Ágnes Eperjesi’s work is based on over 300 soap bars, carved by hand. She received the soaps from her friends, the parents of an autistic young man, named Dávid. For many years now, day after day, Dávid has carved an intense-scent soap bar with his fingernails – and the products of his hard daily labour have become the basis of the installation.
Eperjesi works with the soaps in several ways. First, she catalogues them with the meticulousness of a museologist: she cleans them, classifies them, numbers them and makes an inventory. Then she takes black and white object photos of the artefacts, recording them in slides and on photopaper. In the third phase, Eperjesi completes the carved soap bars – restoring them to their original shape, the one they took when they were moulded in the factory. She uses concrete to fill the carves, which is in sharp contrast with the soft and frail material of the soap.
The title of the exhibition is 365 Days of D, alluding to the relationship between systematic, repetitive artistic practice, like Eperjesi’s, and Dávid’s monotonous, almost ritual daily activity, and his subjective notion of time. In line with this concept, a Kodak Carousel circular tray slide projector installed in INDA Gallery’s first room indicates time as a clockwork operating on its own set of rules: moving the inventory photos of the soaps round and round, mercilessly.
Its monotonous sound is heard in the other rooms too.
A slim strip of black and white object photos of soap bars runs around the walls of the first room.
The bars are photographed in the manner of archival documentative photography.
All the soaps are factory mass-produced, however, their surface is broken.
Broken by the traces left by Dávid’s fingernail: scratches, grooves and craters of varying depths.
The space of the second room is filled by a surreally large monolith table,
cast on location from concrete.
Arranged in a strict order of long straight rows, hundreds of hand-carved soaps lie all across the table, displaying a variety of colours and shapes.
Most of them are at a distance that makes them inaccessible for the visitors.
The carves and indents Dávid had scratched in the soaps were filled up to restore them as close as possible to their shape before Dávid’s intervention.
I used industrial concrete to fill up the carves and scratches. Concrete differs from the soft and fragile material of the soaps in all of its characteristics.
Soap and concrete are chemically incompatible,
here, however, they are joined as shapes, patterns that fit into one another.
The table leaves only half a meter for visitors to walk around, pushing them out of the space, and limiting them in their movement.