Sári Ember

Happening in Time

Venue: acb Gallery
Date: Sep 15 – Oct 20, 2023
Opening: Sep 14, 2023, 18:00–21:00

Sári Ember presents a summative exhibition in the space of acb Gallery. The exhibition may well be interpreted as a personally motivated query into the future, in the scope of which the artist also looks back on the past seven years of her creative career by presenting a selection of archaic motifs of collective memory. The artistic period reviewed in the exhibition coincides with the artist’s shift from the genre of photography towards a mediatic broadening of her artistic practice, in which variable constellations of stone sculptures and ceramic objects of distinct character have become Ember’s. The portrait, which is about the same age as the history of representation, is complemented in her stone and ceramic works by such familiar and fundamental symbols of culture as the eye, the reclining figure, the human couple, fire, spring water, tree and animals. The comprehensive ensemble of ceramic objects presented in the exhibition Happening in Time, as well as the tent enclosed by the objects, evokes the atmosphere of home, articulated through the artist’s personal approach as a generational question.

By means of the cultural historical references of the motifs, the temporality of the exhibition’s title refers, besides the course of the artist’s personal life, to our visual heritage of thousands of years. Being in her late thirties, as a young parent, with more than a decade of creative practice behind her, the artist explores the question of ageing and passing. She does this in such a formative period of life in which questions of professional reckoning, choosing a partner, having children, making a home and coming to terms with settling down are typical of her middle-class contemporaries. Ember’s ceramic works are reminiscent of the utilitarian objects of the intimate spaces of the home and the ornaments of family representation. Surrounded by a series of vases, glasses and souvenirs, the silk tent can be interpreted as both a bedchamber and a burial site at an archaeological excavation. In each case, the objects presuppose human presence, both at the primary level of sustenance, and at the abstract level of memory-keeping and ritual practices. Moving on from the intimate present of the family home, the objects of a future fictional heritage seek their place in someone else’s life, or rather in the white cube spaces of a museum or gallery, permeated by personal reading expanded into a collective experience being confronted with passing. What contemporary art and ritual practices have in common is that they have no concrete social use or instrumental purpose, yet they are fundamental phenomena of human culture that enhance our knowledge and experience of life from generation to generation. Sári Ember’s solo exhibitions over the past half decade or so have almost without exception explored themes of death, mourning, intergenerational relations and impermanence (Longlife 2017, Glorious Times 2019, Bread is Made of Stone 2020, All is Disappearing 2022) in the form of ensembles of ritual objects placed in the context of contemporary art. Her current exhibition is part of this series, in the course of which, after a period of coming to terms with her ancestors and mourning their loss, she is now addressing her own ageing. Dominated by a pinkish body color with pigmented spots, ‘slipping into her own skin’, the artist’s exhibition interior synthesizes the creative program of the past period by capturing ageing through the changing of our own bodies.

Sári Ember (1985, São Paulo, lives and works in Budapest) graduated in photography from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest. Her practice spans a range of media, including stone, ceramics, textiles, photography and paper collage. Ember’s work uses the narrative capacity of constellations of objects to not only question the nature of representation, but also to deconstruct classic genres such as portraiture and still life. Drawing on personal and collective histories, her works offer interpretations of memories, traditions and rituals.

In 2017 she won the Campari Art Prize in Turin and in 2019 the Leopold Bloom Art Award in Hungary. She has participated in several residency programs, including AIR FUTURA in Prague, Q21 / Museums Quartier in Vienna, Litomyšl Symposium in the Czech Republic, Labmis residency and Tofiq House Atelies in São Paulo. Her work has been shown internationally in solo and group exhibitions in São Paulo, New York, Paris, Łódź, Brno, Berlin, Bratislava and Budapest.

Show more