Dancephotos Opening (Szeged, 2006 November 15)   photo by © Edvárd Molnár


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1982-2007.: Temerin, Subotica, Senta, Bačka Topola, Skorenovac, Oslo (Norwey), Szeged, Veszprém, Gödöllő, Budapest, Stege (Denmark), Nyírbátor, Mali Iđoš


(Organization by Róbert Révész)

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Takt-Award - Temerin 1988., 1996.
Hungarian Contemporary Dance Festival- First Award - Veszprém 1999., 2000., 2002.
Dancepaleta '99 - Golden Medail - Budapest 1999.

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What makes a theatre-photo good?

One of my colleagues working for the national press agency (MTI) told me, that it's easy to make photos in the theatre, because the pictures are already there. On the contrary I say: this is why it's difficult. It is not enough to catch the view composed by the director. If the photographer is able to add to this something, then the theatre photo will be good. I want to make a picture what is living in me. And the picture which lives in you in all of us.

After all: what makes the importance of the "base"? What kind of performances inspires you?

As the matter of fact when the performance is boring or the music is not good enough that is not able to inspire me. That's why the theatre-photographing makes me bored in general, I mean literal theatre and opera. Dance theatre is closer to me. When the whole stage is in move, or people even couples - that's what I'm interested in.

How is it possible to divide the genre of theatre-photo and dance photo - if there is any sense to make such a difference?

Of course there is. They are completely differing theatre languages, so the photos must be different, too. In point of scene the literal theatre and opera are static; dance is dynamic even if it is slow. It changes more times and more quickly.

What are you watching in a performance?

As the matter of fact, when making photos, I don't see anything from the performance. The situation is similar to that when somebody goes to the forest for hunting. The theatre is one dense, dark forest. You take your weapon, and wait for the right moment. If all the circumstances are perfect and you shut at the right moment, the game is yours. If not, it runs away and you are after it as long as you can shut… So, the whole thing is a big adventure which - if the sight and sounds are complete - moves deeply inside of me such forces and puts me on such a high level of concentration and turns me into some other kind of sense in which there is nothing else only the photo machine and a dancer. And in such of situations usually good picture's made.

On what kind of moments and pictures are you waiting for?

Maybe it seems little strange, but I use the dancers to make my own sight, my view of world. It is not only a documentation of happenings on the stage, I want more: I want to show the feelings moving in the dancer during the performance. For that I have to catch the moment of transubstantiation.

Putting the dancer out of his dance?

I would like to catch and show the essence of dance. I don't want to explain the movements; I'm looking for the moments in which the universal, but in the meantime, the deepest human reveals itself. The experience of being, the experience about ancient forces, about divine and diabolic, good and bad. I am trying to catch and show the noble and painful relation between human and God using ancient pictures living inside of us for a help. By Hamvas' opinion everybody is carrying in himself the memories of Golden Ages… I contemplate to transmit situations, when the theatre becomes a pray for the lost harmony, pray for reparation of the destroyed world.

This kind of philosophy, your eagerness for ancient purity and harmony explains that you are working almost only with traditional techniques?

This is not a philosophy; it is more a projection of life-feeling. I am rather slow; maybe that's why I use traditional techniques, black and white. If I can't go to the dark-room for a week, I feel emptiness. I need this contact with photosensitive material, with this alchemical transformation.

I miss this kind of personal involvement in case of many other photographers. It is usually very hard to find that element which shows more than documentation and not only in illustrations but in exhibition materials, too what would make me capable to receive these pictures like substantive work of art, like aesthetic experience. This is the reason, why I can hardly find any personal in photos.

Unfortunately, in many cases that's the situation. This makes my task so difficult but in the same way it makes it beautiful. There are some photographers, whose works are of high standard, even if their personal style-elements are not easy to find for a laic. Photos of Koncz Zsuzsa are unequivocally of this kind, but I can also mention works of Dusa Gábor, Schiller Kata, Éder Vera, Bege Nóra, Áfrány Gábor, Orosz Péter, Katkó Tamás, Kenyeres Csilla, Frank Yvett and Molnár Kata. And of course, the young generation with digital technique has already appeared. They are shutting few pictures, and they can see them almost immediately on the LCD, because they are curious, and that is naturally so. Among them there are several very good, so it is not to be frightened of being without new generation.

Watching your pictures I always have a feeling, that they are put there, there is always happening something, and that happening is important. Sometimes I carry a movement, a look, the drama of a photo for days inside of my soul. It is significant, how you are focusing on details. Have you had different style-eras?

I had several periods. At the beginning I made photos with long expositional time, I tried to make picturesque world. And suddenly, this kind of photos became a fashion; every Hungarian magazine was full of them. Then I thought I should try something else: where is exactly the focal field of a photo. Recently I tried to put it on the eyes of dancers.

What is your method of work? Do you watch the performance several times in favour of choosing the best point of view, the best movements?

I rather make photos on hallmark. There I can move, go around; I can prove the composition, the background. On a performance I make photos only when it is necessary, because my experience is that the most beautiful things are happening in silence. When the audience is in, I can't shut my machine at any moment, because I may disturb them or the artists, so I became disturbed, too. The chosen picture almost always goes away. So, I have to leave it, give it back, like a present…

Let's talk about music. It had a great influence on your career even as theatre.

Music is very important to me. I started to make music almost at the same time, when I started to make photos, maybe few years later. And to make music-photos, too by the influence of Dormán Laci. The beginning was a little bit strange, because on the first jazz-days in Novi Sad, one of the organizers wouldn't let me in, because I didn't have photographer's certificate. After a while however I've got in. In 1984 I caught Charles Gayle, one of these pictures was the base of a poster I've named: the black pianist. When making dance photos, the acoustic experience is very important to me. For instance, if I see a photo taken by somebody else on a performance I know, I hear the music. Try to watch photos taken on for you unknown performances and observe what kind of music is associated in you.

In case of jazz-photos the drift is to make the picture sound? It is a strange paradox: you have to watch the music if you want to hear the picture…

The jazz-photos are in fact portraits. Portraits made in time of making music. Few years ago I realized that a jazz-concert is static for me, too. Usually I wait for a good moment a long, there are long minutes of nothing happening, my eyes start to hurt, then I decide to have a little rest, and then the waited moment is suddenly there. It goes away, and you have to wait for other one.

In case of musicians are you looking for that moment of transubstantiation too?

It is a little bit different, when you are making pictures about jazz-musicians. I've learned from Dormán Laci, that it is forbidden to make photos at first moments; you have to wait a while. The concert starts, you transmit yourself to the music and in the meantime, you learn the character of musicians. You are watching what the face of saxophonist is like, when he blows into his instrument or when he stops playing. These musicians transmit themselves very quickly to music, and then the photos can be made. You already know, what picture do you want to take; the task is to hunt for them.

Questions: Melánia Miklós
(Fotóművészet 2005/4-5)

Translated by Erna Nagy Abonyi

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