Motion - pictures. Telephotographs, 1980-82
The beginnings of Bálint Szombathy’s wire photograph collection date back to 1980. During the eighties, he saved hundreds of press photos from the daily waste as the photo editor of the Novi Sad journal Magyar Szó (Hungarian Word). While such photos were, in effect, useless, they encompassed a quality of aesthetic expression that allowed for their inclusion in the arts. Reinterpreted through his sensibility and value system, Szombathy subsumed flawed press photos and exhibited them as his own works since 1982. He perceived of these images as Marcel Duchamp understood the objets trouvés, i.e. found objects.
Joining the movement of the Budapest-based electrography group Árnyékkötõk (Shadow weavers) and acting as the founding member of the Hungarian Electrographic Art Association, Szombathy featured his wire photographs – referred to as motion-pictures by him – at several national exhibitions over the last two decades. The basic linguistic attribute to his telephotography is defined by the disintegration and deconstruction of our tangible world’s motifs, as well as the exit from the state of illustrative language towards visual signs.
Bálint Szombathy incorporated the medium of the “wirephoto” among the means of artistic expression in a way that is unparalleled even in an international context. Striving for completeness, the majority of pieces at this retrospective exhibition are featured for the first time, providing a comprehensive picture of this, yet rather unknown product of the multifaceted artist.
In the words of art historian Miško Šuvakovic:
“Szombathy is a real and unique artist after painting. Therefore, similarly to the artists of the Italian arte povera, he is a nomadic artist who is not determined by a single medium; rather, he employs various media according to his interests and conceptual needs. Szombathy is a political artist who has never talked politics or been the artist of politics. He, instead, is an artist who applied higher or lower level, local, international or global politics as a tool to express conflicts, research, and reactions in his art and life. […]
After almost forty years of activity, Szombathy’s creative practice is still full of challenges and provocative, both with regards to the arts and to the world of politics changing in front of and with us. Central aim to his art is confrontation with changes and the fluctuation of the world/machine.”
(by Lajos Szakolczay)