Unseen Platform: Your work focuses on humanity, our collective memories and the way mankind interacts with objects. There are, however, barely any people in your images. Why is that?
Kata Geibl: I like to think that my work questions how we form our understanding of reality. When there’s a human face, or even a group of people in an image, we are immediately drawn to it. We try to determine their personas, and so the meaning of the image becomes subverted. I try to show the world as a complex structure that goes beyond the individual, focusing instead on the man-made environment. The spaces that we find ourselves in and the objects that we create reveal more about the human race than an individual ever could.
Your most recent work, There is nothing new under the Sun, is the second chapter of an ongoing body of work titled Sisyphus, which borrows its name from Greek mythology. Could you tell us a bit about it?
As a child, my bedtime stories came from Greek mythology, and I always found the story of Sisyphus particularly fascinating. In layman’s terms, the story is about a king who tricked death, and was therefore punished by the gods to push a massive boulder to the top of a steep hill, only for it then to roll back, hitting him over and over again for eternity. For me, the myth reflects on our human impulse to achieve something better than others, losing sight of our goals in the process. Nowadays, people expect science to offer definitive answers to all of life’s “big” questions. Photography has always been intrinsically linked to science: it allows us to see whole universes, exploding stars and microscopic worlds from a safe distance. With these images, we think we reach a closer understanding of our place in the universe without ever experiencing it firsthand. In Sisyphus, I constructed an imaginary laboratory where it’s up to the viewer to decide where the line between fiction and reality lies, deliberately leaving out any scientific explanation.
Could you elaborate on the idea of an ‘imaginary laboratory’?
The imaginary basis of the project is that an event took place that had a major impact on humanity, which only a select group of people experienced. The work makes use of two kinds of distinct imagery. For the first, I worked on experiments in collaboration with physicists at a university in Budapest – during the process, I added and changed certain elements in the space. The remaining images are entirely of my own making, inspired by my fascination with imagery from the Space Race and the Cold War – periods when scientific achievement was used primarily as a weapon. My goal was to create something timeless, leaving viewers unsure as to which decade the pictures come from, allowing their imaginations to run wild.