Katalina Simon

MFA ’23 Photography

Waiting for a Knock at the Door

I was a child of the Cold War. My parents escaped from Hungary in the revolution of 1956. Though I grew up in London far away from the terrors they fled, the stories I heard around the kitchen table seared my psyche and fueled my imagination. My nightmares were not of monsters under the bed but of faceless men coming to our house to take my parents away.

The rise of authoritarian governments around the world compounded by the war in Ukraine have brought to the surface many of my childhood fears. Using metaphor and association, my photographs weave personal, historical, and psychological observations with the political to confront the disturbing similarities between the last century and today. In multiple image sequences, I combine photographs of my own children and our everyday surroundings with pictures from Fortepan, a twentieth-century Hungarian community archive as well as depictions of conflict from current reportage. The images reinforce each other to create a temporally expansive, dark, and cyclical world where past and the present combine to create a sense of foreboding.

Katalina Simon is a British/Hungarian photographer whose work engages with Central Europe’s fractured past. Her work focuses on personal and collective narratives, the immigrant experience and family ties. Simon has shown her work at galleries in Europe and the US including the Griffin Museum of Photography and PH21 Gallery in Budapest.