Nádas is regarded as among the greatest writers alive, but he is much less known as a photographer. Yet he started his career as a photojournalist, and continued to take pictures into the years 2000.
The 70-year-old writer has now donated more than 600 of his photos from all his creative periods (1960s to 2003) to an art museum located in the Canton of Zug in Switzerland. After the death of Nádas and his wife, Magda Salamon, the museum will obtain the negatives and the publication rights of the photos as well. To complete the collection, Kunsthaus Zug is going to purchase Nádas’s main photographic oeuvre, The Tree (2000–2001), consisting of 504 polaroids. This photographic series is related to Nádas’s book Own Death, an account of Nádas’ heart attack and his subsequent reanimation, accompanied by more than 100 photos of one single tree. (The book is available in English, in János Salomon’s translation, Göttingen: Steidl, 2006. See our review.)
The Swiss museum held an exhibition entitled In the Darkroom of Writing (1 September – 25 November), designed by Nádas himself, the first show ever to address the subject of the relationship between text and image in Nádas’s work. The photos showcased in the Kunsthaus Zug range from Nádas’s early black-and-white works, "providing insights of a documentary nature into urban and rural life in Hungary", to pictures focusing "ever more strongly on the unspectacular sides of nature and everyday life, using light and shade to find and form symbols of our existence which are as simple as they are precise and emotionally compact." Besides Nádas's own 150 photos, 200 works by 60 contemporary artists were also showcased.
The Petőfi Museum of Literature in Budapest is also paying tribute to Nádas’s photographic oeuvre with an exhibition open from 16 October, the writer’s 70th birthday. The organizers of the exhibition stress that ‘neutrality’, the expression constantly applied by Nádas to his art "is nothing but the absolving gesture of unbiased attention: modelling the visual existence of being in its unperceivable and multi-dimensional reality and making it perceivable in the two-dimensional world of photography. The task of the photographer, after all, is to have an attentive eye to the thing, to everything that comes his way, to see it and let it be seen in one way or another." The exhibition will be open until 5 February 2013.
See some of Péter Nádas's photos on his page at irolap.hu.
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