Dóra Maurer

Sluices 3, A+B


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Dóra Maurer born 1937
2 works on paper, gelatin silver print and aquatint
Support: 548 × 469 mm
support: 547 × 469 mm
Purchased with funds provided by the Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee 2015


Sluices 3, A+B 1980−1 (Tate T14287) and Sluices 6, A+B 1980−1 (Tate T14288) are diptychs, each comprising one black and white photograph and one etching executed in aquatint on paper. They show the effect of a chosen medium (either light or liquid) being allowed to pass through a series of gates or ‘sluices’ arranged in a certain way. In each work the two components are framed separately and displayed alongside one another.

Both parts of each of the diptychs are based on the same composition – a small-scale installation of wooden blocks which the artist constructed in her studio. To make the photograph Maurer grouped the blocks in rows on a piece of white paper bearing a visible grid. The arrangement was lit from one direction and subsequently photographed, the resulting image showing the contrasting play of light and shadows on the paper’s surface. To make the print, the artist repeated the arrangement of wooden blocks on a graphic plate before pouring acid onto it from the same angle as the light source for the photograph. She then used the plate to make the print which constitutes the right-hand side of each diptych. The juxtaposition of the two images in each diptych demonstrates the similarities and differences between the two media: the photograph is a record of light falling on, over and passing through the installation; the aquatint traces the same process, repeated through the flow of liquid. The word ‘sluice’ in the title of the works refers to the wooden blocks, which act as an adjustable means of determining the path of the light and acid.

Sluices 6, A+B and Sluices 3, A + B form a part of a larger group of works with the same title. This consists of photograms, photographs and ‘dustgrams’ made in a similar way, using various materials and substances to test their formal qualities. They are all based on the idea of marking traces resulting from Maurer’s interest in change and movement. The Sluices are part of a wider group of works representing her interest in production processes and her experimental take on traditional techniques. Her works – whether photographs, graphic work or films – share a preoccupation with structure, the relativity of perception and the exploration of a medium’s limits. The artist frequently translates the features typical of one medium or technique into another. In the case of Sluices, her way of using the etching acid follows on from her observations of how the light falls and is mapped in the photographic element of the work.

Maurer, who trained as a graphic artist, initially worked mainly in printmaking (see, for example, 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
February 2014
Arthur Goodwin
February 2019

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