Present Continuous: Contemporary Photography from Hungary
Curator: Gabriella Csizek
Location: Gallery of Contemporary Art / Centre for Contemporary Arts Celje, Slovenia
Open: 11 November – 05 December 2010
PHOTONIC MOMENTS - Month of Photography 2010 - Ljubljana
“Centuries of centuries, and only in the present do things happen; countless men in the air, on the earth and the sea, and everything that is happening is happening to me…”
/Jorge Luis Borges: The Garden of Forking Paths/
The young artists selected for the series – started in 2005 and continuously expanding since then – represent every type of photography – from autonom photographers to documentarists, photographers working with photo-essays as well as photo-reporters. The diversity and uniqueness of their works reflect the questions of the present.
The series, which were born parallel at the same time, start to react with each other when they are displayed at the exhibitions or shown in the catalogues. The magnet, which keeps them together, can be either a photographic attitude, or a similar feeling of responsibility towards a social situation.The theory behind these exhibitions is to give a reflection to a given question from many points of views, as it was reflected in the series of the individual artists following their own styles. The continuously expanding exhibition material, the yearly increasing numbers of artists together with the thematic provide a more and more comprehensive picture of the Hungarian contemporary trends and the forming photographic careers, and giving the first opportunity to be exhibited for some of the artists.
The present comprehensive show presents the many years‘ works and gives place for series of 16 young artists.
The photos organised around a theme in the catalogues as well as at the exhibition react with each other in the exhibition hall and thus provide further ways of their understanding.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS I.
Gabriella Csoszó PREFACES
Judit Katalin Elek UP AND DOWN
Sarolta Szabó EXPERIMENTAL HOUSING ESTATE, 2003
Szilvi Tóth STRANGERS
PRESENT CONTINUOUS II.
Enikő Hangay Quiet Days
Zsuzsanna Kemenesi Sweet as Cherry, Fine like Wine
Tamás Nagy Save before closing
Péter Puklus Intimacy - No Title
PRESENT CONTINUOUS III.
Tamás Hossala Supervision
Dániel Kovalovszky Homes for the elderly
Monika Merva City of Children
Lilla Szász Moonflower
PRESENT CONTINUOUS IV.
Szabolcs Barakonyi Children of the Spoil-bank
Tamás Dezső Romania – On Europe’s Eastern Edge
András Fekete Russia, 2003-2008
Zoltán Molnár Roma Portrais – Transylvania 2002-2005
ANXIOUS LOOKS - PRESENT CONTINUOUS I.
Gabriella Csoszó has been making photographs of her four adopted brothers for long years. His portraits show episodes from the universal story of growing up, grasped with a fine, sensual hand. Recurring gestures and mimics on different models make them similar and different at the same time. With her audience, she shares secrets generated by the passing of time.
The photographical journal of Judit Katalin Elek, belongs to the category of self-examining and self-revealing photography. Her personality is the magnet that draws all these landscapes, people, meetings and atmospheres into one pictorial story. The mosaic put together from the personal aspects of her life, includes her experiences from deep down as well as from high up. Her pictures are close to everyday life in composition and in subject matter, her artistic attitude gains expression in the installation of the chosen series of photographs.
Sarolta Szabó examines the place she lives at – which happens to be a housing project. In her pictures, she is looking for the answers to basic questions: how does the world distort if only ever seen from the window of an eighth-storey flat; what kind of personal spaces exist behind the countless uniform windows; why are people living in the same house alien to each other; how do simple machines hide in buildings and in playgrounds. It is an investigation, with which she distances herself from his private experiences, interpreting the setting of her life from the viewpoint of a stranger.
In her series, Szilvi Tóth shows us interesting people, who are however mostly unknown to us. These people have somehow raised her interest, and the photograph is their own stories’ beginning and product. Wherever she roams the cities of Europe, apart from the local colors, she always finds and shows the same things as the life signs of her own generation. These cities include the same subcultures, regardless of national borders.
SILENT MOMENTS - PRESENT CONTINUOUS II.
Enikő Hangay finds picturesque scenes in our chaotic everyday lives, with hidden interrelationships of shapes and colours she shows us the presence of nature in our lives everywhere and eternally. Sunshine beaming in, greenness of peas, crumbs falling into the snow are as natural parts of her life as Coke for others. Her reality worth of love becames familiar to us while observing her, her family, friends and personal life on her photos. And the hidden constellations, things seeming chaotic settle harmonically to her. (And for us?)
The origin of Zsuzsanna Kemenesi’s series “Sweet like cherry, fine like wine” is a self-portrait, which collects five generations within different realisations of presence in one picture. The real personalities and people who are indirectly present - using the object inherited from her mother’s family side, which represents a part of the history of the family – supplementing each other show continuity between past, present and future. Every knowledge, imagination, memory becomes represented, which from our internal reality and are crucial in understanding of external reality. The physical space becomes symbolical, the child game turns into reality, and Saturday afternoon is part of a fairy tale.
Tamás Nagy takes photos with greatest care, patience and discipline of places, objects and people situated in his neighbourhood in photos coloured with tea. With his observations he always highlights things, sets borders and at the same time opens gates to internal attention, meditation. Either he takes a photo of his daughter, or simply of details of objects, he shares the miracle of another time and joy of wandering among details.
Péter Puklus takes photos of people of his private life: his friends, relatives. Photos taken in homes of his models not only uncover their originality, but also show objects surrounding the models’everyday lives. He rather finds than organises, he doesn’t make up but takes situations from normal lives as granted, he very rarely amends his photos, if so, these amendments can be hardly recognised. Situations, people presented this way are not beautiful or ugly, not unusual or strange, their biggest feature is their genuineness and showing people’s uniqueness and humanity. He also takes portraits of tiny details of rooms, corners of their flat, objects left in the kitchen, even if the china kept on the shelf and bathing in the sunshine. This method helps him improve and enrich his visual description of members of his real and chosen family. He defines himself among them and by them.
LIVING TOGETHER - PRESENT CONTINUOUS III.
Tamás Hossala introduces us to his own workplace. He presents us situations, portraits, objects and interiors of the home for orphans he works at. He observes the contingency of the tools and processes of photographing, to preserve the totality and uniqueness of the given moment. We can see some of the chosen moments paired up with another one. By pairing these images made in different times, and different places, he managed to create a new reality only valid in this new context.
Daniel Kovalovszky attempts to tell, how old people live in their houses for the elderly. The conditions of coexistence for different generations have changed, the traditional family model disintegrated, shutting experienced old people out of the circle of everyday life, making them the inhabitants of a special institute, enhancing their isolation. What can still make them happy? Can they find their places in the monotony of everyday life, can they pass on their knowledge, can they express their emotions? While we read the answers on their wrinkled faces, we become part of their slow and painful passing.
Mónika Merva introduces the dwellers of the children’s town, through her lyrical portraits. Her pictures taken indoors or outdoors, from close up or faraway, always take us to the heart of personalities, as she sees them. She is making a family photo-album of a family bound together not by blood, but by the acceptance of a common fate, and attention, openness to each other. We can catch a glimpse of an unknown world, strange fates closed into the depths of their eyes through the gestures recorded by her sensually beautiful photographs.
Lilla Szász in her series presenting female lives constantly reflects on people whose future is fundamentally determined by their social situation. Her choice of subject is already a provocation of the indifference of society, the lack of courage to face the problem. Her photographs are always the parts of a commons story, begun well before the exposition, not ending in the photograph. Enlarged photographs are shown to its subjects, making way for further conversation, and the further forming of the photograph by dialogue. Her photographs do not only talk about those on the picture, but always relate the connection between the subjects, and its emotional contents.
Visible stories - PRESENT CONTINUOUS IV.
Szabolcs Barakonyi records the everyday life of a generation about to be lost with a sensitive eye and real care in his Tébánya-series. Those children born in the years around the regime-change are becoming young adults now. These pictures are about them and for them. What kind of destination, what kind of future, what kind of assignment can they find for their life amidst the scenery of a largely bygone age, that is still strong in its effects. The author became part of their lives, stepping over the role of the photographer who comes from outside and stays alien. This way, in his portraits, he could present personalities, peoples’ souls, and in his city-scapes, he could record all, that has been forgotten and left out there on the streets, bereft of meaning, to become an everyday sight for those living among them, to define their surroundings.
Tamás Dezső’s photographs made in Rumania present the country and its inhabitants in a painterly style, in painterly compositions. His subject matter consists of people living with obedience to the most basic human rules, and obeying these rules, they live in unbelievable poverty. He presents fate, determining past, a present very difficult to live, and a future that may be predictable condensed into one composition. Behind every photo, there is a story looming and unfolding, be it a pair-portrait or a funeral. He invented his own style - apparently consistent and carefully crafted, still informal and natural - following the tradition of the classic masters of photography and painting. His pictures are classically perfect, every detail has its meaning. His works produced with sensitivity and respect offer spectators a chance to experience the totality of reception.
András Fekete shows us his “motherland”, its great cities, and their thousand faces, people interacting with the landscape, and a closed world seen in the mirror of an unusual community. Landscapes presenting cities and the country are complemented by portraits and snapshots of the inhabitants of a juvenile prison. Sometimes by his proximity, sometimes by his closeness, but he always manages to express the tragically absurd ways that characterize the everyday lives of Russian and Ukrainian people. The reality of these black-and-white and colour photographs line out the basic rules of a little-known world, shows us the relations between its inhabitants, and their material surroundings. András Fekete has taken portraits, landscapes and still lives in Russia and Ukraine in the last few years, and these pictures in their wide thematic and technical variety offer a complex experience, that makes this distant world intelligible.
Zoltán Molnár has taken his Transylvanian gypsy portraits from the position of the photographer coming form the outside world but becoming accepted, finding a place and a role in the community. The borders between photographer and photographed dissolve in this deeply emphatic presentation of these people. With the force of their simplicity and minimalism these pictures state simple positive truths about these people and their universe. Zoltán Molnár’s way of making images is determined by his basic characteristics: his openness, a capacity for intensive attention toward the other, his tactfulness and respect for other people.
Gabriella Csizek, curator
Hungarian House of Photography in Mai Manó House
H-1065 Budapest-Terézváros, Nagymező utca 20.