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“It’s not about the architecture”: Anikó Robitz and Károly Minyó Szert

INTERVIEW! Taking Bauhaus as a starting point, photographer Robitz and visual artist Szert have come together to present a selection of their work at the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin’s galleries in Light | Form | Photogram – Bauhaus Reductions.

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Photo by Krisztina Turna, © CHB

Hungarian artists Anikó Robitz and Károly Minyó Szert are both well known in their home country for their photographic practices (whether a documentary approach or a more artistic one). Taking Bauhaus as a starting point, they have come together to present a selection of their work at the Collegium Hungaricum Berlin with the title Light | Form | Photogram – Bauhaus Reductions, on through June 15: displaying Szert’s geometric abstractions on wooden panels using his unique “photogram” technique alongside Robitz’s delicate photographic prints of architectural details. 

You’ve timed this show to coincide with the Bauhaus centennial, how does the work relate to Bauhaus?

Anikó Robitz: For me, I’m dealing with architectural forms, very small parts of buildings in my photographs; the details of walls and wires, things like that. They are usually geometric details and that is where the Bauhaus comes in. I usually work with these lines, circles and squares. It’s existing work I had, not specially conceived as an homage to Bauhaus. My works are digital prints and Minyó made the wooden plates.

Károly Minyó Szert: I made new works for this exhibition, full analogue photography and handmade photography. I also created one during the opening of the exhibition as a performance. It is a photogram, a common photogram because it was made in a performance at the opening with Anikó.

AR: I held this circle and triangle and Minyó was pedalling and a light was projected from the bike onto the panel. Minyó invented this bicycle light performance and this is the first time we have done a work like this together. He does it for the opening of a lot of his exhibitions, but it was new for me.

You are both described as photographers, is that an adequate description?

AR: I would say I’m a photographer and Minyó, while also a photographer, is rather an artist.

KMS: I am a fine artist, handmade photographer, bike light performer, I have many titles, but really I am the old guy!

Minyó, how did you make the photograms in this exhibition?

KMS: With panels of wood treated to make them light sensitive and then I place found objects in front of them to make geometric shapes. I also use a brush to make hard strokes. I combine the background with metal plates. It’s all a play with the light. And they are absolutely unique, each one. I create them in a darkroom in my studio. It’s a process I invented myself, I don’t know anybody who is making anything like this. I can use any objects to make them, I feel my photograms are a very free field – I use kitchen plates and also special papers that I cut into shapes. And the results are almost like a Rorschach test – or maybe a Minyó’s test!

Anikó, are your photographs here all of architectural elements?

AR: Yes, they are of defects in buildings, and if there are renovations, these defects of course disappear. If you look very closely you can see the textures and there are mistakes, some spots. The important element for me is that they are all real. They show the architectural cladding on new buildings. One is from an art university in the south of France, another is a music hall in Los Angeles…

We can’t see the whole building in your photographs, what were they like?

AR: Some were really ugly, but I think the details I have taken look good.

You haven’t named the buildings or their architects, why is that?

AR: It’s not about the architecture or the architect, it’s about the parts and the forms. When I choose these forms and the textures and make something new with them. The building is not important, only in the way that I use it. It is the forms and the lines that interest me. One of the works here is part of a cable car in Lisbon and has black circles that are maybe the most Bauhaus. I don’t know what the circles are for. I took this photo in 2008 and a few years ago I went back and tried to find them again. The cable car still exists but I couldn’t find the circles again.

Why did you work with black and white here?

AR: Because usually the buildings are in black, or white, or grey so you can leave them in-between the whites and blacks. I don’t make any adjustments to the colours.

Will we get another chance to see the bicycle performance?

KMS: Possibly at the closing – *hint, hint*.

Light | Form | Photogram – Bauhaus Reductions: Anikó Robitz and Károly Minyó Szert, through Jun 15 | Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, Dorotheenstr. 12, Mitte