The Classic
photographic series, 70 b/w photographs


Photographic series

The series includes about 70 black-and-white photographs made between 2001 and 2004 using classic photographic techniques on a panoramic film format without digital manipulation. The photos are divided into four chapters and feature shots from the Czech Republic, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Italy and New York.

I was interested in the degree to which it’s possible to make the mechanical eye record present-day reality from a different viewpoint, seemingly from another period of history. The main motifs of the series are time, history, reality, fiction, memory and the credibility of the record at the given time.

The project is intended as a book publication.
It is as if we were leafing through a book from an unknown time, at the same time browsing through our own memories – not our individual memory, but our collective one.


For a full three years – from 2001 to 2004 – Alena Kotzmannová worked on an extensive photographic cycle that she termed "Classic". These panoramic black-and-white photographs evoke a past that is hard to define: their atmosphere and visual motifs recall the 1930s, yet upon closer examination it becomes clear from the details that the photographs are not historic but contemporary. The peculiar optical effects have been achieved not only by the choice of themes, but equally through the use of a historic camera. As the artist herself stated about her intentions: "I was interested in what extent it is possible to force the mechanical eye of the camera to regard the present through the view of a different historic era." The themes depicted recapitulate the favoured repertoire of interwar Czech photographers: life alongside the river, the city at evening, public works and factories, bridges and chimneys, walls and courtyards, human figures at amusement or sport. Both situations and moods appear to us, somehow, intimately familiar, even though we cannot precisely state how. The figures in the photographs could be our great-grandparents, yet we cannot precisely recall their names or fates. "As if we were leafing through a book of unknown date, and at the same time through our own memory – not of course the individual but the collective" Kotzmannová has added.

Tomas Pospiszyl, independent art-critic and curator
(from the text for catalogue Impression,2005)