The artistic career of Ágnes Eperjesi began in the early 1990s. The works in her oeuvre are based, among other things, on two phases of taking photographs that are specific to the analogue method, and have been eliminated by digital technology.
These phases usually remain hidden from users who do not develop their photos themselves but have them developed in commercial photo-laboratories. However, for artists who have an empirical knowledge of the entire process from their own practice, these phases of shaping the picture are full of mystery and excitement, and they determine the eventual image.
One of these two phases is the time between shooting and developing, the other is the latency period. The latency of the picture on the photochemical material, the aspect of the image stored on the film that remains hidden and also holds surprises is the staring point of Előjelek / Omens (1991) , a successful experiment by Ágnes Eperjesi and Tibor Várnagy published in the form of a photography album. The formal and associative rhyming of the images was inspired not only by the sensible and playful desire to find out about each other but also by the brief instruction about how to develop the latent image.
Eperjesi stretched the latency of the photographic image to the extreme in the work she presented in exhibition titled Rejtőzködő / Hiding, which was an exposed but undeveloped photograph (Mese a láthatatlan képről / Tale of the invisble picture). In the Tale of the clever girl, which accompanies the work, the curator takes the exposed photo out of the black envelope and destroys it immediately. This gesture of elimination renders paradoxically visible a phase of the emergence of the image that is basic, yet, has vanished from everyday practice.
With her method of stretching the boundaries of photography through the act of enlargement, which determined her works for a long time, Eperjesi directs our attention to yet another part of the methodology of photography that is usually neglected. Her cycles of recycled photographs are blow-ups of pictograms from transparent cellophane packaging she collected in the 1990s. Instead of using a camera to make exposures, the artist uses a transparent found image as a photonegative, and as a result of placing it in the enlarger and enlarging it, the colours are also inverted. The dual nature of photography can also be grasped here, emerging from the tension of automatism and agency, objective accentuation and subjective overwriting. Furthermore, two types of artistic attitude, usually believed to be conflicting, are in unity in the resulting images. One of them is the subservient acceptance of the ready-made visual state of the world, while the other is radical artistic subversion, which turns the positive views of images into negatives. But what determines what we recognise as a representation with ’natural’ colours? How is it decided which ’trace’ of the world we regard as positive or negative?
Eperjesi introduces visual phenomena into the realm of photography without camera exposure, by way of putting them in the enlarger, or considering what she does from a different angle, she extends the photographic method radically to include everyday phenomena. The spreading presence of photography in culture becomes clearly perceptible here – the indispensable function of photography, which permeates our cultural practices, including art, is manifest. The outdatedness of the questioning of photography’s artistic status becomes obvious, although sometimes it still comes up today. The question is not whether photography is art but that if photography is a paradigmatic method fully permeating cultural practices, including art, then how it influences our view of art, and, through art, of the world.
… the viewer’s playful, sometimes sublime, and always subjective inner experience is not equivalent with the kind of communication that figural representation, based on the depiction of shared everyday world of phenomena and experiences, can inspire. Observations and attitudes that follow from the equalizing effect of photography, that is, the democratisation of the creation and perception of images, also play a part in cultivating photographic imaging. In Tibor Gyenis’ work it takes the form of avoiding the arrogance of the subjectivity of the painter’s signature, while Ágnes Eperjesi emphasises the practicality and humbleness of accepting optically graspable and recordable, basically ready-made visual elements.