Now and Then: Between Layers of Memory

A project by Iosif Király, at Castrum Peregrini, 23rd Nov 2012-7th Feb. 2013. Curated by Maria Rus Bojan.

Now and Then: Between Layers of Memory is a project in two episodes that presents Iosif Király’s ongoing photographic investigation on the dialectical relation between history, architecture and collective identity. The first part of the project consists of a selective presentation of Király’s most famous series – generically entitled “Reconstructions”, works that were recently featured in solo shows at Camera Austria, Kunsthaus Graz (2010), and also in two consecutive exhibitions within Photo Espana, in Cuenca (2009) and Madrid (2011). For the second part of the project, during his residency at Castrum Peregrini in Amsterdam, Király will produce a new work, to be displayed in the foundations “hiding place”, the famous third floor of the building Herengracht 401, where many persecuted youngsters found shelter during the WWII, and which later became an intellectual playground for many generations of Dutch and international artists, writers and philosophers. Trained primarily as an architect, and holding a PhD in visual arts, Iosif Király (born in 1957) is considered one of the most important Romanian artists of his generation. Since 1992 he is an Associate Professor at the National University of Arts Bucharest, where in 1995 he co-founded the Department of Photography and Time-based Media Art. From 1990, Király has been involved in various art projects, individually and in the art group subREAL. Since 2000, he has collaborated with a team of architects for a photo-documentary project on the changes in daily life and urban environment in post-communist Romania.

Like the metaphor of the “longue durée”, a concept launched by the French historian Fernand Braudel and The Annales School, the spatial coherence of Kiraly’s reconstructed images highlights the timeless continuity of all those mental and environmental structures of society that imperceptibly determine the course of the history and a specific cultural identity.
Outlining that architecture and landscape are crucial components in shaping collective memory and in creating and reflecting identities. Király’s “Reconstructions” speak of the need to resist the erasure of history, through a process that emotionally conserves the artist’s most intense remembrances about people and places. Composed by images taken from the same location and approximately from the same vantage point at different moments (minutes, days, even months or years later), these “reconstructions” articulate a multilayered visual field where each snapshot acts as a byte of information and memory. The result is a spatially coherent meta-picture in which, at a closer look, all the historical iscontinuities and ideological breaks are visible.
In various ways and to different extents, Király’s works, which subtly combine humor and melancholy, inform on these key aspects that subliminally work in the collective consciousness of a city, a region or a country, archiving the very process of creation of identity: from the past memory to the present existence and opening up future horizons.’

Text available here.