Intimacy is an elusive concept. While it is most commonly understood in terms of what can be described as a close and affectionate relationship or interaction between two people, the notion of intimacy goes beyond the interpersonal. People may form intimate relationships with or attachment to objects, places or other non-human beings as well. Past human presence or experience may also transform an ordinary object or a place into something special and intimate; we can recognise traces of intimacy even in the absence of human beings. A photographer’s understanding of what intimacy is can take on different meanings and can be expressed in a number of different ways. For the purposes of this call, both the what and the how are of equal importance and interest.
Natasha Rudenko: Closer not so close No. 5
Rui Diogo Castela: Cafede No. 3
Shāna Einhorn: Aunt Violet No. 4
Lita Poliakova: Lick Affair No. 2
Bruce Berkow (New York, NY, USA), Katina Bitsicas (Columbia, MO, USA), Dagmara Bugaj (Łódź, Poland), Rui Diogo Castela (Arraiolos, Portugal), Crystelle Colucci (New York, NY, USA), Marco de Sarorce (Lille, France), François Dolmetsch (Bogotá, Colombia), Shāna Einhorn (Huntington, NY, USA), Colleen Fitzgerald (MA, USA), Margrieta Jeltema (Vermezzo, Italy), Susan Keiser (Ossining, NY, USA), Benjamin Kis (Munich, Germany), Romina Mandrini (Sydney, Australia), Rebecca Moseman (Purcellville, VA, USA), Nancy Oliveri (New York, NY, USA), Kinga Owczennikow (Nowa Ruda, Poland), Nathan Pazsint (Pittsburgh, PA, USA), Lita Poliakova (Helsinki, Finland), David Quinn (Setauket, NY, USA), Paula Rae Gibson (Utrecht, Netherlands), Sadaf Rassoul Cameron (Santa Fe, NM, USA), Jared Ricardo (Columbus, OH, USA), Susan Rosenberg Jones (New York, NY, USA), Natasha Rudenko (Moscow, Russia), Siru Wen (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Sanne Wolthaus (Breda, Netherlands)
Please click on the names to see contact information (website or e-mail) where available.
Opening remarks by Ilona Kovács
This is my first time in this wonderful gallery, and I came here with a lot of expectations. Not only because it is in the most exciting neighborhood of Budapest, and because it seems to be one of the gemstones of Ráday street, but also because Krisztina Domján, managing director, and Zsolt Bátori, artistic director are good old friends of mine. Back then, at Rutgers University, New Jersey, when we were all students of different topics in the humanities or social sciences, I already suspected that the two of them can do wonders together. One day they volunteered to babysit my then 7 month old daughter, who was a happy camper, just have learnt to sit up straight and enjoyed the new freedom in observing the world from that position. It was only a few hours as I remember, but when we returned with my husband, the scene was completely different: the baby was travelling long distances on her belly, in other words, she was already able to crawl….Kriszta and Zsolt announced proudly that they have shown her how to do it, and practiced with her a little bit. Well, this was of course the end of a quiet household, and starting that day, we had to constantly watch the baby because of her new ability for locomotion. On the other hand, we also learned that Kriszta and Zsolt will not just sit around as baysitters, they will be proactive, and wherever there is a possibility for development, they will have ideas, and they will also make those ideas happen….
….so is the case with this gallery and this exhibition. Since their opening two years ago, they set things moving here as well with almost 30 contemporary photo exhibitions already!
So, I hope you excuse me for this intimate prelude…but, well, this current one is about intimacy after all, and what adds more to intimacy than sharing personal experiences.
On this note, let me introduce myself also - as a vision scientist, psychologist, and photographer. These three interests share the need for a close, intimate view on how people get to know the world surrounding them, how they get to know each other. The vision scientist studies the brain processes of perception, including the different and complex levels of representing objects, living things and scenes; the psychologist inquiries into the mechanisms of human relationships; and the photographer captures those many times invisible nuances of the ever changing world that can then live their own private life on the print. All this knowledge brings understanding, understanding leads to respect, and respect leads to love. One might say that intimacy, this elusive thing, is basically the science/art of love…love of people, friends, children; the love of objects; the love of nature, and all…
The call for this exhibition pointed out that “a photographer’s understanding of what intimacy is can take on different meanings and can be expressed in a number of different ways.” And the submitted artwork seems to support this idea very well.
We can see classic examples of physical closeness between people in Francois Dolemetsch’s nude dancers/lovers, or in Rebecca Moseman’s intertwined brothers.
Susan Keiser’s paiting-like images capture the gist of romantic and motherly love.
A less romantic, but also very naked and so real Married Life is shown by Nathan Pazsint, with a sublime and humorous background of it provided by Sadaf Rassoul Cameron’s Untitled No. 3.
An absolutely unromantic demonstration of sexual poses is shown in Bruce Berkow’s Exhibit for Adolescents; a more artistic illustration of the sexual act on a young woman’s back as a tattoo by Marco de Sacore; and a hilarious eroticism in David Quinn’s Woodland Intimacy.
A tender smile expresses happy feelings and openness in Susan Rosenberg Jones’ Joel at the barber shop; and another portrait by Romina Mandrini presents a counterpoint, with an inward concentration – yet both are very intimate portraits, we feel very close to those these people.
Summer’s eve in Bucharest and Tea time by Magrieta Jettema, and a seeside picture by Siru Wen transfers the atmosphere of intimacy in common acts as just sitting together, in beautiful black and white.
Rare, private, and not-for-the-public-eye moments and details of people are grasped by Kinga Owczennikow, Paula Rae Gibson, Jared Ricardo, Colleen Fitzgerald, Shana Einhorn and Sanne Wolthaus.
In Dagmara Bugaj’s Selfnature series we get a glimpse of being too close to oneself as an object of dead nature.
And there are those exciting ones where there is not a single person, yet we feel close, such as in Katina Bitsicas’ Teatro di Recordi, where one really expects a person to turn up around the corner.
In Crystelle Colucci’s Valentine’s Day we get a condensed and humorous summary of all those how-to-show-your-love-in-objects and things.
In Benjamin Kis’ Fukushima Now series we can observe the bizarre loneliness of human-made things in the unhopeful lack of people.
And in Nancy Oliveri’s Disillusionment, the only certainty is that even the most beautiful flowers fade away with time.
Well, I am not on the jury, but since I got to talk here, I would like to mention that my favorite was Rebecca Moseman’s Alex at the window that includes so many aspects of intimacy: physical, emotional, playful, expressive, predictable yet interesting; and the black-and white quality is also very beautiful.
But of course, the jury has also done their expert work, and ranked three wonderful images into the honourable mentions category, all the three with some perplexing issues:
Rui Diogo Castela’s Cafede No. 3 brings us to a room detail with a wind instrument in the focal point – leaving us puzzled whether the musician just left, or has this trumpet been sitting there for centuries?
Shāna Einhorn’s Aunt Violet No. 4 is an intense photo of an old, artistic lady, seemingly reflecting on her present and past self at the same time.
Lita Poliakova’s Lick Affair No. 2 is also artfully ambiguous – a sheer presentation of a drop of honey on white sugar, brilliant color and incongruity…and of course the urge to taste all that…
And finally, the choice of the jury:
Natasha Rudenko’s Closer not so close No. 5, two people apparently together, but are they close or not? Are they going home or somewhere else? Are they actually together or just happen to walk in the same direction – you will never really know, just as you will never be able to define what intimacy is exactly – but this is not a problem until life goes on.