Dóra Maurer

Seven Twists I-VI

1979, printed 2011

Not on display

Dóra Maurer born 1937
6 photographs, gelatin silver print on paper
Image, each: 205 × 205 mm
Purchased with funds provided by the Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee 2015


Seven Twists I–VI 1979/2011 is a self-portrait of the artist comprising six framed black and white photographs on paper, laid out in a single row. The first photograph shows Maurer holding up a square sheet of blank paper that mostly covers her face, with only her right eye and hairline visible. Each subsequent photograph presents the artist holding up the previous photograph in the same manner but rotated by forty-five degrees anti-clockwise. In each photograph her actual face is angled alternately more or less towards the camera, with a little more of her face being revealed each time. The work was reprinted in 2011 for Maurer’s participation in the Istanbul Biennial that year. It was printed in an edition of five, of which Tate copy is the fifth. While the original vintage prints had the dimensions 230 x 230 mm, the size of the reprinted edition is smaller at 205 x 205 mm.

Maurer frequently stages herself in front of the camera and the self-portrait is a recurring motif in her work. By placing herself on both sides of the photographic lens, the artist blurs the border between her active status as a creator and her passive role as the subject of observation. More than a reflection on self-representation, these works are, however, focused on movement, proportions, change and progression. The photographer and curator Kincses Károly has stated:

Certainly, on the one hand, there are constructive-concrete art methods at work in the way changes are created, through translations, progressions and variations. Mathematical-geometrical craftwork has been applied to the surfaces. To speak of changing with regard to the work of Dóra Maurer really does mean to talk of craft – and she certainly has the necessary means and abilities – but far more than that, a truly thorough, in-depth, if not existential understanding of change is required … If we approach the concept of change from even closer, then it offers us movement, just as it appears in the self-portrait as turning. Movement is to be understood not as mechanical movement but as movement for the eye, movement as the process of perception… The whole thing is the artistic process of a changing, in which the artist places herself as a person.
(Kincses Károly, ‘Made in Maurer’, in Gomringer & Károly 2007, p.7.)

The process of concealing, revealing, twisting, turning or distorting is a constant feature not only in Maurer’s photography but also in her films and graphic works. Repetition is another characteristic element of her practice. In her photographs she frequently uses serial rather than individual images (see Parallel Lines, Analyses 1977, Tate T14289). In this way she introduces progression and a narrative component into a medium traditionally associated with stillness and with freezing moments and actions in time. As in Maurer’s experimental film and graphic works, this process can be seen as an attempt to transgress the definitions and limits of the medium of photography. The change embedded in the action becomes more important than the documentary aspect of the photograph. Maurer’s carefully crafted composition transforms the portrait into a kaleidoscopic image that plays with the viewer’s perception.

Maurer, who trained as a graphic artist, initially worked mainly in printmaking (see, for examples, Seven Foldings 1975, Tate P77124, and Traces of a Circle 1974, Tate P77125). Since the late 1960s her practice has also incorporated collage, photography and film (see Timing 1973/1980, Tate T14284, Relative Swings I–III 1973, Tate T14285, and Triolets 1980, Tate T14286). She has been a major figure in the Hungarian art scene since the 1970s, both through her art and her influence as a professor at the Hungarian Fine Arts Academy, where she began teaching in the early 1970s.

Further reading
Eugen Gomringer and Kincses Károly, Maurer Dóra: Fotómunkák = Photoworks 1971–1993, Budapest 2007.
Anna Bálványos (ed.), Maurer Dóra, exhibition catalogue, Museum Ludwig – Museum Für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Budapest 2009.
Dóra Maurer (ed.), Dóra Maurer: Traces 1970–1980, Krakow 2011.

Kasia Redzisz
January 2014
Arthur Goodwin
February 2019

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