ARTMargins is pleased to present the work of Hungarian-born artist Gábor Ösz. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, Ösz pursued postgraduate studies at the Rijksacademie of Visual Arts in Amsterdam, where he has lived ever since. Ösz's photographic and video work is conceptual yet pervaded by a strong sense of the importance of the medium. Among Ösz's best known works are On the Edge (1998), a minimalist video work that can be viewed as a study of dimensions. In the project Liquid Horizon (1998-2002) Ösz uses as cameras WW II-era bunkers that were once part of the Atlantic wall. After this, Ösz produced several architecture-related projects that used the technique of Camera Obscura. He called this series Camera Architectura. It contains projects such as Prora Project and Constructed View. In Travelling Landscape (2002) a train functions as the camera, while in Permanent Daylight (2003-04) the camera function is carried out by a caravan.
Artist-in-Residence, Villa Arson, centre national d’art contemporain, Nice (FR)
Residence program, Project Atelier-Berlin from the Foundation for Art Design & Architecture(D)
Grant of Centre National de l’Audiovisuel’s Mosaïque Programme Awards, Luxembourg (LU)
Vrije Opdracht Fotografie, Amsterdam’s Foundation for Art, Amsterdam (NL)
Basisbeurs, grant from Foundation for Art, Design & Architecture, Amsterdam (NL)
2001, 2003, 2004
Werkbeurs, grant from Foundation for Art, Design & Architecture, Amsterdam (NL)
Residence at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunst, Amsterdam (NL)
Artist-in-Residence, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York (USA)
Study grant, Soros Foundation, Budapest (H)
Grant of Derkovits, Székesfehérvár (H)
Smohay-Prize, Szt. István Király Múzeum Székesfehérvár (H)
Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest
Selected Solo Exhibition
Colors of black & white, Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris (FR)
Works, Museum Kranenburg (D)
After all, Exhition space of BETC, Paris, (FR)
Solo presentation Art Amsterdam, Amsterdam (NL)
Space Monochrome, Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris (FR)
Space Monochrome, Galerie van der Grinten, Köln (D)
Camera Architectura, Gallery Quai 1. Images’06/ Vevey (CH)
Constructed View (with Attila Csörgö), Galerie Willem van Zoetendaal, Amsterdam (NL)
Permanent Daylight, Galerie Willem van Zoetendaal, Amsterdam (NL)
Liquid Horizon, Büro für Fotos, Cologne (D)
Camera Architectura, Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris (FR)
Prora Project, Büro für Fotos, Cologne (D)
Prora Project, Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris (FR)
Liquid Horizon, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal (CA)
Liquid Horizon, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague (NL)
Liquid Horizon with sculpturs of Asger Jorn, Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris (FR)
Liquid Horizon 2, Centrum Beeldende Kunst, Nijmegen (NL)
Prora Project, Galerie Willem van Zoetendaal, Amsterdam (NL)
Liquid Horizon, Ludwig Museum, Budapest (cat.) (H)
Liquid Horizon, CCC, Tours, Tours (cat.) (H)
Liquid Horizon, Museum Schloß Moyland, Cleve (cat.) (D)
Landscapes of the Atlantic Wall, Vishal, Haarlem (NL)
Landscapes of the Atlantic Wall, Kunstraum Fuhrwerkswaage, Cologne (cat.) (D)
Wall Monochrome, Szt. István Király Múzeum, Székesfehérvár (cat.) (H)
Tautologies, (Projections) Sala Do Resco, Lisbon (cat.) (P)
The Picture of Light, Liget Gallery, Budapest (H)
Wall Monochrome, Zichy Gallery, Leiden (NL)
Reconstruction, Eveart Gallery, Budapest (H)
Pictures on the wall, Újlak Gallery, Budapest (H)
Pictures on the wall, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York (USA)
Pictures on the wall, Szt.István Király Múzeum, Székesfehérvár (cat.) (H)
Pictures on the wall, Studio Gallery, Budapest (H)
MM Gallery, Utrecht (NL)
Paper works, FMK Gallery, Budapest (cat.) (H)
Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts (cat.) (H)
Selected Group Shows
Nature as Artifice. New Dutch Landscape in Photography and Video Art; Kröller-Möller Museum,
Otterlo; Pinakothek der Moderne, München, George Eastman House, NY.
Mosaïque Programme Awards, Luxembourg (L)
Tiefebene Hochkant, Actuelle Kunst aus Ungarn, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (D)
Dutch Photography, Seoul (KOR)
Munch Revisited, Ausstellungshalle Dortmund (DE)
Constructed Moment, K4, Den Bosch (NL)
Confrontation, FOAM, Amsterdam (NL)
Confrontation, Le mois de la photo á Paris - Institut Néerlandais, Paris (FR)
Entracte, Büro für Fotos, Cologne (DE)
link, a proposal for Municipal Acquisitions; Photography, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (NL)
Drei Generationen in der ungarischen Kunst, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz (AUT)
Camera Architectura book, published by Monografik editions, Blou, text by the artist.
Liquid Horizon book, published by Büro für Fotos, Cologne and Ludwig Múzeum Budapest, text by Maria Tappeiner, Gábor Ösz.
Die Meereslandschaften des Atlantikwalls catalogue, published by Fuhrwerkswaage-Kunstraum, Cologne text by Sigrid Schneider.
Tautologies (Projections) catalogue, published by Sala Do Risco, Lissabon, text by Gábor Ösz.
WallMonochrome catalogue, published by Isván Király Múzeum, Székesfehérvár, text by Attila Csörgö, Willem Elias, Gábor Ösz.
Associations book published by Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunst, Amsterdam, text by Anna Best, Walter van der Cruijsen, Jozef van der Heijden, Gábor Ösz, Herman Pitz, Georgina Starr, Stefan Zeyen.
Pictures on the Wall, catalogue, published by István Király Múzeum, Székesfehérvár, text by Gábor Ösz.
(1984-’88), exhibition catalogue, text by Lóránd Hegyi.
The Prora Project, documentation dvd, color, 22’30”, by Maria Tappeiner, Gábor Ösz.
Liquid Horizon, documentation dvd, color, 22’, by the artist.
Traveling Landscapes, video loop, color, edition 9.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL)
Gemeentemuseum The Hague (NL)
Ludwig Museum Budapest - Museum of Contemporary Art (H)
Frac Franche-Conté (FR)
Modern Múzeum, Pécs (H)
Museum Schloss Moyland (D)
Achmea Kunstcollectie (NL)
Rabo Bank Collection (NL)
Kerstin Stremmel »Wer vieles bringt – 14. Internationale Photoszene Köln« in: Stadtrevue, September – Germany
"Garde à vue" by Bénédicte Ramade in: L'oeil n° 527 (July/August) – France
"L'Eveil du regard" by Jérome Diacre in: ArtPrésence N° 40 (October/December) – France
Gérard Terfloth »The Liquid Horizon im Grafischen Kabinett auf Schloss Moyland,
Bunker am Atlantikwall dienten Ösz als Kamera«, in: KleveKurier, 30 September 2001 – Germany
»Das Meer und der Bunker«, in: ÄrzteZeitung nr. 151, vom 29. August 2001 – Germany
Pan Emmerik: Wat de bunker zag, in NRCHandelsblad, 21 December 2001 – The Netherlands
Aden, exhibition review by Emmanuelle Lequeux in: supplement SpectacleduMonde (June 2002) – France
Exhibition review by Henri François Debailleux in: Libération (June 4 2002) – France
Exhibition review by JLA in: La plume (June 21st 2002) – France
Exhibition review by Helene Sirven in: ParisArt.com (June 2002) – France
"Gábor Ösz, le 'faire' du temps" by Michelle Debat in: Exporevue (May 2002) – France
Aden, exhibition review by Nicolas Thely in: Le Monde (March 2003) – France
"Gábor Ösz chambres avec vue" by Lars Desmakers in: L'Oeil (April 2003) – France
Susanne Boecker »Ein Naturelebnis wird touristisch vermarktet«, in: Kölner Stadtanzeiger 17/18 April 2003
Alice Koegel »Gábor Ösz – Prora Project«, in: Stadtrevue, März 2003 – Germany
Ralph Alexowitz »Gábor Ösz«, in: Prinz, März 2003 – Germany
Georg Nägele »Mit der Camera Obscura in Nazi-Ruinen«, in: Kunstmarkt.com, 14 February 2003 – Germany
»Artist vision is down to earth« in: The Gazette, Montreal, 28 August 2003 – Canada
Lyne Crevier »Bunkers sur mer« in: Ici, 18 August 2003 – Canada
Diane Charbonneau »Gabor Ösz, L’horizon Fluide in Collage« Automne 2003 – Montreal, Canada
Lavina Garulli/ Valentina Sansone: Focus Photograpy, Flash Art, October – Italy
Barbara Hess »Gabor Ösz im Büro für Fotos«, in: Kunst-Bulletin, Nr.6 – Germany
Eddy Marsman »Ruimte als fototoestel« in: NRC Handelsblad, 20 February 2004 – The Netherlands
Kerstin Stremmel »Gábor Ösz – The Liquid Horizon I & II«, in: Stadtrevue Köln, May - Germany
»Gábor Ösz: The Liquid Horizon«, in: Zoom Magazine, Nr. 62, Mai/June – Italy
Szilvia Hunyadi »Lakókocsi mint kamera; beszélgetés Ösz Gáborral« in: Müértö, November 2004 – Hungary
Somogyi Zsófia »A kép kérdéseiröl-Ösz Gábor munkáiról« in: Fotómüvészet (December 2006) – Hungary
T. Metz, M. van den Heuvel, Nature as Artifice. New Dutch Landscape in Photography and Video Art, Nai Publishers, Rotterdam 2008 – The Netherlands
U. Grosenick and T. Seelig (ed.), Photo Art, The New World of Photography, Thames & Hudson, London 2008 – UK
M. Feil, “Meanwhile…”, in: foam (Spring 2008/ #14) – The Netherlands
P. Bianchi, “Ästhetik der Fotografie”, in: Kunstforum International (Bd. 192, July-August 2008) – Germa
Galerie Loevenbruck, Paris;
Zoetendaal Collections, Amsterdam
To achieve the optical effect of black, you need colors in printing. To experience the sensation of absolute black, all three primary colors must be added. Therefore, black represents the totality of colors. However, the whiteness of paper could also indicate the presence of light, and white light could at the same time be considered the totality of colors, while black could be interpreted as the complete lack of light.
In other words, black and white each represent colors. Black is a borderline, extreme case, if you like, as is white. Separately, both represent absence, or nothingness, which is in itself the same as totality.
Black and white are cross-referential signs: they complement each other. Their joint image is the sign of yin and yang. The letter is black, the paper is white, which implies that thoughts are black and the space between them is white. But the printed text fades into grey on the paper. The shades of grey at the same time indicate the presence of both white and black, while there is no white in black, and no black in white. Grey is the sign of refraction of light; it is a transitory state between light and darkness. A room hermetically sealed from light gives people the physical sensation of blackness, which is similar to the dark chamber of a camera obscura. After the wall has been fitted with photosensitive paper, the small aperture is opened and light shines through, giving meaning to space. The walls delimiting space reflect the real, inverted image of the outside world and also determine the size of the projected image on paper.
In total darkness, a particular representation of light is created: the image and its exposure, the photosynthesis.
Interview - February, 2006
Barnabás Bencsik: You graduated as a painter at the Budapest Academy, and you went on to paint for quite some time, but later gave up traditional painting. What prompted the decision?
Gábor Ösz: Painting as a medium was increasingly unwieldy, and thanks to photography, I became interested in other materials as well. When I was attending, the Budapest Academy was very traditionalistic. I made my postgraduate studies at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, and I found its modern workshops very inspiring, and using new materials was a challenge in itself. What changed was not my approach but the method. I started making films, and installations in which the film was featured both as image and material.
B.B.: The works you made in the middle of the 1990's are defined by light, and the relationship of light and space. You were initially interested in projected images, then you turned to pure light. You were using extremely simple, minimalistic effects in those installations. Were you fascinated by the mystical, transcendental character of light? Or was it something else that encouraged you to study light, instead of the image?
G.Ö.: Both film and photography pushed me towards light; image and light became inseparable parallels for me. I wasn't so much losing sight of the image as shifting the emphasis towards the other side. Though I recently returned to film, I have different intentions. Nevertheless, I keep on examining the status of light: in Travelling Landscapes, a project relying on the relationship of still and moving images, I used the sleeping car in a train as the camera, following the principles of the camera obscura. After the window was shaded and a pinhole was made on the screen, I hung a large sheet of photographic paper in the compartment to capture the image of the speeding landscape. During exposure, I was filming the small hole with a video camera. The hole appears as a sign of light in the dark space. As I zoom in on the hole, the vision behind the hole appears, and it is identical with what is projected onto the photographic paper. In a simultaneity of two terminal points, the digital camera is recording, as it were, a double image through the hole of the camera obscura: light and its image. Later I made an endless loop of this 9-second shot, thanks to which the doubled image of reality appears as the endless exposure of a journey. This was a kind of experiment to observe the coincidence of the photographic image and the window of the train. It may have been more than a mere coincidence that trains and photography appeared almost at the same time in the 19th century. While photography provided a tool to record the technical image, the window of the train animated the passing landscape. New dimensions of visual perception opened. You could say that while the camera obscura was transformed into a technical image, the first cinematic experience was provided by the train compartment.
B.B.: What made you turn to that most archaic of analogue techniques, the camera obscura? Was it that you first found the medium and then the subject, or the other way round?
G.Ö.: When trying to find solutions for a task, technique will provide numberless answers. Form is finding the idea. It all depends on to what extent the task determines the technique, and vice versa. While formerly I was trying to find out what the image is, now I am more interested in seeing how something becomes an image. I have been studying architecture for years now, or more precisely, overlapping aspects of the view from the building and the technique of image construction. Light finds its way into a darkened space even through what may be a chance opening, and an off-focus image of the exterior is projected upon the wall. You have your camera obscura. Which is why I think the camera obscura and architecture are closely related. Architecture divides real space into two, and thanks to the window, the interior and the exterior become images for one another. Consequently windows on a building not only demarcate interior and exterior space, but also facilitate observation and focusing. The photographic camera is in fact nothing but the portable model of one's living room.
B.B.: What made you transfer your scenes to natural environments, to open space? Are you interested in the landscape, the vision of nature, for its own sake, or does it have a special meaning for you?
G.Ö.: I never really dealt with the landscape itself. What grabbed me was the bizarre contrast between the present, peaceful sight of the bunkers in the Atlantic Wall, on the one hand, and their historically determined position and the circumstances under which I make the picture, on the other. What mattered, in other words, was not the land but the fact of looking out. In the camera obscura projects there is always a natural correspondence between the site of the building and its interior.
B.B.: How did you chance upon the Atlantic Wall as a subject? To what extent were you influenced by the artistic and theoretical context that Virilio built around this complex phenomenon from the sixties on?
G.Ö.: Since I live in Amsterdam, the sea and the bunkers of the Atlantic Wall are always in sight. I have always considered them scary and bizarre. If only for a short time, these strange buildings represented Europe's face towards the sea. I had heard about Virilio's book earlier. He was the first to apply a theoretical perspective to bunker building. I wanted to follow up his ideas in my own way. I made a correspondence, for instance, between the speed of the war and the speed of the picture. Since I used extremely long exposure times in the camera obscura projects, often as long as seven or eight hours, the speed became identical, as it were, with slowness, the conditions dictated by the technology. However, I concentrated on the buildings and the potential that derives from their function, rather than the historic background. When I first climbed into one of these observation posts, I was almost blinded by the light pouring in through the thin opening. Standing there in the darkness I had the feeling I was standing inside a giant camera. It was almost necessary that the camera obscura should offer itself as the method of exploiting the building as a camera. The war called for the continuous observation of the seashore, so the bunkers tried to be invisible, covertly scrutinizing the land. It is a piece of architecture that perfectly satisfies the needs of the given form of observation.
B.B.: How and on what principles did you choose the scenes where you set up your camera obscura? What are the steps of creating a picture, and what practical problems do you have to overcome?
G.Ö.: I always choose locations that have something to do with the relationship of architecture and view, where the view is, one way or another, an integral part of the building. Like the building of the Prora on the isle of Rügen, on the northernmost tip of Germany. Even in its unfinished state, it is the longest building in Europe. It is as long as that because all rooms overlook the sea. Which is to say, it was the prospect that determined the structure of the building. I have also used a caravan, which can be considered a common multiple of the mobile home and the pocket camera. Or I used the sleeping car of a train as a camera. The project Constructed View was made in a high-rise under construction. Thanks to the technology, there were holes in the concrete cast, which enabled the use of the camera obscura technique. The image of the environment, projected into the building, comes into being as the building grows, and while the building become part of its own environment, it creates a new panorama in its own interior. Each project is a different challenge, and demands new solutions. I study the locations carefully. I have established a work method, with which it often takes years to reach the desired effect. The circumstances of creation become as inevitable a part of the picture as any error or fault. I never cut off the edges, and never intervene in any way in the creation process. I do not compose or arrange. It is the building or the location that determines the resulting picture. Since the photographic paper is exposed on location, I have done away with all intermediary stages of the process. Photography is a multiplication process, but in this case individual pieces are created, which become – as if in a strange performance without audience – iconic signs of the real view of the location.
Articles: Joan Kee (Ann Arbor) considers the problem of scale in contemporary art practice. Carla Macchiavello (Bogotá) discusses the problem of influence in Latin American art during the 1970s and 1980s. Ruben and Maja Fowkes (Budapest) examine East European artists' approaches to the natural environment during the 1970s and beyond.
In the Document section, we present two pre-revolution Iranian manifestos of modern art (introduction/translation: Bavand Behpoor).
Artist Project: Shady El Noshokaty (Cairo), Rat Diaries, a series of drawings that attempts to map the intensity of everyday life in Egypt intertwined with intuitive visual and verbal comments on art practice.
Review Article: Monica Amor (Baltimore) discusses the exhibition Cold America: Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934-1973) and Alejandro Crispiani's book Objetos para transformar el mundo: Trayectorias del arte concreto-invención, Argentina y Chile, 1940-1970 [Objects to Transform the World: Trajectories of Concrete-Invention Art, Argentina and Chile, 1940-1970].
Two independent outlets, in separate media, of one and the same publication.
PRINT: Contemporary art in a global context
Published triquarterly by the MIT Press, ARTMargins provides a forum for the discussion of postmodernism and post-colonialism, and their critiques; art and politics in transitional countries and regions; post-socialism and neo-liberalism; and the problem of global art and global art history.
Founded in 1999, ARTMargins Online publishes articles, interviews, essays, and reviews devoted to contemporary art. Unlike ARTMargins (print), ARTMargins Online has traditionally had a regional focus, central and Eastern Europe.