Faces of Century

   Photos and texts: © Jan Langer

  • Population gets older. At the same time the average length of life gets longer. In fifty years the number of people who are one hundred years old and live in Czech republic will reach 14,000. Nowadays, there are over 800. How one can perceive their life at the moment of its close end?

    The majority of those that I approached agree that with advancing age life is faster; until, at last, the life will pass in a moment. Time is shrinking, as are the faces of the elders. Does our perception of time change by how quickly or consciously we pass through it?

    What changes and what remains on a human face and in a human mind in such a long time, and in such a short while in relative terms? What values and memories do hold on?

    This set of comparative photos (of archive portraits from family albums and contemporary portraits from the present time) explores the similarities and the differences in appearance and in physiognomy. At the same time, they also try to ask deeper questions about the passage of time, the process of transforming an individual personality, and perceiving life and near death. The characteristics of personality change throughout life but it seems as if individual nature remains rooted in the abyss of time. Combining the transformed, and yet very similar, image of the same individual at the top and end of his life with some facts about his intimate world, has allowed me to explore not only several concrete destinies of the twentieth century but also general questions about the meaning and values of human life and about my own pilgrimage.

    The pair of portraits are complemented by brief facts from the physical and psychic world of portrayed people.