Sunday, March 8, 2020

Ágnes Eperjesi, Viewer - Image, b/w photographs, Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, Budapest, 2019

This piece by Ágnes Eperjesi was one of a number of works in a powerful show at the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography gallery in Budapest titled "Euforia?: Stories of a System Change From Hungary," (Dec. 17, 2019 - Feb., 23, 2020). The exhibit featured works that responded to the new environment that was created after the 'fall of the wall,' and it's a fascinating array of different ways that people experienced it.

Under the Socialist regime in Hungary, both men's pornographic and erotic magazines were banned. The artists' father often made trips to the West where he purchased erotic magazines, which his daughter inevitably found in his hiding places. Of their production and circulation the artist writes:

"My father carefully locked away his collection from prying eyes, but others straight out made reproductions of them typically in a DIY artisanal manner, and that is how these pictures entered and then circulated in the secondary market. The images were photographed individually, and then scaled down in at-home labs, and eventually glued one after the other in a folded leaflet-like fashion. The images, reduced to the size of a cigarette box, fit in a back pocket or a wallet. Their distribution, just like that of the pornographic photos back in the first decades of the 1900s, took place informally through personal channels."

Despite the sign at the beginning of the exhibition stating that no photographs were permitted, i couldn't help making snaps of this really interesting work, and in particular the way the works were displayed so that only interested people were able to the see the true contents of these 'works.'

Of the pieces in the display case the artist states that the case "contains two homemade calendar cards with photo-montage kiosk pictures that were legally trafficked back in the day, as well as three reproductions of western pornographic magazines made with photographic techniques and informally distributed around 1970."(1)

1. Artists' quotes taken from artists' statement accompanying the work.

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