Csilla Szabó: Symmetry
Seeking symmetry – that sense of harmony and proportion – in the inner and outer world is a primordial instinct. It is that law of nature which, from time to time can emerge in both positive and negative forms and in any walk of life – be it visual or abstract – sometimes even when we least expect it.
The more symmetrical something is, the more pleasing it becomes to the senses. Yet, as these senses are subjective, the sensation of symmetry does not necessarily equate to perfect symmetry. Seeking that balance is a constant battle, and just as I sense it appearing, it can almost as quickly fade away. I am then left with no choice but to seek it out once again. I become absorbed in this flurry of internal movement, trying to remain calm, focused and studious, all the while hopeful of rediscovering the prize.
My fortune lies in the fact that I am a photographer and with my camera and darkroom work I can either immediately capture this effect, or, by the use of some tricks, I can recreate it. I am able to develop my own perfect world of tranquility, order, charm and balance, a world to which I can always retreat into for as long as I want.
My working method is essentially divided in three ways:
Sometimes in a photograph I am provided with a symmetrical gift by nature or a man-made, nature-mimicking hand. This might not always provide perfect inner reflection but it can be close enough for the forgiving eye to appreciate. Furthermore, the tiny discrepancies can carry added content and lend individual charm.
At other times, I look to mirror the same picture, intuitively realising that the image can create its own symmetry. By turning, mirroring and inverting the same photograph, I begin to instinctively realise that the picture can create its own symmetry. Placing things next to each other, forcibly turning and stretching the subject, one can see inside and out at the same time.
Alternatively, I can also glue two different pictures together if I feel they are a match and somehow belong together or complement each other so that only when joined can they form an entire entity.
Every step of my work is carried out in analog form. I develop my own negatives while I also mirror, cut and paste them. I then enlarge, flatten and retouch the final prints. The photographs are large in scale – the excessive enlargement, apart from being pleasing on the eye, also puts the aspect of ‘seeking perfection’ under a magnifying glass. This adds to the overall result and demonstrates that small mistakes like scratches or other imperfections do not necessarily lessen the outcome but can, in fact, add to the final result by turning it into personal and unique journey.
About the artist:
Csilla Szabó, fine art photographer and analog b&w printer, born in Budapest, lives and works in Berlin.
After studying photography in Budapest, she moved to Berlin in 2007, where she has been the apprentice of fine-arts photographer Jeff Cowen for many years. While there, she was trained in the art of traditional silver black and white printing of large format photographs on a masterful level, including numerous alternative processes. She then became a professional printer; in the last years she has printed for international artists and their exhibitions, and she also conducts printing and portfolio workshops in the darkroom in Berlin.