The works of Zsófia Szemző are simultaneously characterized by the proliferation of colours and materials, the encounter of practical knowledge and conceptual approach, the intertwining of ritual and pragmatic actions, and the entanglement of traditional and future-oriented thinking.

Zsófia Szemző: Byproduct
Curated by Judit Csatlós and Anna Juhász
20 June – 20 July 2018.
Hidegszoba Studio, Budapest

Zsófia Szemző's Byproduct exhibition evokes objects and everyday practices of cultures that are remote from each other in time and space. Natural forms are moulded from clay, and the modified ceramic copies of utensils are not able to fulfil their original task, yet their visible reparations imply that someone did make an attempt at using them nonetheless. In the collages, human figures merge with plants, stalagmites, household appliances and buildings; an identity card replaces its owner’s face. Derelict hands and heads float in space, in search of new connections. Like the cut-out figures in the collages, the artist herself appears in surprising contexts in the videos: she cleans a rocky hillside with a toothbrush; overbalances herself from a stool in a meadow; climbs up a tree and then pushes away the ladder that helped her.

In this strange universe, the collection of simple mistakes and expectations, unfamiliar pragmatic tools and artificially created natural forms appear as remnants of mental structures that enigmatically encapsulate their meaning and context. Deprived of their meanings, they offer themselves to our desires, imagination and empathy, therefore we unexpectedly enter into dynamic relations with them. In these new hybrid formations, elements of diverse origins are collectively reformulated in a way that they still carry the tensions stemming from their distinctness.

Zsófia Szemző assiduously examines the momentary relationships between humans and their surroundings: when do they decide to hold on to something, in spite of its futility? When do they give up on something that seems to work well? She focuses on the tension that arises between the imagined ideal solution and the unwanted side effects of the realization. She highlights the risk factors and principles of uncertainty that we have to face during the everyday use of our culture and our environment.

Vimeo link of one of the works included in the exhibition:


Photo: Aliz Török