Iosif Kiraly

Iosif Kiraly lives in Bucharest, Romania. He holds a PhD in visual arts, a MA in architecture and is associate professor at The National University of Arts in Bucharest, where he co-founded in 1995 the department of Photography and Time-based Media Art. Iosif Király is represented by MB Art Agency, Amsterdam.

He participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program from May 15 to June 15, 2001.


BirthplaceResita, Romania
Cultural HeritageRomanian
Light Work RelationshipArtist-in-Residence, 2001
Light Work PublicationsContact Sheet 117




A photographic image on a museum wall or published in a book, magazine, or newspaper, reflects a choice that was made by a photo editor or curator to select an image that best represents a specific event or subject or is most characteristic of an artist’s style of work. The photographer, from the novice to the most advanced, is apt to generate multiple exposures of any particular scene or event. It is the compulsion of the editor, or curator to distill a subject down to a single image, the decisive moment, or more appropriately, the decisive edit. While our vision records images in a continuous stream, our memory recalls only disjointed frames which are reconstituted into a complete image or thought. Just as words join together to form sentences, and sentences join together to form thoughts, photographers rely on the combinations of specific images to communicate. Photographers use their cameras to isolate moments out of the world around them. Each has a unique sense of which moments need to be preserved and which do not. As viewers we are only privileged to see a selected image or group of images.

In 1990 Romanian artist Iosif Kiraly began a photographic series, Indirect, which he perceives as a lifelong project. Reproduced here are a selection of twenty-four images from the series which were taken in 2001. For Kiraly Indirect functions as a type of photographic diary where he uses his camera to make rapid sketches of his surroundings. Images taken by Kiraly while waiting in an airport, on a moving train, a city street, or in the apartment of a friend or relative evoke memories of instances we all encounter in varying degrees. Each image acts as a mnemonic to our own individual experience, yet no single image functions alone. Instead Kiraly uses the combining and sequencing of these images to forge associations to more existentialist meanings.

Also reproduced here are two images from the series Retrievals. In this work Kiraly presents a more sustained observation of a particular scene. Taking a group of standard 4 x 6" size prints, Kiraly stitches these images together into a panorama. The prints are unevenly joined together with masking tape clearly visible. The completed piece tracks the motion of Kiraly’s vision, rather than rendering a seamless panorama. Within many of the images the date stamping feature of his camera draws attention to the length of time the artist spent observing this particular scene, and underscores his obsession with passing time.

In the book Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes speaks at length of photography’s ability to halt time at a specific instance and transform subject into object (the photograph); he refers to cameras as “clocks for seeing.” For Iosif Kiraly, the camera is the apparatus that he employs to measure the passage of time, or cease it altogether. In the magazine Imago Kiraly writes, “Every picture I make is as a magnifying glass I put over a fraction of time (that of the photographic exposure). While developing the film and enlarging the image on photographic paper, that fraction becomes larger, gains meaning, can be analyzed, compared, re-lived. This way photography becomes for me an art form which enables me, like Faust, to tell time: Stop!”1 

Gary Hesse

1. Iosif Kiraly, “Indirect: an Interview in Front of the Mirror,” Imago 9 (Winter 2000): 30.

Iosif Kiraly lives in Bucharest, Romania, and participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program from May 15 to June 15, 2001.