The title of Adam Holý’s exhibition refers to the liquid layer (composed of nickel and iron, as well as cobalt, sulphur, silicon and oxygen) above the solid iron core of our planet.

Why the outer layer, and not the core itself? Our attention and passions are directed outwards, to “the outer core”, the space of transformation and movement, since the inner core concealed within us is hard, and dealing with it can prove painful… “What is soft, aims towards life, what is hard towards death…” wrote Arseny Tarkovsky, and in not wanting to extol the hard core, but rather its outer liquid components, Adam Holý too aims towards life.
Human vision also has a tendency to be dynamic and flitting. Adam Holý’s photographs do not provide us with a single depth of field, as we have become accustomed to when observing the world through a camera lens. Our eyes glide over the photographs, coming across sharp as well as blurred areas in all available planes, at all depths of the images. It is as if these photographs, reminiscent of impressionist paintings, had come into existence through the combination of diverse viewpoints somewhere in the collective consciousness. The result gives the impression of being the intersection of the points of view of a motley crew of observers – some long-sighted, some short-sighted and a few half-blind.
Characteristically, the photographs do not have trimmed edges, and are thus not rectilinear. The viewer is not provided with an ordered, right-angled image, and is deprived of the horizontal and the vertical, the two most basic axes used for orientation. The works lack a single, fixed depth of field, which together with the cropping of the image usually guides the viewer (as with most common photographic techniques). Conventionally, the part of an image that is in sharp focus also provides the focal point for the meaning conveyed. Jettisoned from the realm of classic analogue photography into the virtual world of the “all-seeing” image – a world without clear edges and traditional order – we find our eyes wandering over the landscape. This feeling of disorientation is further accentuated by the viewer’s inability to stand back from the large lightboxes and view them from a distance.


The exhibition is not dominated by landscapes, however, instead focusing on large-scale female nudes. The dimensions of the photographs are considerably greater than the height of the gallery and the images extend – horseshoe-like – upwards from the floor, up the wall, and part way over the ceiling. The folding of the images disrupts the line of the female body, much as we see in Baroque representations of female saints and martyrs in a state of religious ecstasy. Here, woman is more saviour than seducer, saving us from the hard, inner narcissistic ego.

Pavel Sterec

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