mardi 30 janvier 2024

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After Dark

Jitka Ertelovà

, Christophe Galatry et Jitka Ertelovà

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

A young photographer living on the eastern edge of the Czech Republic, in a small town called Karlovy Vary, surrounded by open-cast mines and suffocatingly heavy snow. In any case, this is what the atmosphere of her images reveals, oozing a universe where the dazzling immaculateness of the white snow and the objects it surrounds fall into the black hole of night, which here seems to have no return and no end. No hope, however suspended, can emerge from Jitka Ertelovà’s universe. Her opus is worthy of the darkest of noir novels, where each photograph compels us to search for a corpse, certainly hidden here or there, slightly bulging out of this white, leaden surface... it’s up to you to find it.


« I am a night animal. I have always found it fascinating how the darkness can transform even the most familiar things into something different. Walking through familiar parts of the town brings intense feelings of freedom and peace and at the same time, the need to focus harder on every small detail, hardly audible sound, intuition talking to me.

What is my town like ? It is small, nevertheless, its population of around 14,000 inhabitants rates it among « larger » towns of the Karlovy Vary Region, that is the smallest, coldest and poorest of all regions of the Czech Republic. My town is situated on the foothills of the Ore Mountains and is surrounded by coal and clay mines. Indeed, it is not a fancy tourist destination by any means.

Blocks. Parking lots. Blocks. Their ubiquitous presence may make one easily forget that the town originated in the 12th century. Only a few historical buildings left, not to speak about the displacement of the original German population after WW2. That is my town in a nutshell. The goal of the series is not to examine the town’s transformation, complicated history, or the relationship of its ‘new’ inhabitants whose ancestors came from various parts of (not only) my country.

I am a night animal, do you remember ? I like the vibes coming after sunset. Dimly lit by the street lights, the routes I know by heart, seemingly boring, unworthy of attention, become mysterious thanks to the darkness. Almost no one in the streets. I feel like walking through a ghost town.

My attention is at its peak. Vincent van Gogh’s quote about how night is more alive and richly coloured than day describes my perception perfectly. No way my series would be full of colours. Shades, reflections, high contrasts, and leaving many details up to a viewer’s imagination were my choices for conveying the vibes. How strange, an almost sinister feeling came down my spine while I was standing in the dark, watching the snow or rain falling on an empty playground, usually full of kids during the day. Are there any people living in all those blocks at all, or are there just vacant shells waiting for someone to come in and turn on the lights ?

I may be caught in a vortex of thoughts and feelings, but despite that, I remain calm. I savour the magic moments that stop time, breathing the cold air that turns lungs into metal. Anywhere I go, my camera goes, ready to capture the strange, mysterious atmosphere of the small, mining town after dark. Join me on my exploration, meet me among blocks. I will show what you would fail to notice in broad daylight. »

broken but alive
find me
leave the town
magical emptiness
play with me
point blank
spider web
time passed

Voir en ligne : Vogue

Sur Instagram : @jitkaertelova

My passion for photography began after undergoing the final eye surgery in 2007. I am still lazy-eyed, and have astigmatism and high myopia,
I observe objects, nature, people, and everything I can, feeling as if a brand new world opened for me to explore.
I do not look for beauty to capture. I explore inner peripheries, ready to capture my new world.

winter trees