Photographer Martin Klimas freezes split-second moments in time. Through his compelling series, titled Porcelain Figurines, he captures the exact point at which sculptures of warriors, dragons, and other symbolic figures hit the ground and shatter into countless fragments. But despite their demise, Klimas has photographed them in an ideal state; they are in the midst of becoming pulverized, but they are still in large enough pieces that we can understand what they were before they ultimately meet their fate.
The Porcelain Figurines project is the culmination of Klimas’ fascination with high-speed photography and the visual complexity that results in the breaking of glass and clay. “I began with simple things like wine bottles and coffee cans,” Klimas tells My Modern Met, “and in 2002 I started with this series and was constantly evolving over the years.”
It took the photographer hundreds of dolls, bought from flea markets and eBay, to find figurines that worked the best for his series. Eventually, he discovered that he didn’t have to look far. “ I found the Kung-Fu Figurines at a Chinese Supermarket around the corner. It gives the work a really good turn and I let them fall in pairs to get the intention of a fight between them.”
Aside from the striking visuals that Klimas produces, the broken figurines symbolize time made visible. He is “obsessed” with this notion because it encapsulates the idea into a single image. “To catch something out of the flow of time, to find the perfect moment” he explains, “is what photographers are forever looking for.”