In the mid-1960s Sándor Kardos, then a student at the Academy of Film Art – today an internationally renowned Kossuth Award-winning cinematographer – decided to add some more photographs to the several thousand in the collection inherited from his father, a master photographer. He began collecting photos from acquaintances and strangers alike. Lacking money, the images were mostly ones that their donor did not consider especially valuable. They usually ended up in his possession as an alternative to simply ‘chucking them out’.
As the decades went by, the collection grew enormous. It became increasingly obvious that this mass of photos also works as a sort of analogy for completeness. That was when the name ‘Horus Archives’ was born. The choice of name was symbolic. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the eye of Horus represents the number 1, while the details of the eye are fractions decreasing towards infinity. The smallest parts are individual amateur photographs, while the totality of the pictures represents one, the whole, something divine, a special interpretation of the pictures.
Visitors to the The Flowers of Decay exhibition will be able to see how a picture goes from being a handicraft to a work of art.
Béla Hamvas gives a very simple definition of this. He believes that creating an artwork is nothing more than experiencing catharsis. This simple sentence makes no mention of preliminary artistic studies, art school or even dedication, which of course does not mean that these are all unnecessary; simply that the preparations are not the most important aspect. Rather, a specially charged, state of rapture should occur – in Hamvas’s words, catharsis – resulting in the work of art itself. A professional artist who prepares for his or her vocation may create a truly important work of art more often, but an amateur photographer capturing the events around him or her can also achieve a state of creative catharsis, perhaps unknowingly, although this still leads to the creation of an artwork, which – although rare – is by no means less valuable than the works of professional artists.
Key creative elements of the Horus pictures selected for the exhibition are errors, mistakes, decay, intentional vandalism or accidental damage. The innumerable consequences of processing errors, improper storage, mouldy, fungus-infested or damaged emulsion are basic mistakes to be avoided by the professional.
And yet, at this Horus Archives exhibition the flaws become key artistic features, expanding upon scenes that were perhaps not even thought through by the original taker of the photograph, explaining them and rendering them complete and true. This is how true catharsis, art, is created.
curator of the exhibition