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Ábel Szalontai: Starry Bay

Visiting is free of charge
June 09, 2021 – August 08, 2021
Tuesday – Friday 2pm – 7pm
Weekend 11am – 7 pm
Closed on Monday and on public holidays.
Capa Center – Project Room
Curator: Gellér Judit

I shall wander along the road
of endless Milky Way
for a star in the sea of stars,
and rest in starry bay.

written by Gábor Pintér
translated by Viktor Horváth

The exhibition by Szalontai titled Starry Bay features select photos from a series of photographs that span several decades. The photographs and short, moving images installed in lightboxes depict the world of seas and ports, and the stories of those living there and passing through.

Szalontai captures the fascinating and perceptible encounters between water and the coast, whether they take place along the shores of photogenic Iceland, crowded Shanghai, Greece’s popular Corfu, Romania’s peaceful Sulina, or in large industrial or port cities like Gdan´sk in Poland or Dublin in Ireland. Starry Bay is the collection compiled by Ábel Szalontai. Waves that ease off, ripples, splashes, and stormy waters. Gazes scanning the skyline. Buoys, fishing nets, and hulls. Awaiting favorable weather conditions so that the ships can leave port. Sailors, fishermen, islanders, passersby. The harbor is the place for encounters and goodbyes, arrivals and departures. Misty, sunny, night- and snow-covered shores. There is constant buzzing, regardless of the time of day.

At the same time, the harbor is also a recreational, strategic, administrative, and economic hub, a place for battles, exchanges, and trade. The cargo of ships arriving from long voyages and foreign lands is stacked on top of each other in large, unremarkable containers and barrels with exotic goods hidden within. Traditionally, depictions of ships go back thousands of years, starting with hieroglyphics in Egyptian papyrus scrolls to the galleys represented in Greek vase paintings, to the almost entirely accurate depictions of our age by Renaissance masters, and finally to photographic representations. With time, the galleys decorated with paintings and carvings gave way to the multi-masted caravels serving during the Age of Discovery and colonization, and nowadays the ports are filled with heavy steel hulls, gigantic cruisers and liners. Navigation begins and ends with reaching the shore.

“Near the sea, looking at the horizon, immersed in the crowded or desolated world of ports, I always find that somehow everything is about the past there. The present is the eternal cycle of the repeated past. It is here that memories become more important here, the past is more important than the future. In addition, I feel a sense of inclusion and acceptance on the islands, perhaps because those living there remember that they came from somewhere else as well. Harbors are seaside havens, resting places for the mind, which ages slower there than the body,” says the photographer about his images.

Ábel Szalontai’s photographs are merely a small slice of a vast visual repository of water. The quiet in his photographs create tension: the abundance of symbols, the endless skyline, the small details of harbor life make these invisible stories visible.

Judit Gellér
curator

Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel
Szalontai Ábel: részlet a Csillagöböl című sorozatból, 2001–2021 | Ábel Szalontai: from the Starry Bay series, 2001–2021 © Szalontai Ábel

Ábel Szalontai, Balogh Rudolf Award-winning photographer, was born in Budapest in 1972. He completed his Visual Communication studies at the Hungarian University of Arts and Design in 1998. Following the university years and five years of working as a freelancer, he became the studio manager at the Photography Department of the university in 2003, a design instructor in 2004, Head of Photography at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in 2006, and Head of the Media Institute in 2014. He received his doctorate in 2013, obtained habilitation in 2019, and presently he works as an Associate Professor. He was a member of the Studio of Young Photographers, the Studio of Young Applied Artists, and the Association of Hungarian Photographers. His work has been supported and awarded via numerous fellowships, including the Pécsi József Photography Grant (1997, 1998), the Andre Malraux Fellowship, the Nancy Grant (2004), and he also received the Balogh Rudolf Award in 2015. He participates in and organizes numerous international symposiums, workshops, and exhibitions. His works have been regularly showcased at solo and group exhibitions since 1998. In his work as an artist and teacher, he is mostly interested in exploring various phenomena through vision, and he researches the visual and narrative interrelations of the freedom of thought based on cooperation.

The artist would like to thank David Barreiro, Virág Csejdy, Györgyi Falvai, Gergő Gosztom, Simone de Greef, Gábor Arion Kudász, Gabriella Nagy, Attila Pálfalusi, Stuart Richardson, Sigrún Alba Sigurðardóttir as well as the Benedek és Tsa Kft. , the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and the Tripont Kft. for their help in producing the exhibited artworks.