Reka Reisinger

In my work I use the process of photography as an attempt to better understand my existence in the context of the world around me. As an artist, the 4×5 camera gives me temporary purpose in situations I might otherwise have no place in and allows me to experience the physicality of my surroundings in an intimate way. In the following works I use two radically different photographic approaches to reflect on my identity both as a subject and a viewer.
The first series of photographs document my experience of Hungary, with a focus on the small town where my family is from and where I was living for the past two years. The images depict how I would like to remember a country that is developing rapidly while struggling to preserve its cultural identity. 
Originally from Hungary, my parents and I left during communism when I was three years old and moved to the United States. Due to increased westernization, the country has changed a great deal in a short period of time. In the past, communism limited external exposure, preventing the country and its people from changing at the same pace as other parts of the world. At present, Hungary’s younger generation has adapted to western influence, however the elderly population remains largely unaffected. This is a unique moment in time when antiquated traditions still coexist alongside the contemporary world.
My familiarity with the culture and its people allows the viewer access to a vulnerable and amusing world in the midst of transition. I choose to photograph people and instances that evoke the atmosphere I experienced in Hungary during my frequent childhood visits. This fading version of Hungary I am nostalgic for is represented in the off handed aesthetics of the vernacular: interiors decorated with an abundance of patterns, box shaped cars that double as a picnic table; seemingly incongruous parts that surprisingly coalesce. The characters in the pictures express earnestness and humor, which is juxtaposed with a lingering awareness of mortality and fatalism displayed in their surroundings. Through my observations I reflect on my position in this world as both an outsider and an insider and acknowledge that I can only do so from a foreign perspective.
In an older ongoing project, Cutouts (2003-), I make life-size cardboard cutouts (often self-portraits) and re-photograph them out in the world. I do not use any digital manipulation to composite the pictures. I make the cutouts by hand and re-photograph them in a specific location or situation using a view camera. While the pictures are direct documents, their space appears collaged and altered, often resembling an image from the early days of Photoshop. By creating these replicas I am able to explore the conventions of photography. I depict scenes in which I believe a representation of the subject can be an effective substitute for the original once it is re-photographed. The final outcome exemplifies the duality of the medium; it can be used as a tool to document reality while simultaneously transforming it into the imaginary. On a personal level, the pictures describe a desire to escape reality and a longing to experience the world as it can only appear in pictures and be recalled in memories.