrayed not as miserable as in the popular press, but that they live their full-value, hard lives. They are the same as us but for some reason they are forced to live their lives in much harder conditions than us. Those people are not ashamed of their situation and they show their faces and personalities. They trusted Fedor and he did not misuse their trust. He didn’t uncover, he didn’t look for sensation, he didn’t condemn, he only documented the situation in the light of the best humanistic traditions.
Walls of fortress that went through their battles, fights, gunnery now serves as a safe home and protection for their residents. I was thinking that those fortress walls could serve a good purposes and it depends only on us how we will take advantage of them.
These photographs have laid for a long time in a drawer and now they are getting publicity. Most of the people portrayed in them are not alive any more or they are missing. It evokes a mystical atmosphere to compare the changing reality with what is recorded in the photographic picture that is unchanging. The reality has changed with time but the picture that the photographer has captured will never change. These photographs don’t lose their value, even though they were taken forty years ago. It is praiseworthy. The displayed reality has not lost its actuality, it has not changed. These people (or their offspring) live either a little bit better life or they live in worse misery than before. As one well-known Hungarian poet once raised a question in his poem: Does the world get a little bit further thanks to the books? All that knowledge and wisdom hidden in books. Has it changed the world? The poet is pessimistic. So am I. But we can ask a similar question with a little alteration: Has something changed because of our capturing this profound misery?
Usually my answer to these questions is negative, says Mr. Kincses, but maybe now as I see the photographs of Fedor Gabcan I am changing my mind. This material became important and valuable because it doesn’t show the present times, everyday life, joys and sorrows of the fortress residents. It tells us about the humanity of those who were able to live their lives in these hard conditions with self confidence and dignity. These get emphasized even more in this degraded environment. In this case it was a good thing that from 1968 to 1972 Fedor Gabcan took those photographs. And it is a good thing that he has shown them to us.
And I ask you, do not only look with your eyes but try to see what is captured below the surface of the photography. And then maybe at the end something happens…
Kincses Karoly

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