In his project "Life in Blue", the photographer Evzen Sobek has devoted himself to a typically Czech leisure activity, caravanning. A certain group of people has been enjoying this activity for decades on the shores of the Nové Mlýny reservoirs.
A number of the photos evoke the minimalist pictures of the New Topography. With time, however, we realize that the photographer has presented us with an interesting social phenomenon – a view of the special leisure activity of people who have decided to create second homes in bizarre architectural artifacts in man-made places in the great outdoors.
The community of "former" caravanners photographed here, have for reasons unknown to us given up their freedom of movement, wandering, the nomadic life (which was, after all, the original aim of the travel trailers and mobile homes), and have settled down in their chosen locality in south Moravia.
Who, then, are the owners of these dwellings, who for their buildings use recycled material similar to those used by the inhabitants of the slums of Latin America and Africa or the ghettos? What motivated these people to build this kind of house in an environment whose charm vanishes (except for the ever-changing water levels) after a few stays, and most probably will become as uninspiring as any colony of allotment gardens?
A precise answer can probably only be provided by the diehard anglers. But what leads other members of the community (wives, children, other relations and acquaintances) to a voluntary weekend or summer stay in this milieu? Is it out of a need, or a duty to follow the family, or some kindred spirit, or out of the joy that a visit may provide? Is it from a desire to meditate in the great outdoors?
Other questions arise when observing the urban plan of this place. What is the attraction for the inhabitants of this caravan ghetto? Is it the need to continue informal contacts in a romantic environment? Perhaps here, unlike in a town or city, the longing for community life is fulfilled. Or does a grounded caravan simply offer space to put the legendary Czech DIY dexterity into practice?
The answers to these questions might be provided by the caravanner-settlers. But our intuition tells us that most likely they themselves do not know why they are there.
— Jiri Siostrzonek
Evzen Sobek took part in the 2010 FotoFest Houston Biennial Portfolio Review.
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