Szász Lilla: Dazzle
18 May 2016 – 1 July 2016

Curator: Monika Perenyi

Three rooms – three themes. Or rather, a circle of questions explored from three angles: closeness and devotion associated with the female character and femininity, soft-spoken intimacy, and the emphatic female solidarity. Secrets. The desire to share secrets, to mould our desires to reality, to images that we can revisit – to observe them as reflected in the looking glass of the Other –, and a slippery slope, the uncertainty of opening up. In his short story titled Dazzle, Truman Capote attempts to resolve a childhood incident of telling his secret to someone. As a young adolescent, Capote reveals his deepest secret to Mrs. Ferguson, who, he believes, has magical powers. After sinful preparations, he divulges to her his burning desire to be a girl. However, the ‘mage’ responds with a disappointing lack of understanding and with disillusioning profanity: she laughs at him. The magic dissolves, and the writer struggles with the memory of this failure till the end of his live.

One of Lilla Szász’s series in this exhibition is eponymous with Capote’s short story. Her Dazzle Images serve as photographic accessories, emphatic helpers, and also documents that record boys experiencing their femininity. More than just the documentation of a playful performance, the transformation acted out in front of the camera with the photographer’s participation, the image, being a photograph, can acquire a performative power to produce reality, leaving a trace in our psychical and mental life.

And this brings us to a circle of questions of in the domain of the theory of photography, which, borrowing the title of Capote’s short story, we will call dazzle. These theoretical questions are relevant to the photos in the other rooms of this exhibition too. The practice of photography has access to one single reality, namely, to light. Nevertheless, we adamantly regard it (and are attached to it) as a medium to explore our world and document our life. Photographs feed our imagination in a theoretical sense too: they have an effect on remembering (and forgetting), and may trigger extreme emotions. Photography can be an instrument of documentaristic recording and visual experimenting as well as of acting out desired roles and even of make-believing.

Some questions never lose their gripping relevance: Can intimate moments be rendered photographically? Is it necessary to do so at all? Or the contrary: can the act of photographing foster the intimacy of a situation? A catalyser, using his/her camera in these close partnership situations, can the artist set off emotions that that even the actors of the scenes were unconscious of but can contribute to shaping their identity and can have an influence on the course of their lives? In her artistic practice, Lilla Szász challenges the limits of the impossible: the image sequences presented in this exhibition can be tested across the vast spectrum from document and fiction. If we perceive them as visual /photographic fiction, dazzling mirages emanating from the actors’ lives, if we look upon them as photo-graphs that the spectator can experience and learn from, then we can realize that such mirages do have a root in reality.

Monika Perenyei