Collective memory can be described as a memory or memories shared or recollected by a group, as a community or culture and any collection of memories passed from one generation to the next . The “collective memory”' in our media age has exponentially increased thanks to the production of film, television and photography, which offer visual material to fill up the timeline of our memories. Now, questions like “What were you doing when the twin towers were attacked?” or “the day Diana died?” have iconic visual references which were documented and broadcast all over the world to become part of our collective society album.
Photographer Pavel Maria Smejkal examines these photographs of historical events "using images that have become our cultural heritage, constitute the memory of nations, serve as symbols or tools of propaganda, and exemplify a specific approach to photography as a document of the historical moment". In his project Fatescapes, Smejkal removes human bodies from iconic documentary photographs, very often the witnesses of conflicts, and questions the purpose and function of the medium. “Aware that their authenticity is not unquestionable, I return to these key images after they have been reinterpreted numerous times from various perspectives, and by manipulating their content, I explore their purpose, function, and future” reflects the photographer. Evoking a universal photographic legacy, Smejkal shakes the status quo of traditional photojournalism by highlighting the weakness of our retentive powers.
Pavel Maria Smejkal, DM, MA, born in 1957 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Graduated his studies at the Veterinary University, Kosice, in 1983 and the Institute of Creative Photography at Silesian University in Opava, Czech Republic, 2009 (MA). Works as freelance photographer, curator, lecturer. A chairman of non-profit organization PhotoART Centrum in Kosice, Slovakia. An author of Second Cities documentary project, http://www.2ndcities.net.