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In search of America

Hledání Ameriky

In search of America
Author: Jiří Hanke
Category:Books, Photography, Art
Language: English and Czech
Translation: Stephan von Pohl
Page count: 72
Binding: Hbk
ISBN: 978-80-7437-139-4
EAN: 9788074371394
Date: 2014
Issue number: 1.
Price: 18 EUR
Size: 15 x 28 cm
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At the 1990 Houston FotoFest, the organizers decided to include a section on Czech photographers. Ten of them attended the opening reception, including Hanke, who spent a month traveling across the United States. He was at the New York cathedral when it hosted a “Concert for Václav Havel” featuring Paul Newman, Henry Kissinger, and Dizzy Gillespie. “In the United States, I photographed interesting places, more or less for myself,” Hanke remembers. “After retuning home, my wife noticed similarities between a photograph of a gate to a Texas ranch and a picture of the road leading to the Nosek mine near Tuchlovice. Over time, I put together a series that explores formal and dramatic similarities between the Czech and the American landscape.” In pairs of photographs, Hanke finds affinities between the structural contours of the Texas countryside, Harlem, Central Park, Manhattan and Long Island on the one hand, and Kladno and central Bohemia on the other. A central Bohemian to the core, with In Search of America Hanke nevertheless becomes a European, placing Basel, Rügen, and Bratislava’s Petržalka neighborhood on Kladno’s side of the equation. He creates pairs of urban panoramas and parks; bridges and the world in their shadow where the structure’s purpose loses all meaning; New York’s Flatiron Building and a Kladno restaurant; the timeless beauty of Czech and American horses; parallel advertising surfaces whose iconic installations (for instance, for Camel cigarettes) colonize our world; cars, campers, and trailers as modern forms of our nomadic solitude; junkyards; and people from the margins – America represented by the homeless, the Czech Republic by retirees working on their DIY projects, all of them looking as if taken from the same comic play.