A Transition to Magic and Back

A photographic project by Boštjan Lah

A photographic exhibition

Author of the photographic project Boštjan Lah

When and where does a transition into a parallel world happen in theatre? Is it a point in time, a space, or events in it? On the stage, in the stalls, in the boxes, on the balcony? With the entrance into the hall, the foyer, or perhaps on the stairs leading to the theatre? How much happens in the wardrobes, warehouses, technical workshops? Does the transition from the everyday to the artistic happen by putting on make-up, changing clothes, turning on the spotlights, raising the curtain?

Photographer Boštjan Lah, perhaps because he’s also a sociologist, most often photographs people. He captures them in a pose, action, focus, response. He records situations. He invites us to a thought that begins with a situation he captured. At spectators, we feel that the majority of his subjects did not notice they were photographed, be it a street, theatre or other genre of photography. Adding to the success is definitely an optical device that can bring the look closer without necessarily posing the photographer in physical proximity. But there is more in the moments that Boštjan Lah has captured: somehow, he remains unexposed in the way he observes and responds. We meet him often but he’s never really obvious, because he knows how to blend in. And from this blending in he then observes, notices and presses the shutter release. He seems to take photos with a mixture of predetermined concept and momentary, unplanned response.

A series of photos from theatre backstage evokes a strong double impression. The first, indisputable and clear, builds the basic message – theatre is never just the time of the performance, never only a finite interaction between actors and spectators, it is also the before, after and in the background. Many things that the spectator’s eye can’t see directly, but perhaps through effects. The other, even stronger effect is through expectations. It is almost palpable that any moment now, something will happen. Everything is getting ready for the beginning of the transition. The focus is increasing and with it, the tension. In the midst of this increase, a man moves with a camera is moving, focused differently, and he seems calm, deliberate and attentive. Focusing on the focus.

Jerneja Ferlež, PhD