One of the shortlisted photographers for this year’s competition at Festival de Hyères, Ladocsi connects with human emotion and the concept of time during a trip through Australia.
This article was first published in the May 2020 issue of British Journal of Photography, The Modern Nude.
Last year, the Hungarian photographer András Ladocsi travelled through Australia with a group of friends, taking pictures along the way. The journey, it would be fair to say, aroused controversial feelings. “The whole trip,” Ladocsi recalls, “was interesting and boring at the same time. I became really sad and depressed. I was disappointed by the people, and what was there. European people go there with a vision of a higher quality of life. But they don’t know what they should do with their lives — so they end up just drinking and doing shitty work.”
Forestry is one such line of work. A pair of Ladocsi’s images show the face of a friend painted an unearthly ultramarine with the dye used to mark the trees condemned to felling. Another of his pictures shows the ossifying corpse of a bird, expressive of the sense of stasis that Ladocsi found in the country. He used just 10 rolls of film over his six-month journey, and many of the photographs he shot have a soft, sun-kissed palette.
Several feature a cropped or partial perspective: a part of a sign, a concatenation of corrugated fences and constructions sprawled across a barren landscape, a man’s foot and shin perched on the sand while his hand reaches down to inspect some scrapped computer hardware. These clipped views make one aware of Ladocsi’s subjective perspective, his single pair of eyes. “I think my pictures aren’t talking about Australia, but they’re talking about this trip itself,” he says.
Ladocsi is one of the shortlisted photographers for this year’s competition at Festival de Hyères, which will run from 15-19 October at Villa Noailles in the South of France. The aura of alienation that emanates from the Australian series [below] contrasts with the emotional directness present in many of Ladocsi’s previous works, though they continue his practice of drawing from his personal life and experiences; his first project depicted his sister, who has Down’s syndrome.
The series Swallow, exhibited in 2018 at Budapest’s Supermarket Gallery, sprang from Ladocsi’s youth as a professional swimmer, a time marked by twice-a-day training sessions and trips to rural sports camps. Suffused with pearly, pastel tones, these pictures evoke both rigid routine and spontaneous moments of bodily contact. Grappling wrestlers mingle violence and affection. Even the natural world – a pair of pears, a tree trunk — becomes anthropomorphic.
Throughout Ladocsi’s practice, there is a propensity to capture an exact unit of time: a tear about to drop off a face, a swimmer’s cheek momentarily skimming the water, a point of suspension in a pas de deux. “Time is my main interest,” he says. “I think every artistic medium uses time in a different way.” This is reflected in his preference for shooting with analogue film and producing hand-made prints, making each one the product of an intimate, time-consuming process. “I like to create feeling in my photographs,” he says. Tactile, sensorial and often sensual, Ladocsi’s work surges with human connection.