Ikland is a small village near Targu Mures, in Transylvania. After the regime change in 1989 my grandfather’s old property was given back to my mother. During the communism a collectivist farm was established on the old ground-plot and a large stable was built up on it. My parents use this field for gardening on the week-ends.Click here to Read More
Last Sunday we went out again into the garden together with my parents and my sister’s family, and as usually I was taking pictures instead of working in the garden. I didn’t posture anybody anywhere, the autumn sun was shining languidly, I kept myself back and tried to work out the imaging of the scenery: a colourful autumn garden, with rambling people in it. My father picked rose-hips, I was standing behind him when he suddenly pierced the hollow of his hand and his purple blood bubbled over.
I caught the snapshot and then I took pictures around the whole environment, meanwhile somebody placed a fistful of rose-hips on the well-curb. I have also observed the chicory blooming in our garden too. Last time I saw this blue flower blooming on the football-ground of the village and then I couldn’t take a good photo of it. So I went down again. Zolika appeared, he was angry with me, because I didn’t bring any picture for him, I explained in vain to him that the last photos were a failure, he didn’t want to posture for a new shot. Then he became preoccupied with playing with his ball and I started to take pictures and I asked him to make some stretchings on the gate-post. At home, after I have put together these shots, I observed that they were taken from the same position as the photo of Csaba, 15 years ago.
In the ‘90s I was deeply influenced by Josef Koudelka, I took documentary pictures at Ikland and its surroundings ad libitum. This was the time when the picture „My cousin Matyi with Biri, 1999” was taken.
In spring 1999 I have repeated my grandmother’s 61 year old gesture and I took my mother in my lap in the same place where my grandma did in 1938. I began to become seriously concerned with the conception of repetition and intervention into the actions beginning with 2004, when the collectivist stable shattered, and I repeated the picture of my cousin Matyi and our dog Biri in 1999, from the same position on a 13×18 sheet film. I try to understand the antinomic relationship between causality and probability (see the philosophical supplement).
I started to take pictures more attentively, with a more exigent technique. I put together my digital pictures from several shots, taken with a large focal distance lens, in this way the viewing angle and the resolution grows, just like in the case of the old, large-calibre cameras. This method resembles painting, being a longer process in time than traditional photography. The very high pixel number of the image assures an abundance of details and high chromatic saturation, as painters say, a textured and pastose quality of the photos, and the visual impression created in such a way increases the extraordinary experience of space growing out of the emphatic relationship between the human figure and its surroundings.
In such a space even the portrayal can appear more genuine, and the persons become life-sized, mainly because we can blow up the photos without any deterioration of their quality, due to their high resolution. I paid more attention to what was happening, and with my pictures I snatched different parts from the story. So when I take pictures I inevitably connect myself to stories, and I have I influence them. The story of Ikland is of course more personal. I invoke a thought from Wim Wenders’ film, The State of Things: “Stories exist only in stories, life is a single story and it is about death.” Stories are closed by the author, generally with the following words: “they have been living until they died”, in a better case “they lived happily”.
My parents are old, the characters of the “7 trees” are extremely vulnerable, they could die soon, I would like to close both stories while they are among us.
I wouldn’t say that my stories are magic. I could even stage the coincidences, because, for the final result, the picture itself, it doesn’t matter if the stories have happened or not. However the experience of these stories is very important for me.
The presence of anxiety raised by fate is very strong in my stories, but I release it with an attractive imagery. Between the portraits I wedged photos presenting small parts of a landscape, with the same purpose. Finally, my pictures also transmit a serene acceptance of transiency.
In 2009 I had a very strong déjà vu illusion.
The following text was written in 2012, and it resumes my previous observations:
Icland, Time’s in my Lap, Butter-Apple
Forty-three past ten o’clock, spring is here, I hear the birdsong, the low sounds of traffic, a few horns blowing, rattling noises. The ash cloud from the Iceland volcano has reached Icland about now, I see the curtains bloating in the wind coming from the pale green light. Time appears beside me, I take it in my arms.I wrote these lines for my book in the spring of 2010. I’m talking about repeating my grandmother’s motion gesture in front of the Unitarian church in Icland – in 1999, the same way and in the same place as she did 61 years before.
I took my journey to recapture the ancient places that same year. At first it only meant a technical and aestethic challenge. However, during the ten years I spent taking the pictures and the digital technique replaced the analog one, I began to wonder about the concepts of repetition, passing, eternity, and time.
What is time? A mystery, a figment — and all-powerful. It conditions the exterior world, it is motion married to and mingled with the existence of bodies in space, and with the motion of these. Would there then be no time if there were no motion? No motion if no time? We fondly ask. Is time a function of Space? Or space of time? Or are they identical? Echo answers. Time is functional, it can be referred to as action; we say a thing’s “brought about” by time. What sort of thing? Change! Now is not then, here not there, for between them lies motion. But the motion by which one measures time is circular, is in a closed circle; and might almost equally well be described as rest, as cessation of movement—for the there repeats itself constantly in the here, the past in the present. Furthermore, as our utmost effort cannot conceive a final limit either to time or in space, we have settled to think of them as eternal and infinite—apparently in the hope that if this is not very successful, at least it will be more so than the other. But is not this affirmation of the eternal and the infinite the logical-mathematical destruction of every and any limit in time or space, and the reduction of them, more or less, to zero? Is it possible, in eternity, to conceive of a sequence of events, or in the infinite of a succession of space-occupying bodies? Conceptions of distance, movement, change, even of the existence of finite bodies in the universe—how do these fare? Are they consistent with the hypothesis of eternity and infinity we have been driven to adopt? Again we ask, and again echo answers. [Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain]
Maybe I have succeeded in portraying time, which is not necessarily linear, while at times I managed to make it disappear, for in fact it does not really exist.
I started to learn to accept passing and became more sensitive to experiences which got their meaning only by later events: through my recaptures, as well as my exploring the ancient places and reading the texts of famous renowned philosophers. These interesting meetings, coincidences and chances could help us read the future. This is the paradox of the journey of life: we have an infinite number of possibilities which we always reduce to a single one by choice, resulting in having but one road to walk. You will walk down your road in any case, and, though it might seem fate, in the end you are the one to govern it.
When time stops, it is all right to feel some déja vu – where we might even “remember” a moment of our future.
We departed for Ghimeş and surroundings in July 2010, doing some shopping right before. In the shop I saw a pregnant, blonde woman coming towards me from the light, maybe both from the illumination and the smile so typical of expexting women, she had a warm, honey-coloured aura. She looked familiar.
That spring in the Sândominic camp auntie Irma asked me to photograph her, to let her great-grandchildren see how she looked once she is dead. Apple trees were blooming in the yard. Inside the house she blushed a little, in her movements I could see the same clumsy ladylike charm I usually can in little girls. I had a stange feeling when a young, expectingant girl with a bulging tummy spilled the buttered apples from her shirt to mine.
The hot weather or the time did not follow us to Ghimeş. We sat in the cool shade of pine trees, sometimes people were singing, the host accompanied them with the violin, I blew the trumpet.
In the evenings we walked up to the sheepfolds. Then we had to return home, on our way to Târgu Mureş we visited auntie Irma. Her apples became sweet as honey in the summer sun, the yard was full with relatives, to my surprise I saw, like a phenomenonvision, the lady from the shop. I gave them the pictures, they were happy, everyone smiled. They also seemed somewhat embarrassed; how should they repay me, by giving me apples? I had to shake the tree myself, I picked some in my shirt – it was then that the girl came over to me and from the top of her bulging tummy spilled her butter-apples into my shirtgave me her ones.
I met Beatrix in September.
I can imagine building a house in Icland, where my grandfather’s house and the colfarm stables once stood. Matyi will take a picture, on which neither I nor Biri will be present any more.
We will play a lot until then, waiting for the full moons, I will blow the trumpet more confidently, and will not build a golf course in Icland.
Last June Beatrix, Dávid and I waited for the full moon to rise in Icland, on our “golf course”. I knew it will be later than the yesterday, but I did not think the Sun would not wait for it on the sky. By the time the moon’s large orange top showed up, the sun had set. It did not shine any more on the meadow or my friends, but it must have waved to the moon, as it was so large, fat and smiley. I began jumping for joy, as I used to as a kid, so long ago. We did not know there was a moon eclipse, and that the Earth interposed the evening goodbyes of the celestial orbs.
We almost missed the magnificent moonriserise of the supermoon this year, as I did not have much time to wonder about where it the moon usually rises, and where I should stand to make it appear between the two churches.
John K. Grande
Standing on the Edge of Time – Zsolt Fekete’s Anthropo-photography
Zsolt Fekete does not consider his photographs to be documents. These photographs are embodiments of the life process. The photographer is more like an anthropologist of the present moment. He exist in the instantaneous parentheses between the bookends of the past and the future. His grandparents, his parents, and his family have recaptured, and reclaimed their ancestral lands at Ikland. They now garden there and spend time on it. The land becomes a place of reflection. These photos are not strictly documentary, more inner reflections, with an autobiographical character of introspection, even as they catch the details. A plastic container and a pipe with a water tap,… Some traces of plant growth, once living, now dead, follow the metal pathways of the pipe. It’s like life. Zsolt’s father’s hand is bleeding from a rosehip, a small detail that illuminates how personal this plot of land is. The human body, the landscape as a body… the two seem inseparable. And we see the moon reappearing throughout this series, either full moon or lunar eclipse. Interestingly, the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch included a full moon in many of his paintings, and it was always a full moon. In one such photo, the photographer’s mother and father can be seen in their garden under the full moon’s glare…
A wall painting in the Culture Palace in Tirgu Mures from 1913 became a source for Zsolt’s photo Beatrix (2013). Here, Beatrix looks as if she is a near mythological being suspended in time. She looks as if she is floating, almost an illusion. The expression on Beatrix’s face is Mona lisa-like, serene as it is eternal. The land that surrounds her is a metaphor. The land is also what enfolds, embroiders, completes her presence. Zsolt Fekete’s portraits in the landscape are open and interpretive, an extreme environmental photo portraiture that offers real insights into the conditions and realities of his subjects. In Beatrix (2011), we see a woman dressed in black in a rising landscape with hills, church and skyline. Yet another shows her resting in a moment of calm and repose, perhaps after a picnic. During a full lunar eclipse, the moon hangs on the horizon in David and Beatrix (2011). You can see them standing there with their golf clubs looking outwards with an inquisitive air.
A building feels like a set of clothes here. It surrounds some mysterious invisible body of energy – the energy of the people who lived, or still live there. The house deteriorates, the roof collapses, and the land remains. How can you be nostalgic about entropy, having realized the experiences Transylvanian families witnessed over time. Those who go and those who stay. The memories are still the same wherever you are. Cultures, however, do not collapse. Cultures are more entropic than that. They have a morphological character. They endlessly re-invent themselves. Traces are carried over form generation to generation. An old ashtray could attain a sacred look worn away as the metal is, the silver worn until it is seen for what it is, a coat, a cloak, a building whose surfaces are removed subtly, invisibly, by the passage of time.
Collapse has an altogether different meaning, on the edge of time, where changes are not monitored, where the symbolic dimension appears almost unnoticed. Where collapse is not sensational, but more like the way a tree falls unnoticed in a forest. And nature is the eternal backdrop, endless this river of nature in time.
And so standing on the edge of time, Zsolt Fekete has produced an incredible array of images. Even the dogs have ancestors, nephews, and are inter-generationally documented, like the people. And the strange displacements, the people in spaces that have such a history, where buildings disappear or remain like ghosts, are simply metaphors for how ephemeral life is. We stand in a point, or a place. The landscape surrounds. The memory is as transient as the people. Csaba, a boy stands in front of two horses in 1999. Zoltan, a boy hangs from a home made soccer goal post in 2014. The goal seems irrelevant. The landscape surrounds these two photo-markers that illuminate the same place. This is the story Zsolt Fekete’s photographs tell. It is one where the visual cues are intuitive, as when not everything is communicated openly, ort even as it is all out in the open. The buildings, the churches, the trees are always there, like a backdrop. We see an elderly woman, still graceful, still beautiful, standing in her bedroom pointing to a weaving with floral motifs. The woven patterns are on the wall, and they appear again on the bed. The landscape is woven in a similar way, for it is the source for the motifs, the flowers, the patterns and the age-old tradition of weaving brings it all to life!
An exhibition by Zsolt Fekete entitled Zsolt Fekete
According to Hiroshi Sugimoto photography is just like a found object. This is how Zsolt Fekete finds not only the image itself in reality, but also the themes and conceptions – or rather he lets them find him.
His present exhibition is inspired by the autobiography of the artist: he discovers and reveals those bonds which influenced his creative life before and after his father’s death. The central element is a candle lit up on a small metal plate in the memory of his father, that after its extinction melted in a curious form. This motif has two incarnations: the primary one is the photo of the object, which is projected in a literally monumental frame, and includes the experience, the relation with the phenomenon and the object.
The concrete imprint of the experience – the object itself – has a secondary importance here; it only looms in the space of the exhibition, as a sign. It is an unusual phenomenon: the value of tangible reality diminishes among Pictures (with a capital P), memories and experiences; the frame and the glass surface are archiving the object even more, they realize the remoteness of a relic. In comparison with the object, its projected image is more a part of life, it is an experienced and active reality – strengthened by the homelike and ordinary presence of a paper towel that appears in the corners.
Another intersection of the exhibition is the analogy between two works of art (a painting and a photo). The authors’ names are identical, the characters are similar, as well as their sitting position – and somewhat even their atmosphere; but the real information about them are different: the pictures of two different authors are separated in time by 41 years. The analogy comes into being through time and space, the two are creating a surreal space which attracts the receiver.
Photography by itself is dreamlike, the sitting figure is floating as a vision (even in its original presentation, this photo created analogy with the story-teller’s figure which appears on a fresco in the Art Nouveau style Palace of Culture in Marosvásárhely / Târgu Mureş). As a result of the multiple contextualization of visual structures, “official” reality comes to an end.
The gesture of the artist creates correlations, it is a play with objects and images. There is something childish in all this stuff: seeking for the fatefulness in reality… But the artist treats the mystic thread at its proper place, as an organic part of life, so that its enhancement doesn’t become a striving after effects.
The gesture emphasizes: it picks out objects from reality, the experiences with the father, relocating the works and figures of their common life into a new space – the mental space of associations. The exhibition is a mapping of this relocation.
Zsolt Fekete’s exhibition opened on the 12th October 2016 at Marosvásárhely (Târgu-Mureş), in the House of Dance and Contemporary Art, during the Moving Bricks Festival.