In his project “Life in Blue”, the photographer Evzen Sobek has devoted himself to a typically Czech leisure activity, caravanning. A certain group of people has been enjoying this activity for decades on the shores of the Nové Mlýny reservoirs.
A number of the photos evoke the minimalist pictures of the New Topography. With time, however, we realize that the photographer has presented us with an interesting social phenomenon – a view of the special leisure activity of people who have decided to create second homes in bizarre architectural artifacts in man-made places in the great outdoors.
The community of “former” caravanners photographed here, have for reasons unknown to us given up their freedom of movement, wandering, the nomadic life (which was, after all, the original aim of the travel trailers and mobile homes), and have settled down in their chosen locality in south Moravia.
Who, then, are the owners of these dwellings, who for their buildings use recycled material similar to those used by the inhabitants of the slums of Latin America and Africa or the ghettos? What motivated these people to build this kind of house in an environment whose charm vanishes (except for the ever-changing water levels) after a few stays, and most probably will become as uninspiring as any colony of allotment gardens?
A precise answer can probably only be provided by the diehard anglers. But what leads other members of the community (wives, children, other relations and acquaintances) to a voluntary weekend or summer stay in this milieu? Is it out of a need, or a duty to follow the family, or some kindred spirit, or out of the joy that a visit may provide? Is it from a desire to meditate in the great outdoors?
Other questions arise when observing the urban plan of this place. What is the attraction for the inhabitants of this caravan ghetto? Is it the need to continue informal contacts in a romantic environment? Perhaps here, unlike in a town or city, the longing for community life is fulfilled. Or does a grounded caravan simply offer space to put the legendary Czech DIY dexterity into practice?
The answers to these questions might be provided by the caravanner-settlers. But our intuition tells us that most likely they themselves do not know why they are there.
Vault dweller Michael Jones is the first person to exit Vault 101 since the Lone Wanderer, nearly half a decade after the Vault Kid accomplished Project Purtiy. Once in the Capital Wasteland, he follows a broadcast operated by two slightly-odd radio hosts, Jack and Geoff, which leads him to a faction only known as Rooster Teeth. Led by former New Vegas mobster Burnie Burns, he quickly joins the group of ragtag individuals just trying to survive the apocalypse. Sent to scavenge the wastes and recruit a few friends, he meets Ray, a caravanner who grew up in the town of Oasis, Ryan, an ex-raider with a pet brahmin, and Gavin- an out-of-place British mechanic who has a fondness for explosives and Pip-Boys.
Since 2007, photographer Evžen Sobek has been documenting life on the banks of the Nové Mlýny reservoirs in the southern region of the Czech Republic. In this strange, man-made, recreational setting, an unorthodox community of tents and campers has grown over the years—a place where citizens vacation annually decade after decade. Sobek’s subjects were formerly nomadic caravanners—travelers who vacationed in their campers—who now have forfeited their freedom and liberty of movement to settle down in their once-mobile homes in Southern Moravia. Sobek’s eye is for the unusual and occasionally disquieting. Many of the photographs feel as though they picture mysteriously enigmatic and bizarre rites or ceremonies—the deeper meaning of which the viewer is wholly unaware.
Evžen Sobek was born in the city of Brno in 1967. Sobek attended the University of Technology in Brno and trained as a technical draughtsman before transferring to the Institute of Creative Photography of Silesian University at Opava. Currently working as a freelance photographer and a photography instructor, the focus of Sobek’s work has been documentary imagery. He garnered early acclaim for his series depicting the life of Premonstratensian monks in Zeliv (a village in the Czech Republic), and another focusing on the day-to-day life of Roma (also called Gypsies) living in his hometown.
“Life in Blue” was awarded an Honorable Mention by the 2010 Lens Culture International Exposure Awards. Sobek’s work is represented in numerous private and public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the School of Visual Arts, Osaka; and the Museum of Applied Arts, Prague. He is founder of the Brno Photography School and the Fotoframe competition.