Karcolt legendák / Scratched Legends
From Dogma to Experiment
The trouble with Estonian photography is that you may think yuo know a couple of things about it, you have heard people talking about it, sometimes something is written about it, there is even a museum of photography, but when you delve deeper into the subject, you notice how scattered, fragmentary and inconsistene the material is.
Such is the state of affairs, which explains, and to some extent, makes excuses for the uneven character of the present exhibition: the documentation has been haphazard, it has been scattered among many places, many photos have been lost or become ruined because of negligent preservation. A large number of photos, displayed at this exhibition, were found in a cupboard, where they had been stored. When everybody talked about the enthusiasm for photography in the 1990s, then it resulted more from photos having been incorporated into different kinds of installations, quite often using old album photos, or even „stolen” photos, where photography as a specific technique was important for its special representative meaning. Such an essential charge was overwhelmingly prevalent in the 1990s. Carried away by this notion, photos were very rarely exhibited simply as photos. The aim of a photographer was to realise his idea, not simply to take a photo. In this sense we cannot so much talk about photographers, but rather, about artists who used photography. But even of these works, sometimes only fragments remain that have no meaning outside the context of the exhibition. That is why this exhibition proceeds from author to author, without differentiating between trends and tendencies, and it consists of separate interesting finds (in its literal meaning). We can point out decades: the technical experimentation of the 1960s; the „critical moments” striving for symbolist depth of the 1970s; the loourised worlds of the mid-1980s; the conceptual approach of the 1990s. Artists were related more by their common interest in photography, and maybe by manifestos (presented by different generations), than by sharply outlined schools.
Thus Estonian photography is also characterised by the loss of memory – in most cases, people do not know what was done in Estonia before their time. We can also find, examining this scattered and relatively little studied material that it relates to the developments in other parts of the world only occasionally and fragmentarily.
Hungarian House of Photography in Mai Manó House
H-1065 Budapest-Terézváros, Nagymező utca 20.