Milos Duma

lambda prints, h: 20 x w: 30 in

on the photography of Milos Duma


By John Silvis

In contrast to the insatiable appetite for information, Milos Duma’s vignettes offer the viewer a tightly framed view of random urban nightscapes. Although formally complex, his seemingly casually composed flash lit photographs depict apocalyptic public spaces that are devoid of human activity. Positioning himself in the tradition of Straight photography, the newest Sleepwalk portfolio employs the camera as a matter-of-fact tool to record poignant moments as he moves through urban centers such as Vienna, Belgrade or New York City, enticing the viewer to extract meaning from collective symbols and backdrops.

Subway entrances and stacks of street cafe furniture are treated with a consistently analytical eye, as are snapshots of public parks and street signs. Fences and building entrance doors are also a reoccurring motif in this grouping of Milos’ unaltered digital photographs, spanning from the early Art Nouveau era to contemporary steel gates enclosing the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In one gripping depiction, a carved stone statue of a mythological figure intertwined with a rearing horse, is deliberately cropped to remove both of their heads and renders an unsettling postmodern vision of heroism. Another image of municipal bicycles parked in neat rows along a public square exudes a natural sense of composition, while his attention to detail allows the purple and yellow decal graphics to engage one another.

Although clearly suggestive of human activity, Milos’ images of nighttime spaces and urban signage are documented without figures, proposing a possible disconnect experienced in fragmented urban environments. The interchangeability of locale seems to underscore an arbitrary passage through time and space, and undermine a potential desire for meaning. Similar to the haphazard quality of manmade milieus, his photographs embody the incongruities of a purposeful formal investigation versus the frantic visions of an insomniac mind, reflecting the complexity of our contemporary psyches.