Portfolio: Martin Kollar's images of Israel capture 'one of the most contentious geographical zones of modern history'


When Martin Kollar was invited, along with various award-winning photographers, to spend several months in Israel to capture "one of the most contentious geographical zones of modern history", the 41-year-old found the country reminded him of growing up in Zilina, Czechoslovakia (now the Slovak Republic).

"It was a time when the world was divided; there was the Iron Curtain; there was good and bad," he says. "And we were separated from the other side. Until the collapse of Communism, I couldn't travel and you often felt a bit trapped. Israel felt similar."

Kollar was stopped by the Israeli police a number of times and was often treated with great suspicion – a feeling of being under surveillance that he incorporates into his work. He was also fascinated by where the military land began and the civilian land ended. "The borders are very blurred. I didn't want to photograph conflict places where something had already happened, but the feeling that something eventually will."

Rather than explaining explicitly what each photograph is about, Kollar prefers that people make up their own story. "Some of the places I had the impression that I was on a film set, and I tried to bring this to the images. You don't really know when the reality and the fiction somehow stops and starts."

Although Kollar had visited Israel prior to the extended periods of time he spent there between November 2009 and January 2011, he was far from an expert, so he explored the land as if he were on a field trip, and his inquisitiveness permeates the images. "Israel is one of the most photographed places in the world; I wanted to think about how I could look at it in a fresh way. I hope I've managed to do that."

'Field Trip' by Martin Kollar is published by Mack Books, priced £35