Present Continuous V.
"Codes of Reality"
Photographers: Béla Dóka, Krisztina Erdei, Zsolt Fekete, Gábor Arion Kudász
Edited by: Gabriella Csizek
Language(s): hungarian, english
Published in: 2009
ISBN: 978 963 88529 0 8
Our series of exhibitions with catalogues, called Present Continuous aims to present the works of young Hungarian photographers without restrictions concerning genre or technique, interpreting a subject from a wide angle of views.
The first of the exhibition – housed by Museu de Imagem, Braga, Portugal, in May, 2005 – featured the works of Gabriella Csoszó, Katalin Elek Judit, Sarolta Szabó and Szilvi Tóth. The photographers introduced at this exhibition, titled “Restless glances” reflect to their personal experiences of life in different ways, sometimes unsettling, sometimes contemplative.
Present Continuous II was organized in the Platán Gallery of Institut Polski, Budapest, in spring, 2006, featuring the works of Enikő Hangay, Zsuzsanna Kemenesi, Tamás Nagy, Péter Puklus. The subject of the second exhibition - titled “Silent moments” – is, just like the first time, the personal space of the artists, and its definitive, private elements: family, social and human connections, their homes’ private landscapes, the objects and persons appearing in those lands. These correlations are shown according to their own artistic styles.
Present Continuous III was housed by the upstairs rooms of Budapest Gallery in the end of September, 2007, featuring the works of Tamás Hossala, Mónika Merva, Dániel Kovalovszky and Lilla Szász. The exhibition titled “Living together” presents the lives of communities consisting of people joined by their similar circumstances of life. The reason for their living together is their age, social state, or their place in society, or the lack of it. They live in some kind of institutes not as a consequence of their own choice, but only by chance, as a consequence of imperatives supposed to be unavoidable. Their everyday lives and their almost identical aspirations are defined by their common fate, stemming in their similar conditions of life. They live in a world, where the freedom of choice is not a valid alternative.
Our recent volume contains a selection from the series of Szabolcs Barakonyi, Tamás Dezső, András Fekete and Zoltán Molnár. The selection subtitled “Visible stories” is taken from the works of four young authors, whose works are based on the documentarist tradition, or rather the rethinking of it. They all started out as explorers, setting out toward the unknown, and finding their subject and the object of their questions on the way. They became frequent visitors in a different world, where the alien became familiar through recognition, enriching the artists themselves, and - through their pictures – us, spectators. They measured themselves to the other while encountering the unknown, and decide to share their experiences underlining their proximity to the subject, acknowledging their being affected or even touched.
Our latest series are organized into a volume titled „Reality codes”. The grouping of the works of our current four artists – Béla Dóka, Krisztina Erdei, Zsolt Fekete, Arion Kudász Gábor - may seem to be striking at first. However, if we submerge in the worlds enclosed behind these images, we discover a potential for presenting disguised as simplicity, and a capability to compress meaning and draw lines of connections between them. We see personal documents about the reality they experience, the way the filter of their emotions, thoughts and souls let them percept it. Béla Dóka shows his and his family’s peaceful existence in nature, Krisztina Erdei presents a real world revealing the unreal. Zsolt Fekete made portraits and landscapes of a clean world, Arion Kudász Gábor enlists the traces of humanity in nature – not even existing in its traditional sense anymore.
The unknown estate of Béla Dóka could be any of ours, if we were capable of enjoying the beauty of the moment, enjoying play even as adults, if we could lose ourselves in nature. He still can. Moreover he can turn it into photos to share the joy of life with his audience. The hardly expressible emotion, that keeps one going, that smoothes out the wrinkles of concern, something close to harmony. His lands are not only backdrops to the silhouette of his woman, but his family appears as integral part of nature. Everything and everybody belongs to the great fullness that would not be full without any of them.
Krisztina Erdei expresses his opinion about her environment – including us – in an explicit way by connecting things seemingly unconnected. She shares the essence of her experience in a sourly ironic, witty manner, full of characteristic emotional and intellectual content. Though we are familiar with our human and material surroundings, the strangeness and finiteness these pictures show can make an intense impression. However familiar these situations, faces, characters and everyday objects may get, we learn more about our surroundings seen through her artistic eye.
The landscapes and portraits of Zsolt Fekete introduce a world were the white is white and the black is what it is. Black. Everything is on its place, the eyes are bright, the sky touches the ground, the mountains reach up to the clouds, and time whistles the tune of transience. Not their subject, not their theme, but the manner of representation hides the key to the unfathomable. Instants and events becoming images through duplication become shareable and reanimable by the power of our sights. A face, a glance, a word on the blackboard, a flower, or the cracking ice becomes the moving force behind fate and history according to the rules of the Butterfly-effect.
Arion Kudász Gábor shows us our lost natural spaces, the landscapes rewritten by humanity following the rules of classic image-making. His landscapes are vast still-lives on the verge of populated land and deserted areas, with all the material belongings that may well be seen as the negative effect of humanity on nature. The absurdity of his pictures stems from the subject and the manner of representation. Bridges and roundabouts, construction sites and billboards sit in the landscape so organically, it almost hurts. But certainly it forces us to reconsider our notions of beauty and natural.
We hope that our series of catalogues shall help contemporary young Hungarian photographers catch the attention of national and international audience interested in photography.
Codes of Reality
Considering its dictionary definition, the title of the exhibition could be interpreted as a specific code of reality. Interestingly, some languages do have this verb tense, and others do not. If we accept the theory that language determines thinking (in whatever complex or complicated ways), then we equally start wondering about the implications of the lack of this tense in Hungarian. Fortunately, there are fields where this lack can be filled, and we, Hungarians can join the flow. In fact, the title of the exhibition already indicates that there might be things, phenomena and strategies that are valid in the now-yesterday-tomorrow, in a larger context and space-time. That these things EXIST. And indeed, whenever you glance at a photo, it is here, in the present tense. This is not a world-saving idea, yet, all the more exhilarating.
I have a strong temptation to investigate further the words in the title, since the question of reality is highly problematic. Sometimes, the problem is literal: the large magic globe, through which we all used to look at reality, broke into pieces not so long ago, and what we have now are numberless tiny fragments reflecting numberless separate pictures. Of course, the large magic globe might have never existed, but its absence never posed a problem, or at least not the way it does now.
The term “code”, if we forget about secret agent movies and start to think about photography, also brings to mind the virtual world. From one aspect, the binary system is the most basic world-coding system of our times. From the other, another aspect, these are the photos floating around in the virtual world that make up our universe. We code and decode by a glance, by the fixing of a glance, by uploads and downloads, by visions and revisions. Interestingly, we are constantly wrapping and unwrapping the world for each other. According to certain theories, our organs of perception transport the different stimuli in so many subjective ways to our brains, hearts and souls, that mutual understanding is simply a miracle. Of course, there is no need to panic. I cannot be bothered by the fact that although I perceive the other’s eyes as blue, he says that they are green. It does not detain us from living next to each other, or even better: with each other.
The photographers of “Codes of Reality” also agree upon this point. Kriszta Erdei’s, Béla Dóka’s, Zsolt Fekete’s and Gábor Arion Kudász’s gaze, interpreting, observing and mapping reality, all share the intention of juxtaposing things, as well as a susceptibility for the absurd.
Of course, these are realised in different ways. When I look at Kriszta Erdei’s pictures, my first impression is that there are no such sights. Strange constellations give shape to things not-so-pleasant-to look-at, which are still somehow beautiful; yet, not the objects represented, but the representation, the picture itself constitutes the thing of beauty. Sometimes the photos reveal the magical dimension of objects, which cannot be seen and grasped by anyone but her. Erdei’s photos are often gloomy or tense: the pictures transport us to the “periphery” of the gaze, and her subjects equally mirror this gesture. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes you have to make a huge effort to understand the puzzle before your eyes. But I can assure you that it is worth it.
Béla Dóka’s photo journal about the leisure time of his own family presents a nice juncture of things largely disjoint: “Nude on a Poppy Field”, evoking the classical tradition of painting, as well as the pre-arranged “Let’s pretend that your head is a plate” or the snapshots of “The Way Dad Ate his Lunch”. We can interpret the pictures as how-to guides on holydays, exhibiting some personal touch. And there also emerges a strange phenomenon: the pictures generate nostalgia for certain moods and life situations. Nostalgia lights up in us, or, to put it differently, as if there was some constant light in our life that we had to disregard to be able to live in the continuous and changing present, which is our lot. Only seldom do we abandon ourselves, without questions and cares, to this flow. To these simple and self-explanatory images of our memories.
The selection of Zsolt Fekete’s photos is just as eclectic as the artist’s photo blog where the images become visible. They give, therefore, just as much sense of unity as they do in the blog: each picture tells his story --- what happened to him, what he wrote about himself, about others, about life. Interestingly, the two stories are sometimes the same. He tells us how a dingy corner can become a composition, and that, sometimes, one person transforms into two, either because time has stopped or repeated itself, or only because the two people are dressed the same. He lets us know that despite their overtones of kitsch, poppies blooming in the green field are beautiful, and can even appear as the only meaningful things on earth.
Gábor Arion Kudász takes a whole different dimension of the absurd: his pictures are illustrations of something absurd, of a split, a tear on the desired texture of reality. His clear, balanced photos present borderline situations: places where the natural-like artificial and the artificial-like natural converge. Or diverge. Man – the prime cause of this specific problem and of all of its consequences – is only a tiny, insignificant figurine in most pictures. Man, this strange mixture of the natural and the artificial, embodies both: he exists on this borderline. And when he is embodied precisely as a photographer, then he can draw our attention to the fact that we do not even know the direction of what we see: is it decaying or just in the process of becoming? Absurdly, the two are sometimes the same.
Hungarian House of Photography in Mai Manó House
H-1065 Budapest-Terézváros, Nagymező utca 20.