The architectural framework, the historical and natural characteristics of space, the temporal component and the sociological approach are the constitutive elements which on different levels create the intertwining of the intersection points of meaning and the visual effect of images.
The HK project is a photographic documentation of Hutter’s colony at Pobrez¹je in Maribor, a suburban workers’ dwelling community, commissioned by a Maribor factory owner Josip Hutter between 1936 and 1937. Single-storied semi-detached houses imitate the shape and the floor plan arrangement of single-family villas with the high ground floor, a gabled roof and a veranda at the entrance. These simple housing units are arranged in the spatial design of four rows with five houses.
The described architectural composition, with two rows of the back/garden sides of the houses intersecting each other, was the basis for the positioning of photographer’s viewpoint. The photographer was positioned in front of the intersection points of garden fences and photographed the central view of each house with the gardens of the northern and southern rows of houses.
The basic conceptual framework of the HK project brings up numerous questions regarding the conveyed content of an image. These photographs, however, can be read from different angles. On a walk between the gardens, where the dwelling community’s inhabitants’ intimate space and sometimes even the inhabitants themselves can be uninterruptedly observed, the the viewer finds himself in a voyeuristic position of the forbidden gaze.
The repetitive sequence of the same motif frame directs the viewer towards the discovery of the diversity of architectural transformations which happened over time, towards the exploration of the functions of natural space and human interventions into it, as well as towards the individuality of human occurrence. The stories told by the photographs, despite their obvious exploratory approach, convey a dedication to individual human destinies by recording the inhabitants’ intimate daily lives.
In the broader sense the HK project draws attention to the genius loci of Maribor’s space and raises the awareness of social reality. The issue of man’s dwelling in a social and cultural environment inscribes itself into the complex intertwining of existential necessities presented a dark pictorial field. On the level of historical dialogue, the relation with reason for the creation of the colony itself, from the beginnings of a capitalist society as well as today, should not be overlooked. The fence between the houses (drawn into the pictorial field as a notch in the foreground of two-piece compositions) alludes to the message about the necessity of human coexistence in a dwelling community.
Matjaz Wenzel was one of three photographers chosen to represent Slovenia in 2008 at the nightlong projection of photographs from 27 European countries at the Rencontres Festival in Arles.