Jakub Beseda, The Space Between. Cox Gallery, 1/19 Eastlake Pde, Kingston | Until 29 January 2021
Jakub Beseda discovered photography during high school years. Like so many others, he experienced that magical moment in a wet darkroom - developing and printing his first photograph.
Studying photomedia at university, focusing on capturing the built environment, led to architecture and exploring how people interact with those environments. Beseda uses photography to document how we perceive and interact with the designed spaces around us.
I have previously enjoyed some of Beseda's imagery on Instagram. It was great to see his prints. Images printed start speaking to us, invite us to be a part of them and, at times, let us hold or touch them. Providing background to his exhibition, Beseda quotes the famous American freelance photojournalist Steve McCurry: "Some of the great pictures happen along the journey and not necessarily at your destination".
When people travel, or when they are journeying near home, using photography to explore particular places is a worthy approach. It allows the artist to provide viewers, themselves included, with a sense of what those places mean. A place can be a physical one, or an imaginary one evoked by experience and emotion. It can be the detail of a single location, or an extensive exploration of an entire street, city or rural property. Our images of one place might stir another's memories of a different place - or invite others into our own memories.
Good contemporary images, such as those in this exhibition, suggest rather than describe. They allow us to use our imagination. Returning to the place where he was born, after an absence of 30 years, Beseda wanted to reconnect and explore his roots. The places have changed, the people have grown. His images invite us into his memories. Using his camera as a tool to arrest the fractures of time and explore the intersections of natural and built environments, Beseda discovered things. He has interpreted places seen again many years after leaving Europe; places he would have been unable to visit in earlier years.
He wanted to join the dots of his past to his place now; and discover the dots of his future. That is, to connect moments and events that have shaped his past life and will shape his future - not necessarily static, some significant and others mundane. He doesn't think he has been successful discovering the dots of his future - not surprising as most of us cannot prophesy. However, he has been successful in his explorations with his camera, having discovered and learned - both personally and artistically.
All eleven excellent prints on display are worthy of individual contemplation. They were taken from moving cars, buses or trains; so many include the familiar blur often seen. I saw these blurs as metaphors - for the spaces between his previous and now lives. As for many of us, his memories may have become a mix of reality and fantasy - a blurred space between the past and now.
The prints in the exhibition have a strong horizontal linearity about them, seemingly drawing lines between the dots of his childhood and now. There are spaces between the artist's camera and the captured scenes. Some images might remind us of places we have passed through; near where he was or somewhere else altogether. The images aren't, intrinsically, architectural, landscape, documentary or travel photos - although some may see them as such. For me they lend themselves more to intentional creative expression.
The Space Between is presented in association with DESIGN Canberra, and all profits from sales will be donated to the Black Dog Institute.