Eszter Biro

Visual artist and researcher who holds a PhD from Glasgow School of Art. I interrogate a specific power of family photographs. I hypothesise that family photographs can point beyond themselves, that beyond their visual representational surface they hold silenced, private content that can’t assimilate to official archives. Such content offsets the ideologically determined collective discourse; if excavated act as counter-memory and archive. Through the theoretical and methodological foundations set by Marianne Hirsch, Annette Kuhn and Martha Langford, I devised an excavation strategy. I triangulate between fields of fine art, humanities and social sciences with methodologies of photography theory, archiving, autoethnography, oral history and philosophy.

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'Reciepebook' (2015) A5, 76 pages.

Eszter Biró’s grandmother Vera was taken from Szeged to Budapest, then to Bergen-Belsen, when she was 16 years old. She only took two items with her a notebook in which she recorded a collection of her favourite poems with a pencil. In order to endure the horrors of the concentration camps, it was essential to recall memories and keep one’s religious-cultural traditions. Eszter Biró – just as she did in several of her earlier works dealing with the use of archives – handled the recipe book as a kind of symbolic archive. She took photos of the ingredients on film, and then cut up the negatives into strips to compile them into abstract visual recipes based on the original pages of the recipe book.