Silvestar Kolbas


1995 - 2009 Nataša and I were living in her apartment in Novi Zagreb. I loved to watch the meadow which could be seen from our window. There was something poetical in that scene. There was a path of an unusual, graphic shape. This path looked to me like a silhouette of a boy running. I began to obsessively record it on video and photography. We were trying to conceive a baby at the time, but that wasn’t going smoothly. We started the procedure of artificial insemination. We decided to record our efforts which finally bore fruit. We didn’t get a boy but a girl. We called her Eve. I made a film about it called “All About Eve”. I included the recorded scenes of the path in the film. Afterwards, I exhibited the photos of the path without making connections with the film. In these photos, I could still see a boy running. In time, I started to relate the photos of the path with the story of Eva’s birth. Soon enough, even Eva started to consider this path as her own.


2008 - 2009 Many photo shops that I knew of recently closed down. Skilled craftsmen worked in those shops and made portraits by an expressive use of lighting, controlled lens aperture, large-formats, or retouching techniques. The standard of their work was simple, but the works often widely differed, bearing the professional mark of each master. On one hand, new, simple and strict regulations about photos on official documents, and on the other, the digital revolution, have taken their toll. Photography was Mcdonaldized, and this was supported by the law. You can have your document photo taken anywhere by anyone – even someone without the professional training. Special skills are no longer required. However, trained photographers also do it. I decided to do a little experiment. Within a set time frame, in several Croatian cities, I would go and have my picture taken by a different and randomly chosen photographer every day and they would all be faced with the same request – making an ID or a passport photo. I would always be dressed the same: in a white T-shit, with the same glasses, and kempt hair and beard. I promised myself that I would go every day to a different photographer, regardless of everyday circumstances. I assumed that the difference between the images would be minimal, that I would look a bit different every time. But would those differences be noticeable at all? And If so, why? Will I change in these two months during the course of the experiment? Will the photos of my face be different because of (every day a bit different) me, or because of the (every day different) photographer? What will influence the outcome: my feelings that particular day or the individual characteristics of a photographer, his potential mastery, or if he’s having a good or a bad day? What’s more important? If I feel happy, anxious, tired, if I, perhaps, feel chilly in the studio, or different types of cameras, optics, lighting and the methods of printing? Will I turn out more handsome or less handsome, or will some of the photos just to be of better quality? Content or form? Will I get any answers?

The Cinema Crvena zvijezda

1991 - 2013 As I am a professional cameraman, I spent the year of 1991 shooting footage for the Croatian Television of the war-affected areas of Croatia, mostly in Vinkovci, where I grew up. In the city centre, on the promenade, where we spent our evenings idly strolling by, there was a movie theatre of my youth. In the fall of '91, the cinema hall was struck down by missiles. Before World War II, the cinema was a part of the Croatian Cultural House, but I remember it as the Cinema Crvena zvijezda, or as the Big Cinema. Do I even need to tell you how many of my memories are tied to this place? It is where I went out with my friends and girlfriends during my youth, but also where I dreamed about my movie career. In reality, I was filming its destruction. I perceived it as my personal failure and as a huge loss. In the ruins of the building I found boxes containing leftovers of a film tape. The tape was crumpled, dirty and its emulsions were damaged by the rain, but in some places, you could still make out what it contained. I placed the tape in a plastic bag and took it with me to Zagreb. It took me a long time before I worked up the strength to deal with its content. At a much later time, I enlarged the images found on the pieces of that film tape. One piece of film contained a black and white image of the promenade next to the old bridge in Mostar, a part of a newsreel shown before a feature film. The images on the other tapes are unrecognizable; weather conditions have dissolved the colour images into abstract stains. I was able to reconstruct a frame of 108 photograms. If projected at 24 frames per second, it amounts to 4 and a half seconds. I exhibited the enlarged series of 24 consecutive frames, one film second. For me, the enlarged series of photograms taken from the pieces of the found footage visually summarizes the whole war:the Serbian aggression against Croatia and Bosnia, the Croatian involvement in the war in Bosnia, and my inability to distance myself from all of that. That is why I consider the photographs created by enlarging the dirty photograms as my personal paradigm of war. They express the war frenzy, the impossibility to escape it and the feelings of utter loss caused by the war.