Introduction to Zsuzsa Darab’s photography

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Today I am very pleased to present the work of Zsuzsa Darab. As always this short piece, an introduction to her work, will initiate SnappedAway In Depth Series of this week’s posts: first an interview, then an opportunity to showcase one project and finally
a selection of one photo picked from the images published during the whole week, which will be later printed on a t-shirt.

Zsuzsa Darab is a young artist. Now, this is by no means a statement of justification or an excuse for immature work – she doesn’t need that, as I’m sure you will agree after familiarising yourself with the following photographs. Instead this is simply a starting point, a place of departure into a set of specific topics. There is of course, the big one – the family. Zsuzsa can be counted amongst the photographers for whom this theme seems to be as natural as breathing. She seems relaxed and at ease while pointing the lens at different generations of her clan, working through all the complexities – the dependencies, the closeness, the uncertainties, the love and pain of going through life together as a family. Underlying the supposed spontaneity of the images such as the one above is her role as a set director. That is obviously not an everyday scene depicted, nor is the stripy clothing a happy accident (or is it?). The simple gesture of covering your mother’s eyes, the blind love, the continuity of the gesture passed between the generations, all compared to nurturing a garden under the shelter of love. Sounds too sweet, doesn’t it. Sounds like a fantasy, an ideal yes, but far from reality. Here is where details matter, one detail to be specific – the grandmother’s smile. Of course, it’s a smile of posing for the camera, fooling around with the young ones. But it’s also a knowing smile, the lady has seen it all, the beautiful and the ugly, the hand over eyes thing is no much for what she carries underneath that silent smile. Her whole pose is also the least theatrical of them all. She’s not really fooling around, she just allows the young ones to include her.

Contrast her with the really young ones here. The hair, again playing the role of time itself, connecting the two images, but see how different the scene is. First of all we have the strong and obvious eye contact, more theatrical body language, both boys playing the tough guys, so cute in denying their complete vulnerability. I hope you noticed the once more coordinated clothing.

A shift happens and we are confronted with this (which is probably my personal favourite) quick moment of something happening. I’m sure I don’t need to point out the family blue outfit by now, but what exactly is this image about? Yes it’s still family, but a step back, both metaphorical and literal just occurred. The closeness and cuteness are both gone, all we have is this wall of time, but look, there’s the detail again, this time disturbing the supposed meditation on the passage of time, the age (time) difference so key to the very notion of family: the girl’s hand and twisting of the neck into this somewhat awkward pose, she’s caught in the middle of a quick jolt, what’s going on? Is it a disturbance creeping in? There is a palpable act happening just outside the frame.

Gorgeous shiny blue (worthy of Martin Parr), and a different take on the nurturing aspect, this time not so romantic, it’s simply work, and of course, it’s the mother that does the key bit. Sleeves up, no fooling around here.

Just when you think Zsuzsa planned a systematic approach of orchestrating her family to suit her photographic vision, you get a series of images raising questions – it feels like a candid street shot, the kind full of raw emotions (which is suitable), gestures, fragments and exaggerations. How very appropriate.

It’s not all family though. There is the youthful energy of night strolls with your friends, doing things you shouldn’t be doing in places you shouldn’t be. And of course, polaroids are the one and only way to frame this stream of sparks. Sentimental, maybe a bit, but hey, there’s time for that as well.

The faces obscured by light, how pure. It’s the memory we all have, just fill in the face with someone you used to be so close to, and now not even sure what country they are in. It’s that energy that counts here, faces are not important, it’s a shared experience of trying to suck out every last drop of those special nights. Timeless.

The last bit is silent. No siblings running around screaming, no friends’ laughter. You are all alone now. Or lonely, that of course depends. Face your private internal noise for a change. You can try to silence it by again focusing on the details, this time all around you. There was violence here. Don’t try to imagine it though.

There was some violence here as well, but that was long time ago. The missing leg, yes, but the support is there. We move on. Whatever happened, we look into the future.

But the future, the future is a dark mystery, better have a flashlight at hand – or a flash, so you can watch out for those possible demons waiting for you in the rain.

Yes, the explosion of the flash will help you move through the night. The future, yes, your desires, plans, goals, all out there somewhere, just be sure not to confuse your goal with a clothes dryer. And we are back home, back to the family house, the circle is complete.

If you enjoyed reading this post stay with us for more of Zsuzsa Darab’s photography. Also you might want to check her website to find out more about her work.

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