About the work
“Between Lockdowns” is a series of five photographs printed on concrete.
The title is a reference to the specific time and circumstances when the photographs were taken in Sri Lanka (1991) and the time that artist Krisztina Czika found the negatives from these photos 30 years later (2020).
Little is known about the people in the photos even though a small, enthusiastic team of researchers discovered the history and locations of most of them. The group of Sri Lankan youngsters visible in the photos was traveling around Sri Lanka in January and February of 1991, visiting popular tourist destinations throughout the island, including Adam’s Peak, Isurumuniya Temple, and Ruwanweli Maha Seya. Between 1983 and 2009, the Sri Lankan Civil War was taking place and forced the population into strict lockdowns. This meant there were only a few short months of freedom where it was safe to travel.
Krisztina traveled to Sri Lanka in 2019 to participate in an artist residency. The Coronavirus pandemic started 3 months after she arrived, however, her residency was canceled due to strict lockdown measures. Not only was her residency canceled, but she also found herself stuck in Sri Lanka for 8 months since the borders closed almost immediately. The artist found these negatives one day when the curfew was lifted for a few hours to enable citizens to do groceries and stock up on food. Whilst taking her trash out to the street, she found a pack of negatives in the debris. Because of the lack of tools and machines, Krisztina wasn’t able to see the content of the negatives until she returned to her studio in Amsterdam in August 2020.
These found negatives and photos are a unique reminder of the fortunate times and blessed moments in between the unknown and challenging times that both the artist and the Sri Lankan youth had to endure.
The erosion of the negatives printed on the concrete surfaces creates a fascinating visual detail, while the concrete itself preserves the captured moments. Also, much like memory itself, concrete is a composite material that hardens or cures over time. By enlarging and preserving these photos, the artist passes the visual memory of blessed moments during a civil war onto the next generation.
About the artist
Hungarian-born Amsterdam-based artist, Krisztina Czika, has always felt herself irresistibly drawn to the material world, to what you might call the stuff of life. Even as a student in Budapest and later in the Netherlands, she zoomed in instinctively, fascinated by how everything was put together. In her work she began to experiment with many different kinds of physical materials, focused not solely on their palpable characteristics, but equally on the stories and emotions they carried within them; concerned with both the physical and the metaphysical.
This material fascination has consistently inspired wholly idiosyncratic research and has influenced both the focus and the form of Krisztina’s subsequent art and conceptual design work.
Krisztina is inspired by everyday objects — once again, the stuff of life. These objects may take the form of seemingly mundane pieces of technology, seemingly useless waste products or even just the materials from which either of these things are made. Each project begins with the identification and exploration of a particular object, substance or material. Often, because of the very commonplace nature of its role in our lives, this tends to be something that is generally overlooked, or even looked down upon. An IKEA mug, for example. A fallen head-hair, plucked from a sleeve. A bundle of old negatives in a pile of street-trash.
Krisztina’s aesthetic investigation begins at an elementary level, with a profound exploration of the very smallest particles of the chosen materials and an examination of how they develop and evolve, both with and without human intervention.
Underpinning much of Krisztina’s work is an interest in the transformation of the everyday into new and diverse forms; the journey from the building blocks of our daily life — familiar and functional — into something abstract and thought-provoking, leading to a fascinating and often highly rewarding reevaluation of the world around us.
Appreciation of the multifarious aspects of any given material is a necessary stepping stone in the creation of new uses, new applications and endless artistic possibilities. So having researched and reviewed these materials in what you might call their natural state, the artist intervenes, taking the materials to the next level, endowing them with new forms that still somehow reflect or reference their previous life.
In this way, Krisztina’s work overturns our long-entrenched notions of the material world, rescuing what we often perceive as meaningless, or worse, and reevaluating, reimagining, repositioning, reinventing, redefining.
For Krisztina Czika, physical material is never simply a matter of matter, pure and simple. Rather it has dramatic social, environmental and even political ramifications, with much to say about the way we live our lives.
Profound and playful in equal measure, Krisztina Czika’s work revels in the infinite potential of the material world.