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Koudelka Critique

Koudelka

This image is an almost surreal image by Koudelka probably with his Rolleiflex camera. The people appear to be in line for something. The image was taken in Portugal in 1976. Koudelka was photographing european gypsies (of which there are many types) during the time just before the second world war.  The image appears to be taken earlier due to the clothing traditionally worn by the men and women in hat part of the world. The man on the far wall is holding a felt hat and is silhouetted against the wall. The little girl is looking off camera, giving the image a feeling of depth, as in something is happening just beyond the photographers field of vision.  The image is also framed interestingly with the light hitting the man above the neck at a diagonal, yet it accentuates the girl leaning on an opposite flowing line (slanting downwards). By having the two other figures facing the opposite direction, the little girl becomes the main focus of the image.

Koudelka would wander around “in search of pictures of a world that he felt was rapidly disappearing.” Gypsies have always been prosecuted and condemned, mostly because they are a nomadic people who have no home country. “Until the 1970s, the Swiss government had a semi-official policy of institutionalizing Yeniche parents as “mentally ill” and having their children be adopted by more “normal” Swiss citizens, in an effort to eliminate Yeniche culture.” (Wikipedia – Yeniche) This is and example of how they have a very difficult history. The persecution of Gypsies has been going on for centuries. He documented Gypsies and their lifestyles as they travel and lived all over Europe that were slowly disappearing over time. When he took this image, his intention was probably to capture a moment in time that would not be around for future generations to see how the living conditions were.

This image reminds me of people waiting in line to see an official of some sort, waiting to be certified for work or getting their passports to be able to leave the country. This image also conveys a timeline, with the young girl at the bottom of the frame, then the middle aged woman in the middle, with the old man farther off in the background. The look of almost worry is apparent on the girls face, giving the image deep emotion, whether it is impatience or worry. I also noticed how in image the two older people have darkened and partially hidden faces. This also makes me think of how youth has smiling young faces that are bright and catch your attention, whereas the older person usually has a heavy, dark face, weighed down by time and life experiences. It also makes me feel like it could be a  family in a hospital, waiting for the first stage of life, birth. I get this from the stark clean walls I really like how the image is devised by the light and not by the subject matter. The image really did capture the feeling of immigration and of culture.

I feel this image is very effective in giving you a sense of a different time and place. It also gives us the idea that the photographer really captured a moment demonstrating the different stages of life. This would not have been difficult in a non-studio setting, but because he was documenting what he saw in everyday settings and capturing moments like these in a fraction of a second, the image is even more impressive. I still am Trying to figure out what the “U” shaped pole is on the far left of the image. This would probably give a clearer idea as to what the subjects are waiting on.

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