Viennese photographer Bela Borsodi’s unusual work studying the human form reveals a photographic philosophy that is engaging, thought-provoking and determined.
Since moving to New York in the late-90s, Viennese photographer Bela Borsodi has made a name for himself through his unrivalled ability to capture beauty in the reviled. From his surreal still lifes to the light paintings we feature here, Borsodi’s work displays a unique visual imagery, unflinching in its close study of the human form. Never one to shy away from controversy, we spoke to Borsodi from his family home in Vienna, about his photographic philosophy and his constant quest for artistic reinvention.
The Hunger: You started out studying fine arts. How did you make the transition into photography?
Bela Borsodi: At first I was just fooling around and experimenting but in the mid- to late-80s, I had friends working for magazines and I started taking portraits and documentary photographs for them. When you take a photograph for a magazine, it immediately takes on its purpose, its place and its reason. I felt that photography, in particular for magazines, was very interesting because you have such a wide audience. It’s a great platform for communication.
What are you trying to communicate through your photographs? Is there an aesthetic or philosophical point of view that you’re trying to get across?
I think my point of view changed when I started doing still life photography. Before that I was just experimenting. Now my images reflect so many of my interests; it’s sculptural as much as it’s philosophical or psychological. I believe that photography is much more complex than just taking a photo. A photograph is the result of a photographic thought and of a photographic process. When I work on an editorial, I might have a good idea of where I want to go with it but often the experience of executing it, of going with it, living with it, is really the thing that’s most exciting for me. You might see a certain handwriting running through my work but behind it every project is very different. I get my best ideas by imagining things that don’t exist yet.
What makes a good photograph?
If it touches you, if it excites you, if it makes you cry, if it makes you smile. A good photograph is something that you cannot resist looking at. There might be a sense of surprise or discovery, something pleasant or painful. There’s this quote by Oscar Wilde: “I can resist everything except temptation.” In a way a good photograph is what you can’t resist and want to engage with. It doesn’t matter if you take photographs of your dog or your girlfriend, or whether you’re in a big studio with supermodels in it. If it speaks to you, that’s when you know you have a good photograph.
See more of Bela’s photography at his website.
Read more of this interview in Issue 3, out now. Subscribe here.