Júlia Standovár second solo exhibition at TOBE Gallery in Budapest.

Júlia Standovár: Everyday Dilemmas
Curated by: Emese Mucsi
May 25 - June 24, 2023
TOBE Gallery, Budapest


“But beyond self-care and the ability to (really) listen, the practice of doing nothing has something broader to offer us: an antidote to the rhetoric of growth. In the context of health and ecology, things that grow unchecked are often considered parasitic or cancerous. Yet we inhabit a culture that privileges novelty and growth over the cyclical and the regenerative. Our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new, whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive in the same way.”
― Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy


We’ve got to the point that now we also have to learn how to do nothing – or rather, to have the nerve to idle without feeling idleness as a waste of time, without worrying about not getting work done, not studying, and not catching up with the news every five minutes. In this era of information overload where social media and smartphones make business out of people’s attention, five minutes is the new forty-five minutes, the new unit of measurement indicating the timespan for which a person can focus on a thing. Luckily, it’s not fifteen seconds as the social media platforms predicted, who also see a surge in demand for more ample 5 to 10-minute contents these days.

Júlia Standovár’s work Everyday Dilemmas relates quotidian failures, the difficult state of mind behind decision-making, and various other forms of anxiety importuning us. Within this context, the opening image of the series deals with the above-stated five-minute span. The 5 minute rule, brought up in a therapy session, refers to a simple method useful in everyday life. The point is that if you have a hard time starting the day, or if you don't feel motivated enough to get out of the bed, then you may do an experiment by choosing one task from your daily to-do list, and set a goal to do it only for five minutes straight. If you still struggle after five minutes, go back to bed (if you can), but if you catch the vibe, you might almost finish the task when you realize that the five minute goal set out was long past. It’s a nice thing to know that even such small amount of time as five minutes can give meaning to an entire day. We usually think about deadlines, weekly calendar pages, and also the wristwatch as regulators and restricting barriers in our way, and rarely consider the fact that as every barrier we can hold on to them as well.

The photos of Everyday Dilemmas are built from the patterns and routines worn out by endless repetition during the cabin-fevered COVID period. Recently, we talk so little about that our lives were in imminent danger in the coronavirus epidemic, and close to nothing about its psychological toll on us, despite we clearly sense that something has changed. Isolation, inactivity, and boredom had an extremely bad effect on the lonely, many experienced an episode of depression, and the condition of those who have anxiety issues deteriorated. Some survived the quarantine only by resorting to alcohol, antidepressants, or other mind-altering substances. Due to being omnipresent in social media newsfeeds, these troubles did not even have to directly involve us to feel mortal fear and other configurations of angst, and the repercussions of these experiences stayed with us to this day. This means a state of mind that inflates things and in which making the tiniest decision seems to have life-affecting consequences. In the dilemma of taking a hot bath or a shower, we see five minutes of intense happiness versus the future of the planet at stake. A moldy peach in the kitchen can remind us of our ephemeral existence. On certain days, we may even start to cry over spilt water. But the bad mood could also fly away in a second if we step out the door to see somebody or something smile at us.

Emese Mucsi - Curator of the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center

Translated by Zsuzsanna Bodóné Hofecker