Recollecting Home: Gabor Szilasi's photographs of Exile and Return

by Sharon Murray
Sharon Murray writes this article with a focus on how Gabor Szilasi has used the practice of photography to make sense of and find familiarity in his experiences.
The article provides biographical information on Szilasi and a brief description of the context in which he first developed his photography practice. This information, specifically his immigration to Canada, is thought to have had a significant effect on Szilasi’s approach; Murray suggests Szilasi’s difficult early experiences may explain why he uses the medium of photography to record the present before, as he understands well, it inevitably changes.
Using events in Szilasi’s life as a framework, the author interprets his images. Szilasi’s early life in Hungary, his move and integration into Canada, and his return to Budapest are the main points considered. The article notes similarities in photographs Szilasi made in Budapest and in Quebec City. To Murray, these similarities demonstrate Szilasi’s inclination to photograph a particular, and familiar, subject as a means to adjust to a new environment, in this case Quebec. Szilasi’s photos from his return to his birth country continue to show this, but, in added complexity, express an effort to reconcile memories of a once-known environment which is now changed.
Murray presents a view of Szilasi’s work that disputes a singularly documentarian, rational style of photography. Instead, the article works to reveal the socio-psychological function of his work.
Sharon Murray is a photo historian and academic at Dalhousie University.
Murray, Sharon. ‘Recollecting Home: Gabor Szilasi’s photographs of Exile and Return.’ Ciel variable 73, (September 2006): 32-33.
Review by Lindsay Mamchur
July 2019
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