Women in 3 Acts
Paz Errázuriz, Gluklya & Tsaplya / Factory of Found Clothes, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Ditte Lyngkaer Pedersen, Maya Schweizer, Lilla Szász
INDA Gallery, Budapest
6.9. - 26.10.2018, opening on: 5.9.2018
curated by Kati Simon
One night Lilla Szász dreamt of having a camera. Never before had she even touched a camera. Soon afterwards, her father put an old professional camera on her desk. From that moment on, photography became her means of exploring and expressing the complexity of human relationships. In a world shaped by globalisation and migration and still largely dominated by men, where the struggle for power and influence increasingly exposes socially marginalized communities to become subject to discrimination, Lilla Szász engages with marginal groups of people living in closed, specific communities and focuses on stories of human vulnerability, addressing issues of belonging, gender and identity. She searches for stories that are very personal and universal, at the same time reveal the socio-political contradictions in contemporary society. Referring to Lilla Szász’ profound inspiration from literature and film, and featuring works by artists from different genres, the three acts of the exhibition endeavour to create a dialogue between sensitive observers of intimate life stories. These fictional conversations bring different approaches and narrative modes into correspondence and prompt female views and social interest to reverberate in larger international contexts.
Act 1 “I looked at the empty suitcase. On the bottom was Karl Marx. On the lid was Brodsky. And between them, my lost, precious, only life.” (Sergei Dovlatov: The Suitcase)
In the first act Lilla Szász departs on a long journey in search for very personal, human stories of different realities. Inspired by her studies of Russian language and literature, she travels first to Saint Petersburg to direct her gaze at Sunbathers (1998), a peculiar group of local people who spend their days outside by the water, at the wall of Peter-Paul Fortress. Here, a group of naval academy cadets march in Gluklya’s The Triumph of Fragility (2002), carrying delicate white dresses in front of them, as if they were something fragile, something that “constitutes the essence of life itself”. The young marines fulfil their task with sincere commitment and love. With genuine dedication and commitment, the Russian Jewish Veterans now living in Brighton Beach, whose lives Lilla Szász documented in Comrades (2010), once served their country. The photographers’ gaze settles on the vulnerability of these people, who are still looking for a place in society, wishing to belong somewhere. Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, the veterans who once fought on enemy sides during the World War 2 live almost unforgotten and marginalized in today Latvia. Anastasia Khoroshilova’s photo essay project Die Übrigen (2015) combine personal with social narratives.
Act 2 “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina)
Between 1982 and 1987, Paz Errázuriz devoted much of her time to hanging around a group of men who cross-dressed and prostituted themselves in various brothels in Santiago and Talca. The images were published in the photo book Adam’s Apple, a collection of black-and-white photos, texts and
interviews with members of a large unorthodox family that broke the mould and was decimated by AIDS, economic uncertainty and police persecution. For many people living most of their lives in an orphanage the path lead straight to prostitution. Lilla Szász became good friends with three prostitutes who lived in a very complicated relationship in a small apartment in Budapest. This was the setting for Mother Michael Goes To Heaven (2008-2010), the place where they received their clients, where the two boys of this unusual family met, and where Michael committed suicide. In another Budapest apartment lives Mendi (2013), a former porn star, in a complex relationship with her mother and her sister’s son, an autistic boy, whom she loves as if he were her own child. For this series, Lilla Szász found great inspiration in Grey Gardens. This 1976 documentary by Albert and David Maysles is an intimate portrait of a mother and a daughter, Big and Little Edie Beale, aunt and first cousin of Jackie Onassis. The two of them live in a world of their own and manage to get on with each other amid the decay and disorder of their 28-room East Hampton mansion.
Act 3 “…buzzing and crackling in my ears, the rhythm of the waltz goes tamtamtamtata…” (György Dragomán: Waltz)
Maya Schweizer’s grandmother answers the question whether she has friends in the retirement home, in a sometimes very lucid and sometimes very dreamy manner in her monologue about how she feels in her new home. The video Manou, La Seyne sur Mer, 2011 (2012) shows a fragmentary reconstruction of a train of thoughts which does not lead to a conclusion. Manou lives in a retirement home for old Jewish women, just like the women in Lilla Szász’ Golden Age (2004). Szász focussed on finding out how they create a new home instead of the old one and how they live in it with their memories and souvenirs, where every object has its own story, and every photo on the wall contains an entire life. An old photograph found in the album of an 80 year-old woman in Tokyo was the starting point for Ditte Lyngkaer Pedersen’s Laughter (2014). The project investigates the unrevealed story of the picture. During the years of an exchange of letters with Yoshiko Okuzawa, the artist re-enacted the photo with different groups she belongs to around the world. When Lilla Szász entered the apartment of the late Mrs. Brown, she began an extraordinary, intimate correspondence and communication with the deceased old woman. Images of the objects and words of their diaries are how they got to know each other better and how this special dialogue between them helped the artist to start a new life and a Happy New Year (2013-2014).