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Scenes Of Everyday Life, With A Touch Of The Surreal

What to make of Bence Bakonyi’s curiously levitating subjects?

Depending on how you look at it, still life photography can be thoroughly honest or just the opposite. The objects involved are often as plain and real and plainly real as they come–bowls, maybe, or flowers or furniture–but turning them into an interesting photographic subject often involves some sort of intervention, like a careful arrangement or precise lighting. Are these types of images authentic? Or invented? Here, Bence Bakonyi finds the space between the two and drives a nice thick wedge into it.

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The series, entitled Nameless, shows a handful of strange moments frozen in time. In each, the objects in the frame are commonplace–subjects include purple bouncy balls, house plants and crumbled pieces of foil–but the scenes they’re in are ever so slightly fantastic. In some, objects levitate. In others, things seem to be in the middle of falling apart, apparently on their own accord.


Another series by Bakonyi, Floating, deals more expressly with levitating subject matter, though in the case of those pictures the unmoored subjects are people. The result is a set of photographs that are immediately and obviously unreal. People don’t float. But here things are a bit more ambiguous. Maybe that plant just dropped from the ceiling. But who dropped it? And why was it up there?

The images in Nameless can be viewed either as unusually mundane scenes from some dream world or especially fantastic moments from our own waking one, and an accompanying blurb calls them “unsolvable.” In any event, the Hungarian photographer says that when it came time to shoot, these were easier to capture than the levitating people. It’s easy to drop a plant; not so much a model. The real difficulty here came in conceiving the images in the first place. Conjuring up the ideas for these slightly strange moments was a “complex task,” Bakonyi says. “Hard to imagine in my head.”

See more of Bakonyi’s work here.

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