Contextual research – After effects of soviet rule, in photographs

Tamas Deszo is a young Hungarian photographer, working to document the people, places and moments left in the wake of Soviet rule. He works with a medium format camera resulting in deep, rich, black & white square photographs capturing tiny memories of his country that encapsulate the mood and lives of his peers and their homes.
Although his photographs focus on a harsh reality, some feel almost fantastical. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to hear they were posed ‘stories’. When the viewer is cure they are not however the eeriness is all the more powerful. His clever composition, almost painterly, isolates his subjects both in terms of the frame and context.

Tamas Deszo

Christopher Herwig came a across the subject of his work by accident, during his journey cycling from London to St Petersburg, 12 years ago. Along the way he began to notice the extravagant bus shelters, a peculiar relic from Soviet Union era. The series features 13 former Soviet states: Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Estonia, and the disputed region of Abkhazia. Whilst the communist philosophy prioritised functional architecture it would appear this was not the case with the bus shelters and many artists were commissioned, with no restrictions in terms of funding or design.

Chris Herwig’s Soviet bus stops 

Although these two artists have produced work with parallels in their themes the end results are starkly different. Herwig, as an outsider, celebrates the unique jewels left behind as a gentler, silver-lining type perspective. In contrast there is Deszo’s work. Understandably, as someone who lived through that troubled time, and has witnessed first hand the after effects on his country, his images have a much darker tone. Yet here too there is beauty to be found, a great credit to the creative eye of Deszo, seeking out these compositions in his decaying and foggy world.

A common thread that ties them together despite these differences is the unique perspective on aspects of life that many would overlook. The ability to identify beauty in the ignored and everyday. By preserving their vision in photographs the viewer may witness the world through their eyes and the subject is given the consideration it may rarely have been afforded before.


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