Cut Before Use, 2012

Emese Benczúr graduated from the Hungarian College of Fine Arts in 1996. A distinctive/emblematic representative of the artist generation of the 90’s, she received the Klára Herczeg Award in 2001 and the Munkácsy Prize in 2006.

Benczúr exhibits regularly at solo and group shows alike, both in Hungary and abroad. Her works have been shown at prestigious international events such as Manifesta, the Venice Biennale, BOZAR in Brussels or the Liverpool Biennale. Her works are included in major collections, including MUSAC or the Ludwig Collection.
Benczúr’s artworks are characterised by a female perspective and a sense of humour. She appropriates the elements and materials of pop culture for her installations, the concepts of which reflect on current social issues. Repetition occurs as a key motif in her works. She usually creates her pieces through a monotone, laborious process – eg. piling up their elements through ceaseless stitching or collecting – thus recalling the household labour women perform at home in several of her artworks.

Her work Cut Before Use draws attention to problems regarding the fashion industry. One of the main pillars of consumer society is fashion: millions of women adjust their appearances to trends changing every season, ensuring tremendous income for the industry. Providing this fast-paced market with cheap production and labour costs is only possible at the price of tremendous pollution and inhumane working conditions, mainly using third-world sources of raw materials and workforce.

The slogan „Cut Before Use” evokes the momentum of removing the garment labels showing fibre content and washing instructions from new clothing before first use – Benczúr’s raw materials for her curtain-like artwork. Multilingual labeling requires numerous sewn-in tags, thus resulting in a considerable pile after removal. This is how – in Benczúr’s interpretation – newly bought fashion items become the emblem of overconsumption and the global market manipulating it. The curtain-like arrangement of her artworks is reminiscent of changing rooms and fashion show runways, thus also creating a psychological reading towards problems regarding self-perception and body-image.

In the context of the exhibition, the artwork argues for conscious consumption, voluntary simplicity and minimalism, since these approaches resist the continuous consumption generated by advertisements – and therefore decrease environmental load.

Krisztina Üveges