From Oblivion to Abstraction '

Luke Cassidy Greer navigates the politics of remembrance and forgetting within the work of Judit Flóra Schuller. Exploring the recollection through the possessions amassed and tracing a disjointed line through the turmoil of 20th century Europe.

Artist: Judit Flóra Schuller

Editor: Luke Cassidy Greer

Judit Flóra Schuller_ Inventory, 2015-20

The work of Schuller denied any clear categorisation. Some works hold a sculptural outcome where others exist in the two-dimensional – although regarding her areas of study we see the field of ‘photography’ appearing from her BA at Budapest Metropolitan University to her MA at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Perhaps the mired catch-all category of photography is the most fitting for Schuller as it is through this medium that we most commonly witness the frequently murky commerce between verity and art. It is in this tension that the photographic image holds that we find the concerns of Judit Flóra Schuller epitomised. The image is descriptive in every visual detail of what it records in the lens, yet is only reflective of the moment captured, denying us access to the full story – context is ever ebbing.

The work Memory Theatre has existed in one form or another since 2015 when Schuller became the custodian of the family archive amassed by her late grandfather, Imre Schuller. Spanning over two centuries the archive ranges from the official to the unremarkable; objects, photographs, films, correspondence and documentation, all fragments of lives lived. Yet to call this the start of the archives would be a gross simplification; its true progenitor was that of Rezső Schuller (Judit’s great grandfather), who began to trace the family genealogy before his life was tragically cut short in the Holocaust. To cherish and record those traces left by the ones that we held dear often feels to be the answer to that questioning pang of mourning. From Rezső to Imre. From Imre to Judit. From oblivion to abstraction.

“Being the heiress of this rich material does not solely mean to become the person who takes care of the heritage. I have also found myself in an inherited position, in the process of an interrupted and incomplete mourning. I gradually and partly unintentionally carried on the burden of this inherited bereavement that I had absorbed through projected memory.”

– Judit Flóra Schuller

In Inventory [2015 - 2018] and Archive Boxes (Towards Nothingness) [2017] we see the contents of this inherited archive laid out before us. The depictions are literal; the objects are placed, photographed and collated. Almost clinical, the means of recording these images only hint at the complexity behind the surfaces they capture, yet act profoundly as evidence of that oh-so intangible human experience that has been scribed upon them. The process the objects are treated to permits them to evade the often banal truths of function. Instead they are considered, curated and re-examined through the altered eye of art and fall into a plane of abstraction. No matter the faithfulness to truth of this retelling, it is impossible to fully remove the human ambiguity that the artworks rest within. As an audience we implant ourselves into this fiction that emulates knowledge – and, therefore, power.

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