Balkan Playground, photo essay by Michal Korta
“If the Balkans hadn’t existed, they would have been invented” was the verdict of Count Hermann Keyserling in his famous 1928 publication, Europe.
I want to tell you a story. A story about identification of people and places. The story about what Balkans are today. One of the definitions of the Balkans is a geographical one, describing the countries on the Balkan Peninsula south of the River Danube. Another describes the Balkans as Slavic states which were once under Turkish (Ottoman) influence. I’m looking for a new definition. As the great photographers of the road, who travelled across America and created a significant panorama of the US over the last 70 years, I travelled across the United States of Balkans.
In the end of summer I hit the road without any plans, any prejudices (expectations) or date of return. The only goal was to explore personally what Balkans are. I travelled across 11 Balkan countries. I was travelling by car, as slowly as I could. I slept in the car, I put myself in photography mood. My mind was one-eye input machine. I sometimes step behind the shadow line and observe the reality. I created the series that shows people and places in that specific time in universal way.
If you want to join me, take a look at the Balkan Playground pictures, read between the lines and listen to the story.
Q&A with Michal Korta
…just a surface, the real story happens between the frames.
Photography and writing…
Both are equal mediums, it is good if they can compliment each other. But sometimes it is wiser to left some images/word unspoken…
Who left the biggest impression on you?
Three portrait photographer of my youth are: Helmut Newton, Albert Watson and Irving Penn. It changed meanwhile, now I have more modern masters.
Tell us a little about yourself
As I get older, I realize what was my way as a photographer. I seem to me that I walked in circle to get to the beginning point, but with other consciousness. I was looking for creation, beauty, simplicity in portraits. Now the most important aspect is the truth. For now it is what I’m looking for in art, generally.
Michal Korta (www.michalkorta.com) Born in Poland, studied German philology and photography. He has been working in photography for more than 15 years. Co-operates with press, advertising agencies and international cultural institutions. Lecturer on photography in Poland and Switzerland.
Main topics in his personal projects are identity, identifications and coincidences. Most important projects are: Former Russian Republics (2006), Kazakh Dismounted (about former nomads in Uzbekistan, 2010), Balkan Playground (2014).