Tadao Tsern‘s essay about creation of the project “Comfort Zone”. About the coast, solar bathtubs and an idle somnolence in a separation from the world around
While spending a weekend at the seaside, I’ve decided to visit a public beach that I haven’t seen since I was a little boy. There I saw a possibility to recite a lot of stories only from looking at the things that people bring with them. I’ve got so inspired that I had to quit what I was doing at the time and indulge into a new project. I came back the very next week with all my equipment needed for a photoshoot.
The biggest problem is that media dictates the standards what is beautiful and what is not – what is interesting and what is not. My idea behind this project was to show that no matter how you look – you have very interesting stories to tell.
I started this series because I was surprised how a certain place or surrounding can affect people’s behavior. During our everyday life we attempt to hide our deficiencies, both physical and psychological. However, once we find ourselves on a beach – we forget about everything and start acting in an absolutely different manner. Is that because everyone else around you is doing the same? If yes, I would love that the same rules were applied beyond the borders of the beach – people would care less about what others may think about them. I believe that this in turn would show how different, interesting and beautiful we truly are. The deeper you dig, the greater possibilities arise. And the more you think – the more you question and ponder.
These photos are not staged and people did not suspect that they were photographed by me. I chose to capture images of sleeping vacationers because it accurately represents the name of the project ‘Comfort Zone’. It is only about the seaside, sunbathing and holiday somnolence that is free from a world surrounding you. I chose to showcase only the photos with hidden faces not by an accident, but to grant an observer with an opportunity to calmly scrutinize each and every detail without being distracted. It also helps to avoid empathy or connection between people in the photos and the observers. It really does not matter who they are – the details not only reveal their stories, but make us face ourselves as well.
Regarding the style – my initial idea was to create very typological style – something that you would expect to find in some sort of science book about beach. I could call it pure documentary style at the same time – I tried to get rid of all unnecessary aesthetic elements. There’s a very good saying ‘It’s perfect not when there’s nothing more to add, but when there’s nothing more to take away’. So when it comes to ‘realism’ I could say that it was one of my goals – I wanted to create images that wouldn’t represent my artistic point of view – they had to represent only themselves.
My favorite piece is the one with the two ladies – it was my first shot and from the moment I saw it, I was convinced that I must finish this project no matter what. Even though the process was stressful and frustrating, today I can finally say that I am really happy with the end result that turned into a collection of 24 large scale prints. Images that can be seen on the internet is only a part of it and I hope that a chance will present itself for everyone to discover all of them during the exhibitions.
Did anyone got angry? Well actually to my own surprise I got the opposite response. You are not allowed to take pictures of children under 18 year old without their parents permission. I wanted to take a picture of a child on a silver blanket(picture is on my website) so I approached his parents, explained the situation, showed some pictures of the project and they really liked the idea so they gave a permission. I get many comments how wrong it looks for some people – but my usual response is asking “why isn’t wrong to see a naked African child in National Geographic magazine?” Oh those double standards.
Also I got a letter from a girl asking if these pictures are real… I said ‘yes’ and she told me that she found her father in one of them. Later she gave a print to him as a Christmas present which he really liked and hanged in his bedroom.
“Comfort Zone” series
© Bleek Magazine. Images and text: Tadao Cern.