Author: Zoltán Jókay

Yesterday our TV set died.

Yesterday our TV set died.

Behind its bulky corpse, lost in time but not in space,
I found some invitation cards I made for my diploma twenty years ago.

I look at them now,

and remember how I put up these self made cards on the walls and doors of my university,
inviting my fellow students to my diploma exhibition.

It was a design school, this university of mine,
and now it´s funny to see

how I broke the rules of professionalism with my amateurish design,
my intentional spelling chaos,
and the hand printed letters.

I was full of protest then.

It could have been my life.

image by
JH Engstrom

An alcoholic sitting drunken in his urine,
a demented senior yelling the remains of his brains out of his head,
a junkie lying in the gutter,
the homeless wearing dirty rags,
an old bearded woman sitting depressed in the darkness of her messy home.

It´s easy to photography all these people without leaving them any dignity.
They all have been once children with the beauty inherent to children,
and the hopes and the fun and the smile of children.

Somewhere on the road through life,
something has happened to them.

Behind the obvious,
there is a lot more explore,
an adventure through the essentials of human existence mirrored by the life of others.

It could have been your life.
It could have been my life.

Photography doesn´t just reflect reality as a mirror reflects one’s sleepy face,
photography mirrors the ideas of the photographer about the world as he thinks it is.
Working on the image of reality,

we have to sort out the photographs merely depicting the obvious.

It´s not enough to mirror the suffering,
behind the facade of human desolation and devastation there is always somebody,
who in his essence, shares with us the fundamentals of life,
and the fundamentals of human dignity.

JH Engstroms´ protagonists
depict strength and sorrow;
they show fragility and a certain kind of beauty
that is there and has to be found.

 Mrs  Auberger is going to die.

For  one week now, Dr.Auberger doesn´t speak anymore.
She doesn´t eat or drink  no more.

On a coffee-table, an old book with poems by Heinrich Heine.
It´s the only book in this last refuge of the old lady.

I don´t know what to do for her.
She doesn´t seem to be around anymore.

I pick up this worn out volume,
and start reading out loud.

Then I quit.

Dr. Auberger lifts  her hand,
maybe she just said good bye.

Seiichi Furuya / A secret about a secret.

image by
Seiichi Furuya

 

The longer I am occupied with photography,

the more tired I get tired of most of what I see.

Again and again

I find the iterations of the same photographic languages:

photojournalism,the technically perfect American photograph,

romantic images of Eastern Europe,

intimate and direct photographs in grainy black and white,

images of prostitutes,

and of course the never ending flood of images

depicting pretty young women.

 

 

 

Seiichi Furuya´s photographs accompany me now for long years.

I am not getting tired of them,

on the contrary, scanning them for my blog,

researching for images on the net,

I realize that I still don´t know his work

and I won´t know it as long I don´t all the books he has published:

all of them centered around Christine Furuya-Gössler.

 

 

 

When I first encountered Furuya´s work,

I didn’t know about the illness and about the suicide of his wife,

and actually I didn´t need this information to be drawn to his photographs.

 

 

 

Fuyura doesn´t mold his wife in the obligatory form

men like to push on women: as an object of dreams and desire.

Christine evolves as a person distinctly separate from the photographer.

That signals respect. Looking at the photographs of her I realize:

I don´t know her, and I won´t know her. She keeps her secret.

 

 

 

Photographs often create the illusion of giving answers.

They, in fact, never do.

 

 

 

Furuya´s images put up questions, and nothing more.

That is what photography is and should be: a mute mirror of reality,

the only message to be read: ask yourself about what you see.

 

 

 

What we get to see are family snapshots and strictly composed portraits,

many of them masterly and surprising in form.

And: all of the images hold a high degree of intensity.

We see a woman, at first still almost a girl, then,

more and more: she has matured now.

 

 

 

And though the photographer must have been close to her,

I hardly ever get the impression

that she opens up to the photographer in front of her.

She is open to be photographed, but stays for herself.

 

 

 

And here questions start to spring up in my mind:

How much of this is she, and what is the imprint of the photographer?

And why did he photograph her this excessively?

It would be a too easy of an answer to say:

because he loved her or because she was ill.

 

 

 

No stories, as far as I know with the little material I have, no family life.

Hardly any signs of togetherness.

And that’s exactly one of the strengths of Seiichi Furuya´s work:

it invites to look but keeps you out.

 

 

 

 

Seiichi Furuya´s portraits of Christine open up a space

that permits us to imagine them to be a couple.

They were ordinary and very special, as we all are.

He photographed what is closer to us and more important for us

then anything else: the dear ones around us.

Now we can reflect ourselves and our fates in this untold tale.

 

DONIGAN CUMMING/ LIFE AS IT IS.

image by
Donigan Cumming
“The Stage”

 

That Mr. Cummings photographs are staged is obvious

and was never meant to be hidden.

His images could be tagged as overdone, unrealistic and shocking.

Additionally, normal middleclass citizens

don’t know anything about what he is showing us in such a surreal manner.

They don’t know anything about depressing living conditions

without air to breath,

without prospects for now and forever,

they don’t know anything about alcoholism and craze,

they don’t know about a life full of disasters and everlasting desperation.

And if they know, they don’t want to know.

 

Though I have no money, little success and lots of everyday troubles,

I am better off than Mr. Cummings protagonists: I am educated;

I have the freedom of choice and I have a voice.

Though coming from a middle class setting,

as a child I have seen and I have experienced the mood and the desperation

Mr. Cummings photographs are breathing.

Mr.Cummings photographs don’t pretend to be true reflections of reality,

but they do reflect reality.

 

In my job as an unskilled social worker,

I encountered the craze Mr. Cumming is depicting.

Not just through the things I have seen,

but more so through what I have heard.

 

Listening to crazy, lonely,

and frustrated people breathing their hatred

against their neighbors into my face,

I felt, as I feel now, looking at Mr. Cummings photographs.

Their fate could be yours.

 

 

Don´t forget about that.

“Der springt noch auf,” avoice said above me.

When I was a kid,
my parents were a secret to me.

I loved them,
and they loved me.
(As if this would be that simple.)

One of the dearest things for my mother
was a facsimile of “the Bore notebook”
by the Hungarian poet Radnóti Miklós.

This little book fascinated me too,
though I don´t know
how much of it´s meaning I actually understood.

Bleak pages and real handwriting,
lines by a man long gone.

My mother tongue,
Hungarian,
my native language,
German.

Radnóti Miklós was of Jewish origin.
1944 he was taken to the internation camp Bor in Serbia,
and later on, together with several thousand other Jewish prisoners,
driven in a forced march across Hungary up until the Austrian border.
Finally, he was very weak then, as many other of his companions,
Radnóti was shot together with twenty-one of his fellow prisoners.
The mass grave  he was buried in  was opened after the war,
alongside his body they found a notebook called “Notes from Bor” (Bori notesz).
Radnóti must have envisioned his last minutes before he was he was shot.

 

Razglednica 4 / Postcard 4

I fell beside him and his corpse turned over,?
tight already as a snapping string.?
Shot in the neck. “And that’s how you’ll end too,”?
I whisper to myself; “lie still; no moving.?
Now patience flowers in death.” Then I could hear?
“Der springt noch auf,” above, and very near.?
Blood mixed with mud was drying on my ear.


Der springt noch auf/this one still will get up,
what a horrifying mixture of languages.

Man spricht Deutsch.

 


As a child,
though born in Germany,
I thought of myself as a Hungarian,
but this feeling dissolved
as I grew up.

And then,
later on,
as a grown up,
I had the chance
to stay in Budapest
not for long,
but more than just for a moment.

And though

I love
the language
and the look
of the streets,
and I loved to eat,
once again,
the food,
my mother had cooked
long years ago,
and though
I felt
the warmth
of the people
who had welcomed me,

then

I had to realize
this is not my home
and never has been.

 

source of the poem and the two images:

Radnóti Miklós

AROUND AND AROUND

image by Gerry Winogrand

The image above accompanied me for a long time in form of a postcard.

I never thought about it. I just loved the image.

It stood for fun, freedom and ease I am dreaming of and will never reach.

Looking at it now, I see that the ease I detected is the result of hard work

and the risk to break one’s neck is not to be underestimated.

Silence and fear

Dear B,

memories, they tend to hide.

Though most of our acts are directed by our memories,

we are convinced of our freedom of choice.

But we are nothing but puppets on the strings of our past experiences.

Only at times we realize that the present always reflects the past.

At these moments we do remember.

There also might be memories that have to be buried deep down,

because we wouldn’t survive being confronted with them

without support by somebody outside of ourselves.

“Silence and fear.” These two words stick out of your mail.

The photograph you sent me is very touching. It is so tender.

And you are so open and full of trust. It is a photograph to dream about.

Because it visualizes a part of our never-ending desire:

to be close to somebody.

There is your pain. You probably don´t want to be confronted with it,

and you, this might be, don´t want to confront yourself with it.

Probably you  want to forget all about it.

But it is there. It will stay.

One day, you will feel loved again.

A soothing layer will cover your present pain,

and you will be healed. And this pain you want to forget about,

then will  turn into a melancholic memory.

This is how it could be.

TIME ALMOST CAME TO HALT IN ONE IMAGE.

 

Innocence, the future still to come,

and now that we look at this document of a past moment in our life,

we might realize that the future we were dreaming of in very vague terms

never has arrived at our doorstep, and that the dreams we had then,

if we had them, were the innocent dreams of our youth,

and now our youth is gone, and our dreams are gone,

and doors are closed one after an other by an invisible hand.

Hesitating Beauty

Turning the pages of Hesitating Beauty I feel a rising sadness.
And I feel gratitude for the fact that Joshua Lutz found a language that lets us imagine
the outlook of a women who has lost her balance early in life.
The pains we are subjected to we do not dare to share.
Thus we stay alone.

But Joshua Lutz opens a door,
and we are told about a childhood
that was threatening and didn´t offer safety.
And we realize that the author survived hell still staying sane.
There might be hope for all of us.

My mind wanders off, pondering about the reasons for a life gone adrift,
and I wonder about a child deeply hurt, and how he bears with this hurt, now grown up.
The world is dark and threatening in Joshua Lutz´s photographs,
shadows turn alive ready to attack,

and we might feel some of the fear this woman sensed.
She looked for answers,
as we all do. And we see a young and lovely woman, and we reach out to her,
as we always do, but then she changes, turns into a wrack,
de -individualized by her illness, depersonalized
by medication and helpless treatment.

And we see a man,
marked by life,
and we listen to him,
talking silently about that what has happened.

And we a read some of the messages Joshua Lutz mother wrote.
The silent voice of the man, and the short notes of the woman,
they tell differing stories of lives that crossed at one moment in time.

As long photographers want to tell us something

about reality instead of merely hinting at it,they will have to use words to go by their images.
Photographs don´t transport the layers behind the visible that help us in our fumbling attempts to understand reality.

Here the kaleidoscopic use of text snippets and images opens us the door to enter a room created It is a room modeled after reality.
But we have to be aware of the fact that existential situations in life never can be represented
To cope with a childhood like Joshua Lutz has gone through,there has to be a mirror to look into, there have to be words for explanations, there had to be an attempt to understand that was happened.Its a long way to go. And now I could write about the subtle color code connecting the images,and the evil numbers popping up now. I could write about the shadow man,I could write about the images of a young and beautiful womanand the sadness I feel about her wasted life, but I want to end with the words of Joshua’s mother:

I am so sorry.

image and book by Joshua Lutz