Notes for an Epilogue and Here, Anywhere are on-going bodies of work depicting a time of transition in rural Romania and across Hungary following the fall of Communism in the late 1980s, by the Hungarian photographer Tamas Dezso. Born in Budapest in 1978, Dezso began his career as a photojournalist before deciding to focus on his own work examining Eastern Europe at a time of major political change as the Soviet Union collapsed, memorably taking with it the totalitarian rule of Nicolae Ceauescu in Romania.
The end of the oppression and state control of the Communist regimes was however followed by disappointment and stagnation as economic modernisation failed to bring prosperity. Unemployment soared while migration and social change led to the rise of far-right groups, leading to feelings of misplaced nostalgia for the certainties of life under the old regime.
Says Dezso: “Having grown up experiencing the influence of Soviet power on everyday life and interpreting its intellectual and social after-effects as an adult, I decided to record the hidden realities of both countries as they hover on the borderline between East and West. Notes for an Epilogue aims to capture the sense of isolation, disillusionment, patience and hope those in the region feel as customs and rituals passed down the generations are rapidly vanishing and many are left to survive on the dwindling resources left behind by the old regime.”
Avoiding a direct documentary approach, Dezso imbues his images with atmosphere, making use of muted palettes and winter scenery. Dilapidated factories symbolise the psychological and physical condition of former workers and a yearning for the stability of previous times. Traditional costumes, particularly in his photographs of Romania, allude to the failure of successive governments in creating a new economic and social vision. He is not offering portraits of a nation but rather an examination of the ruins of the Soviet era, their effects on villages, communities and individuals and the slow disappearance of centuries-old traditions.
This is the first UK exhibition of Dezso’s work, following his much lauded presentation at Unseen, Amsterdam in 2014.
His work is being shown in the Print Sales Gallery at The Photographers’ Gallery, which supports the gallery’s public programme through sales of contemporary, modern, vintage, rare and limited edition fine art prints.
Tamaz Dezso, until 14 June, Print Sales Gallery, The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London. For more information visit www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
1. Dump (Near Aiud, West Romania), 2012, from the series Notes for an Epilogue. Courtesy of the artist and The Photographers’ Gallery.