Today, when the revival of analogue photography is connected with a certain exclusive material artifact, the connection of conceptual photography and classical analogue black-and-white photography may seem a bit paradoxical. The work of Alena Kotzmannová (born in 1974) is based on those two processes.
Kotzmannová is an advocate of the „purity“ of photographic records. She never resorts to digital photo manipulation, to arranging scenes, she disturbs „the innocence of the photographic eye“ through the angle of view, exposure, work with detail and scale, etc. The result is not a beautiful snap in the traditional sense of the word. Kotzmannová takes pictures of trivial things, sometimes even ugly things and we may say about some of her photographs that they are against all principles of correct photography. Nevertheless, they have their own charm. The artist´s motto, which she also tried to pass on to her students, is that a photograph may be in the context of contemporary art more a means of expression than a technique.
After all Kotzmannová is not an unconditional photographer, although it is her most characteristic medium. She studied at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in the studio of conceptual art and intermedia and later in the newly founded studio of photography. What is typical of her is that she works with a photograph the same as with an object – as regards adjustment or the entire installation. She often combines photographs with video or slides and does not avoid projects in public space.
A characteristic feature of her work is a narrative that originates from assembling photographs into series – individual images do not necessarily have to be related to each other, the meaning generated mainly through associations is formed on the level of the whole.
Although Kotzmannová does not manipulate her photographs, she often creates a misleading picture. Playing with the viewer´s perception also plays an important role. This is achieved apart from others by a feeling of some kind of timelessness and of not being anchored in time and space, which the artist finds important. Therefore it is not surprising that the last couple of years her typical motif is the sea (and seafaring), whose seeming endlessness Alena Kotzmannová finds fascinating.

Tereza Jindrová

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