Kotzmannová, Alena / Somebody Is Calling You
plastic-coated photograph on canvas; 83 × 157 cm; limited edition 1/1
purchased 2018 with the support of the Czech Ministry of Culture
In this photograph, the doubling of the phone boxes is not the result of deliberate software manipulation, but a photographic imprint of an autonomous local situation. The photograph was presented as part of a video projection, combined with the soundtrack of a telephone ringing and the steps of passers-by. The phone boxes – lit up and “calling” into the darkness – stand like solitary lighthouses, urging us to communicate, even though nobody is interested in such communication. The motif of the phone boxes also carries another strong layer of meaning; in the contemporary world, the depiction of these objects can be perceived as a form of visual archeology. In 2000, when the photograph was taken, phone boxes of this type were still a normal part of public space. Today they are present in the streets only sporadically, so the passing of time has imbued them with an urgent sense of loneliness and abandonment which is captured in the photograph. Although relatively little time has elapsed since the photograph was taken, we already view it as a symbol of a past that has since been superseded. The photograph thus not only contains its own autonomous atmosphere and expression; it also reaches out to serve as evidence of an increasingly accelerated world in which things grow old very quickly. The mobile phones which replaced land lines and phone boxes were expected to make human communication more intensive, more accessible, and better overall. However, alongside the internet (another tool which was presented as a facilitator of communication), mobile phones have in fact arguably contributed to an increase in human isolation and depersonalization.