© Markéta Othová

© Markéta Othová, Pardon?, 2005

Markéta Othová

Czech photographer Markéta Othová (b.1968, Brno, Czechoslovakia) has been working with photography since the early 1990s, following her studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, where she still lives.

Although Othová's photographs are almost exclusively black & white, her work does not fit into the traditional tropes of documentary or art photography with which the black & white medium is usually associated. Large in scale, low in resolution, unframed and pinned to the wall, her images are distinctly presented and structured through carefully edited linear and grid-like sequences interspersed with the occasional stand-alone photograph.

Othová carefully groups together photographs taken from a back catalogue of images, sometimes taken over a number of years. Her intriguing juxtapositions of interiors, street scenes, landscapes and still lifes transform photographic observations into unsettling visual codes. In this way, Othová adjusts the context surrounding her ostensible subjects so that their representation becomes uncertain. In earlier works, this effect was accentuated literally through black shapes painted directly onto the surface of the photograph.

Influenced as much by literature, music and film as photography, Othová chooses titles which have astrangely searching, resonant, but ultimately unspecified meaning. Examples such as "A Perfect World", "Fire for Pockets!" and "Utopia" sound like titles of poems or stories. Others, like "Paris - Texas", "Excalibur" and "Sony Music" remind us of song and film titles. Her 2001 series of 10 interiors called "Different Voices (Jiné hlasy)", (2001) was inspired by the Truman Capote novel "Other Voices Other Rooms" while "Allegro Ma Non Troppo" (1999) refers to a musical term meaning, fast but not too much.

Some of her recent works, described as "time-collecting" projects, deconstruct the temporal aspects of photography. Obtaining multiple perspectives (by shifting the camera angle or repeatedly clicking the shutter) imbues her images with a subtle, surrealist edge. "Return (Návrat)", (2000), a series of 12 photographs, captures a woman walking her dog up and down a suburban street. In "Utopia", (2000) agroup of children appear to play unobtrusively next to a building.

This exhibition, entitled "Pardon?", presents a series of nine images of unspecified landscapes, interiors and an unidentified object. As its title suggests, the title poses an ironic, rhetorical and softly existential question. What Othová seems to raise is the kind of malleable, imaginative potential of the medium and an obtusely playful detachment or disregard for capturing reality. The depictions of the world are somehow always degraded, flattened and abstracted so that the illusion of plasticity and reality is minimised, and the relation between perception, memory and knowledge is thrown into a poetic confusion.

Othová has exhibited in various solo and group shows including: "Photography??", House of the Lords of Kuntát, Brno (2005), Prague Biennial II, Karlin Hall, Prague (2005), "Different Voices", House of Arts (2003), "Markéta Othová und Yoshimoto Nara - Fotografien", Neues Museum Nürnberg, Germany and "CI:99/00", Carnegie International 1999/2000, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA. This is her first solo exhibition in the UK.

Clare Grafik, Exhibition Curator

Exhibition: 5 May - 9 July 2006
Gallery hours: Mon-Sat 11 am - 6 pm, Sun noon - 6 pm

The Photographers' Gallery
5 Great Newport Street
UK-London WC2H 7HY
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