Gallery F7 Month of Photography Bratislava, Slovakia 6.11. – 29.11. 2015
Zuzana Pustaiová is mostly devoted to staged photography. Her first more significant project, called Trivial Stories (2012), won several national and international awards. Although she is a student at the Academy of Fine Arts, it is already evident that she is turning into a significant and authentic artist. At a time when contemporary art is fundamentally intellectualised or engaged in civic activism; the author develops, independently of these tendencies, her own stories with autobiographical traits. Through image construction she creates diverse narrative worlds that are able to draw us into the action. Similar to literature, the content is often based on fanciful stories. The unique phenomenon of such staged art is our personal experience of the given story. This experience is extremely authentic and independent.
A characteristic feature of Zuzana Pustaiová’s photography is humour, which seems to stand in opposition to the more rational or more philosophical artistic expression. The lightness of humour or mild absurdity are, however, a very efficient way of naming certain phenomena around us. Not only does this approach help to free us from the heaviness of troubled times, but at the same time, it can easily identify the paradoxes of our time. In the photographic series Each Country – Its Customs, the author creates situations in which she combines folklore motifs and traditional lifestyle with the contemporary lifestyle. We live in a time when individual nations are again turning back to their traditions and identities, so as to distance themselves from mass production, consumerism and the globalised world. In these photographs we can see figures dressed in traditional clothing and placed in an uncluttered landscape scene, unaffected by the visual sediments of today, but the representatives of today’s world attributes are, at a glance, the tiny details of the individual scenes. Equipment for; mobile telecommunications, solar power, yoga or diving brings into the photographs the mentioned humorous context, that is relatively seriously meant. The photographs are a kind of amusing dialogue based on two parallel worlds. At the same time, we could interpret the series itself as a „return to Romanticism“; not only through the situations in the images, and their inclination towards the world which is already long past, but also through the impossibility of achieving equilibrium between the past and the present and through the real non-existence of such a world.
Zuzana Pustaiová finds inspiration for her stories not only in her own family background, but also in ethnographic and portrait photography. At the same time, she updates these visual and cultural foundations with current interventions.
An important final note is that the author personally enlarged the majority of the silver bromide photographs; both the larger and smaller formats.