The leak gaping above us
To the exhibition of Andrea Bátorfi by Béla drMáriás
In: Élet és Irodalom (Life and Literature), 18.06.2010.
Our title allows the conclusion that we are in the depths of something, and the only way out is upwards. Obviously, I won’t talk about a flood covering the entire world, although it does help if we feel that the only way to escape is upwards, and if our body doesn’t make it because the flood is sweeping it away, at least our soul should be a lucky astronaut and escape the enormous surge of hell burgeoning beneath us. But it’s worth visiting exhibitions on rainy, floody days, too, because if all goes well, we can get an answer regarding the way out, and the way we can make the devil jump in on our window with a bunch of bills in his hands only after the good Lord has already placed the saving sum in our mailbox.
Many have tried their hands at the representation of the latter benefactor, usually with pitiful results, because the more interesting, clever, frightening the figure was, the dumber the effect became. Of course, there are exceptions, for example, there’s a shot from Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which shows nothing more than the bottom of a creek, the floating plant-bodies in the trickling water, and we feel that time has ceased and space has become infinite there, in the bottom of that pathetic little creek bed, where the universe flows in its poignant simplicity, and it has never even occured to us that we are seeing images of this world. Its proportions are only matched by the Siberian shaman drummers, who are beating their drums and yelling with full force in the pitch dark, in a cold beyond numbing, right into the face of god according to their belief in order to make sure that the smiling boss hears them and lowers the price a little bit.
Andrea Bátorfi unites these two motifs in her works. On the one hand, the base material of her works is photographed nature, the glittering water surfaces, beautiful landscape details, which appear in a single frame in several layers projected on top of each other using a multiple exposition technique, radiating a strange, otherwordly atmosphere. In her images the spatial effect is both abstract and direct: as the photos are morphing into each other, they start to operate as X-ray images, as if the old Siberian shaman has taken pictures of Tarkovsky’s creek bed: the water, the trees, the sunshine are all there, still, we don’t know what it is, although we can feel the energy emanating from it.
Although on the exterior, Andrea Bátorfi is the exact opposite of a shaman, she nevertheless travels their road. In her images, just like on the drawings etched onto the shaman drums, a lace-like pattern emerges, which operates like a light-structure developed from the depths of the soul: these are the snaphots of an unknown matrix, which she disentangles from the landscape to show us as road signs.
In her works we can follow elevation step by step. In its first phase we see images where quotations from nature grow into cathedrals of light due to the skilful work. Afterwards she starts to work with these as two-dimensional image-graphics, achieving increasingly dizzying effects, her compositions become three-dimensional, are bending into space, reach out towards the spectators and unavoidably address them, who feel that it is possible to step inside the spheres while looking at the pictures. In the third, final phase her images grow into a coherent story through animation, becoming a diary of a journey where the concave or convex landscapes endlessly merging into one another provide the sensation of an all-encompassing new space, which is unknown yet familiar, and invites us on fearsome journey.
If we manage to keep on rising during Bátorfi ’s dizzying journey, we reach the leak, which becomes almost palpable, tangible. I had the feeling that I’m hanging upside down above an ocean, perhaps I’ve fallen out of a plane, or someone has suspended me there, the heck knows. At first I am scared to death because of the unavoidable fall and the realisation of the end, then, as I start falling I am increasingly filled with satisfaction and happiness, I start wanting the end and because of this I arrive to the sky laughing, only to find myself inside the middle of the Sun after sticking my head through the strange lea