Kata Geibl has always wanted to be a photographer. When she was five years old, she asked for a camera from her parents, and that was just the beginning for her. “I carried that green 35mm film camera everywhere, always taking snapshots,” says Geibl. “Then later in my 20s when I studied film history, I watched Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie, Blowup, for the first time. After that, I knew I had to become a photographer no matter what, so I stopped my studies and applied to art school.”
Geibl attended the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest and in 2019, she began her Master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Studying photography as a subject gave her some grounding in her approach: “My studies helped me to structure my thinking and always reminded me that my work only lives when it has an audience, and I need to build a bridge between me and the rest of the world,” she says.
One way Geibl is doing this is through her ongoing project There Is Nothing New Under The Sun, which the photographer sees as a reflection on society. “The way we consume, enquire, vote, communicate, and work is rapidly changing every day. A completely new age has dawned,” says Geibl. “The series is capturing the zeitgeist of our time, without laying out answers to the viewer, but guiding their mind and creativity into the direction of the story behind the images.”
Inspiration stems from Geibl’s own anxieties about the world and our capitalist leanings. Stylistically she’s drawn from artists such as Taryn Simon, Paul Graham, Gregory Halpern, André Kertész, and Rinko Kawauchi. Though her approach changes depending on the project, the imagery throughout There Is Nothing New Under The Sun is warm, beautifully lit and intriguing.
Mixing cityscapes with mountain ranges, and unusual portraits with closer crops of body parts, the breadth of imagery is partly due to the images being taken across different landscapes, including Hungary, Austria and the UK. The result is a set of seemingly disparate images that are tied together through a sunset-hued palette, a nod to the sun being the constant in this ever-changing world.
For every project it helps Geibl to visualise what she wants to create, so on top of initial research and drafting a rough artist’s statement, she also adopts a process more akin to a painter or illustrator. “Every time I start working on a series I always sketch what I want to see. My sketchbook is a tool for me to visualise and collect all my ideas in one place,” explains the photographer. “I think I would be lost without it. If I write or sketch my vision down, I can always come back to it… The sketchbook also functions as a moodboard for each series. It’s very important in my process to see the project evolving as a whole.”
The ability to create and direct an image is what Geibl enjoys most about her work. “The scenes that I create myself, when everything is staged and I can be the director of the whole image – these are the most challenging and exciting ones for me.”
Other challenges are often having the brain space to channel her creativity into everything that’s on her mind. “It’s very hard to find the time to concentrate on only one project,” she says. “And also the uncertainty that goes with being a freelancer and artist can be quite challenging.”
With Covid-19’s presence still being felt all over the world, There Is Nothing New Under The Sun is currently on hold, as are Geibl’s commercial projects. “But everyone in the art world is in the same situation, so I try to be positive and find new ways of working,” says the photographer.
This pause in work has reminded Geibl the importance of slowing down and taking care of yourself and loved ones. “I didn’t even realise in the last few years how much I took on, only now,” she says. “I try to make the best of the situation and remind myself we are all in this together. Oh and I finally had the time to clean my windows!”