Excerpts from an interview...


In the Spring of 1999, after the opening of a New York solo exhibit, I was interviewed for a local cable Television station. All the questions below are from the original interview but some of the answers (regarding work, retirement, my sons, my grandchildren) became obsolete through the years. So I updated those answers. I didn't even have grandchildren at that point. Well, actually I announced it at that very opening that my son Erik and his wife Claudia expect their first child in October 1999.


Could you tell us about yourself? When did you start taking photos?

I was born in Budapest in 1934. For my twelfth birthday my Father gave me a Zeiss Ikon camera. From that day on I photographed everywhere, everything and everybody. As a youngster secretly I would have liked to learn ceramics or sculpture but I never told about this to anybody. I think it's not a coincidence that my latest images are so often three dimensional. The frustrated sculptor comes out of me.

Have you ever had the opportunity to fulfill this dream?

A few years after my arrival to America, I took an evening class in New York. It was on basic techniques of pottery. In the early sixties, when we lived in Hawaii I taught pottery for several years. I also took some advanced classes from well known artists at the University of Hawaii. In the early eighties I studied sculpture at the De Cordova Museum in Lincoln Massachusetts.

What happened to your interest in photography?

In 1957, just a few month after I arrived to this country, when I had barely money for food I bought a movie camera. For many years I could not afford to buy a movie projector, but I knew that I can not live without an editing-machine. I could only view the final films at the houses of friends where I had both a projector and an audience. At home I had to turn by hand the editing-machine so fast that it looked like the subjects were moving at normal speed. Film making interested me very much. Especially editing. In the late sixties I made a film with the cooperation of a group of Harvard students that was shown in several Harvard institutions. I was writer, editor and producer but had enough sense to ask someone else to direct it. We got a lots of acknowledgment.

What was the movie about?

About the process of alienation. Just a few years earlier, in 1964 in Queens, New York, Kitty Genevese was murdered in front of her own apartment house. Thirty-eight neighbors heard her desperate calls but not one of them made any attempt to contact the police or call for help. I could not forget about this event for years. In my movie I wanted to show the process that makes us this insensitive.

It was filmed [in Cambridge, Massachusetts] on Harvard Square, in the Harvard Stadium and in the famous Harvard Lampoon building, where - according to the caretaker - I was the first woman who ever entered. The film had a surrealistic atmosphere. Those who read Alain Fournier's "Le Grande Meaulnes" would easily recognize several scenes.

What about photography?

In 1982 I started to take a serious interest in photography. I made a lot of portrait pictures. I must admit that that is my favorite type of photography. I was lucky because for 30 years I have been a member of a Boston based Hungarian group, where all the prominent opponents of the ruling Hungarian communist regime gave lectures or held discussions. Famous Hungarian artists and writers spoke to us. The first President of the free Hungary, Árpád Göncz read his poems to us twice. And I photographed them all. These photographs soon will be published in the book about this group: "The 30 year history of the Harvard Circle".

When did you start creating photo compositions?

I made the first kaleidoscopic photo compositions in 1987. In those days I ordered 4 prints of the original. Two of them were regular prints, and two of them were "mirror images". For the mirror images we had to turn over the negatives but it was impossible to do that accurately by hand. When I glued the four pictures next to each other the images never lined up correctly, there were always disturbing gaps between them so several months and 22 pictures later I simply gave up in disgust. In my mind I knew how these pictures should look like, I knew that they could create wonderful, three dimensional images but with the available techniques I could not do them any better.

But something changed your mind. What was it?

In 1994 I heard that a Boston area store uses a computer to restore old photographs. Out of old, yellowed, broken photos they created perfect ones. From family photos they 'took out' unwanted husbands, wives and in-laws. They planted famous people next to the owners of existing photos. I turned to them. I asked if - without touching my originals - they could just make a seamless photo composition of the four identical mirror images. "Of course" - they responded without hesitation. Out of my 1987 images they created the first few. Soon thereafter I learned the relatively simple technique and now I do all the work myself. For years I used their very expensive scanning machine to scan in the negatives. I could never afford a high quality equipment like that. It was a good excuse for me to visit them periodically. I always learned there something new. Now, of course I no longer need scanning, since I use a digital camera.

Is this computer art?

NO, IT IS NOT! I am probably too sensitive on this subject. Perhaps because I do not like computer art. I have yet to see a good one. I don't do anything with the computer that I could not do in a dark-room, except that I create a seamless image of the four originals. Well, I must confess something. In my Miami Art Deco series I started to cheat a little. I cut out some unwanted cars and people who wandered into the picture. My artist friends laugh at me for making an issue about this. The truth is that on 99% of my pictures I never change anything. When I know that I will not change the original, I am more inspired to take the photograph in such a way that it does not require any "editing". This is a matter of discipline for me.

Do you use any special lenses or filters?

None. Originally I had two Nikon cameras and most of the time I used a Nikkor 35 - 200mm zoom lens. The earlier pictures were taken with a 50mm lens and just in time for my Paris Series I acquired a 20mm lens. Many times I used a Polarizer filter. Since 2002, I work with a Nikon digital camera.

How do you make the final print?

On the Iris-printer. Through the years I worked with two different companies. One more professional than the other. I had a great relationship with each of them.

Are these prints expensive?

Yes, they are. The Iris print is the best quality printing technique for these photographs and unfortunately it is not inexpensive.

Do you work?

Not anymore. I am retired.

What did you do?

Though I left Hungary with a Master's Degree from a totally different area, from 1977 to 1999 I have been working in the computer industry as a Software Engineer.

Now that you are retired, what are your plans?

I plan to travel a lot! And photograph. Yes, you can guess the results. It is predictable what I will do to totally innocent and unsuspecting buildings all over the world. If all goes well, I shall make them unrecognizable.

Do you exhibit your pictures?

In the year 2003 I already participated in nine exhibits.

Why the fifth image?

That is what I search for. I am only satisfied when out of the four identical images a fifth image emerges. Often this fifth image is in harmony with the original, other times it is in total contrast. With my technique the picture goes through a surprising change. Surprising even for me. Static objects become dynamic, inorganic objects become organic and vice versa, like in the case of the Kumkapi Fishmarket Series.

What about your private life, if I may ask?

I have two wonderful sons, who are the joy of my life. Alexander - 52 - writer, actor is happily married. He and his wife, Sharon and their adorable little girl, Eden live a short distance from us. Erik, - 50 - his wife, Claudia and their children: Sam (16) and Julia (13) live in Belgium where Erik is a US diplomat.(This part is updated on 02/21/15)

I live with my husband, Istvan on a beautiful lake 45 minutes West of Boston. On summer week-ends we water-ski, kayak or swim. On summer evenings we sit around the outdoor fireplace and sing while roasting bacon with good friends.

What do you sing?

Songs from our childhood. Mostly old Hungarian folksongs.