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Mr Jourdain, the protagonist of Molière's The Bourgeois Gentleman, did not know that he had been speaking prose for decades - the protagonists of Voranc Vogel's photographs do not know that they are funny, comical and amusing, that funny things happen to them. And even if they are not in the photograph, they are still funny, in fact even funnier - because they are overshadowed and blown away by their objects, who are just as funny, comical, mischievous and amusing, because they imagine that they are alive and absolute, that they live their own lives and don't need a human being. If Voranc's photographs were films, then these objects would have got on the nerves of a Tati - or an Inspector Clouseau.

Not that the protagonists of these photographs - snapshots from the street - knew in advance what was going to happen. "That" only happened when they got the attribution. Only the attribution - witty, sarcastic, ironic - turned them into an event. A spectacle of everyday life. A demonstration of the inner potential and the inner theatricality of everyday life.

And all these characters, “connoisseurs” of leisure, casualness, idleness, play and the ecology of dead time, strangers who have the subquality of an unknown Facebook "friend" (or an unrequited Tinder lover), can be imagined in the same photograph, the same shot, the same story and the same film, whose final twist is: everyone knows each other!

If Voranc's photographs were a puzzle or a whodunit, the advertising slogan would be: Everyone is connected, but only one is a murderer! Since 1966 - since Antonioni's Blow-Up - the photographer officially no longer knows what exactly he has photographed. Who knows, maybe he has photographed a corpse without knowing it.

No, the protagonists of Voranc's "human comedy" do not look like homo economicus, even less like homo politicus, rather like homo ludens, because they all seem to live together off surplus value, that magical surplus created by automated, robotised, digitised production (in the future we will all work only a few hours a week, we will enjoy our free time, life will be a game, etc.), the symbol of which is the QR code, which makes it possible to "react quickly", to enter quickly into the action, to move to the "other" side (where "everything is everywhere at once"), which therefore makes it possible to get anywhere at all, not to be left out and behind, not to miss anything, to overcome that agonising, ecstatic, feverish FOMO (fear of missing out), to be in the loop, constantly awake, tuned in, focused, up to date, interactive in an interpassive way (you can leave QR codes, to look at the photos for you), constantly in touch with the expectations of the neoliberal machine - and its counter-game, art, the art of the street snapshot, the art of the quick response, the photographic stand-up, in which Voranc, for his part, finds a new use for the word "pocestnice", which has lost its legitimacy, by transforming it into a genre term for the gaze of the flâneur, the Benjaminian, anti-tourist, semi-detective street observer of modern life.

And here lies the great irony: we, the viewers, the visitors, the strollers, want to be everywhere at once, we are in a hurry to go somewhere else (to another QR code, to another portal, to another tweet, etc.), but the protagonists of these photographs are in no hurry because they are enjoying themselves exactly where they are - because they are works of art. Except that they do not know it. Nobody is perfect. Not even the person being watched. Let alone the person who is watching.

But all these contradictions of Voranc's ethnography of funny post-truth times - and the cartography of the digitised unconscious, if we are talking about it - are outlined by Barthes's dictum from the preface to Mythologies: "What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth."


Marcel Štefančič, Jr.

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