Pavel Baňka represents a highly unique and individual figure within Czech photography over the past four decades, openly embracing a close connection to amateur photography and a corresponding breadth in terms of his “photographic quests”. The exhibition Proximity offers extensive insight into previously unseen photographic cycles created between the late 1970s and the present, charting the artist’s ventures into portraiture with a social subtext.
The thematic approach of the exhibition derives from what began as his personal photographic diary, From My Life. The point of departure in terms of formal content emerges from improvised photo sessions held at a series of bazaars organized by the artist at his home in the 1980s and developed during subsequent years also by photographing the predominantly African-American community at a local youth center in Syracuse, N.Y., Baňka’s first artistic residency in the United States.
Rather than a systematic portrait of society, Proximity instead presents a record of the photographer’s encounters with his subjects, both “at home” and in the various countries around the world where he has lived on a long-term basis. “It is a process of transcending solitude, a mode of silent dialogue,” says Baňka in describing his approach, revealing a very personal and little-known part of his extensive body of work.