The previous centuries had seen a myriad of experimentation aiming to achieve the photographic imaging of reality. The light sensitivity of silver halides had already been discovered before the invention of photography, and the experimentation with the various photographic processes eventually led to the possibility of the quick creation of reproducible photographs. Ag. The chemical symbol of silver. Máté Dobokay’s exhibition showcases the creative process in which the author experiments both as a chemist and a philosopher with the dismantling of the photographic image into its elemental components, while looking into questions related to transfering knowledge and providing feedback.
The painstaking, experimental attitude that characterizes the creative method of the artist is aimed at discovering and exposing the most essential inner structure of the medium. The exhibition titled Ag tackles questions related to the medium as well as to the relationship between creation and education. The teacher presenting the trade, the knowledge, and the technical information is browsing the used materials forsaken by the students. Thus, the basic motifs of the exhibition are made up of items that had been discarded, left behind by the students in the workshop and the photo lab: used fixer, test strips, and photo paper provide the basis for the artworks.
The gesture of experimentation, appropriation, transformation, and recycling is simultaneously present both in the behind-the-scenes works exposing the creative processes, as well as the resulting artworks themselves. We can observe the gradation that is generated when developing the discarded, improperly stored, light-struck photo paper. We can see tiny objects, slightly reflective surfaces set on the edges of petri dishes, globes and glasses, figures, marbled paper, which are all formed from the silver collected from the used fixer via zinc plates or electrolysis.
Máté Dobokay’s photographic experimentation does not result in photographic images. The artworks evoke the processes of the secret and intricate science of alchemy, looking for the philosopher’s stone suitable for turning base metals into precious metals, achieving immortality, and healing physical anguish. Dobokay creates unique and unreproducible, abstract, picturesque images and objects, delineating all the different shades of the shiny grey of silver on the various media. (Gellér Judit, curator)