József Mélyi

Flashing Light

Flashing Light

Ildi Hermann graduated from Moholy-Nagy University of Arts in 2012, but she already has a significant history in photography behind her. She started as a still photographer then participated in several exhibitions and also had her own exhibitions for her artwork. She has recently received the Special Prize of the jury in the photography competition founded in memory of Lucien and Rodolf Hervé and announced every two years.
Her photo thesis work ”Daughters” can be viewed in Bálint House until 13th January 2013.

”Mici, Daughters” (2011– ) photo series, 2012, 70 × 100 cm, giclée print

The trick might be that the light from the flash is always reflected back from something; maybe that is how the full picture comes together. The flashing light always alienates the entire scene, because it deprives the photo of its amateur and professional features at the same time: where the light is that big, it cannot be amateur, and it may not be professional where the light flashes like that. However, that is exactly the trick, not the light itself. The photos are nor amateur neither professional at the same time so they avoid the genres of documentary photo and art photo simultaneously, they become unclassifiable in a photo age wishing to put everything immediately into albums and categories. In Ildi Hermann’s ”Daughters” series the photos are well invented in their unity that seem to be momentary. Their arrangement can also be an illusion; we cannot decide subsequently about the photos what the role of the child and of the mother is in the order of requisites, spaces and objects. Furthermore this is not merely about those roles, but in parallel about the interconnected world of the model and the photographer.

”Zebra and other animals, Daughters” (2011– ) series, 2012, 50 × 70 cm, giclée print

The photos of the series entitled ”Daughters” can be deemed as the pieces of a family diary: the mother from time to time takes photos usually in the intimate environment, and captures the child together with her usual objects, toys and clothes. The diary draws up the world of a happy family. According to another interpretation however, it is not the mother, but the photographer who seeks for the moment that is directed by the model. The model plays roles, invents situations that turn into photos when lit and composed for the camera. There is a crucial difference between the two interpretations, but actually it is hard to say whether the series is about a child’s or a photographer’s world. Nevertheless, the photos pretend to be standing on the edge of reality and a child’s fairy-tale world, as if everything was very sharp, but at the same time it could be cut out with a pair of imaginary scissors and could be put together again in other pictures. When taking a closer look unlike in fairy-tales everything here is closer to reality: objects are sharply and coldly distinguished from their environment. This is rather Ildi Hermann’s photography world, not a fairy-tale crop, but a cut out from reality, leaving from a different environment and arriving in another one, but a perspective is what appears the most cruelly in the series entitled ”3 months 3 days”. In this series where the subject is absence itself, the series that through the emptiness and silence of the home environment of a family the artist knows the unprocessability of the death of an infant is presented in a shattering way. Maybe originating exactly from this excision of people and objects ”Daughters” also has a tragic overtone, because the idea of transience sits on everything. Behind the feeling – which is really rather a feeling than the result of the analysis deriving from the image elements of the photo – Ildi Hermann’s previous series created about her own serious disease is also involuntarily present, where the reference point for life was also marked by the child. In certain photos of ”Daughters” life appears, a lit piece of childhood, floating with ease and in vivid colours.

”Rozi with animals, Daughters” (2011– ) series, 2012, 70 × 100 cm, giclée print

Looking at it from the perspective of life, the series is centred around roles, the garments and poses that are put on in a home milieu. These role settings, after having frozen into a photo become the ironic gestures of appearance where the child’s sincerity is pushed aside by the poses of the adult world. Imagine the same settings with adults. The animal figures arranged under the hair floating in the water would not refer to playfulness, but the decomposing imagination, the queen costume would evoke the grotesque contrast of desires and reality and the coat pulled over the head would be the psychological presentation of isolating from the world. The photos series would immediately transform by replacing the subject and would be broadened by psychological content with a serious and tragic overtone. The child, while being the irreplaceable main character in the picture, in a certain form still carries in herself the tension of time since viewers involuntarily substitute and feel into these cold photographs. Maybe they do it, because the tiny toy animals that appear several times, at times floating on the water, other times lined up on the edge of the tub, then arranged as a life scene in the children’s room totally throw over the order of dimensions. They are lifelike and small, their movement seems to be directed somewhere and this way they fill the space with life. Next to them the child is also carved into a new reality: she becomes big. Although of course in this fairylike world there is no obvious order of dimension or story to be revealed, not even linearity, we only see the mere time deprived of its stories.

”Trousers in the tub, Daughters” (2011– ) series, 2012, 40 × 50 cm, giclée print

There is a timeless photo that stands out. In a foggy landscape, probably during an excursion the child is standing in the forefront and behind her in a loosely grouped as if they were arriving towards the camera there are six adults, men and women in the fog. This picture is a little bit like the closing scene in Pál Sándor’s famous movie, ”Football of the Good Old Days”, where Minarik is the only one moving and making his way among the frozen people waiting at the train station. Everywhere he passes by certain key players of his life who are standing there like in a wax museum. In Ildi Hermann’s eerie and at the same time also intimate picture there is also this intergenerational time travel and the wax museum effect, while movement is replaced by the simple highlight of the little girl. A picture that can actually be composed by anyone unfolds from the fog, which suddenly receives a complex meaning in the context of the series and may place in a wider time dimension the other photos that at first sight seem to only depict the child’s world.

“Hajni with a cat, Daughters” (2011– ) series, 2012, 50 × 70 cm, giclée print

The dimension leap, the duality, the substitution in time and the tension arising from it is of course up to the receiver. It is up to how much they immerse into this world the pictures of which are familiar and never seen before at the same time. Because Ildi Hermann is capable of what only the best photographers can do: she creates photos that have not existed before.

”Family in the fog, Daughters” (2011– ) series, 2012, 70 × 100 cm, giclée print

József Mélyi

Art Magazine, 2012/06. 

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