Interview — 5 min read

Attila Bartis about writing, photography and Transylvania

Interview — 5 min read

Attila Bartis about writing, photography and Transylvania

Attila Bartis- Forgotten interview, so I could name the interview I had with Attila Bartis, last winter. I transcribed the interview, I edited, I started to read the other books and I stayed with the interview in the draft. But better later than never, right?

The interview was occasioned by the presentation of the novel “Sfîrșitul”, published by Polirom Publishing House. The translation was done by Marius Tabacu, who stated at the launch that “he is sorry that the translation has finished”.

Attila Bartis about what “home” means and where he is at home

I feel at home in Transylvania. I had a childhood in Târgu-Mureș. In 2007 I was first at sea. I do not have the same relationship with Dobrogea, with Moldova, with Banat as I have with Transylvania. And this does not depend on nationality at all.

I had a strange experience at the end of 1988. I wanted to leave Romania and I spent a few months in a refugee camp in Denmark. It was an open camp, you could go out into the city. And there was a lot of people from Africa, East Asia, Latin America and of course I was the only Hungarian citizen. There were many in Transylvania. And there I spent New Year’s Eve. Everyone in the camp was having fun on New Year’s Eve. Only the Transylvanians – whether they were Szeklers, Romanians or Saxons – only they stayed in rooms, sad and sometimes they took a picture of home with their family, wept a little. You really can’t get out of here. I am convinced that there are several geographical areas that have much greater power. There are places you can’t go for good.

I can’t do that. The first years in Budapest were like an exile. Budapest started coming home in 1990 when I became a father and that was an important thing. It is clear that I belong here and there. The most natural answer is that they are from Târgu-Mureș.

About writing

I don’t write too much. I think 99% of what I wrote is published. I have nothing at home in the drawer. Of course, a few sentences, ideas. If I am to calculate, I spent much more time in my life with photography than writing.

Sometimes I can write anywhere, sometimes I wait for something to happen, but I don’t have a calendar, a writing schedule.

Writing is a process that is the most faithful representation of thought.

About freedom of expression given by writing and photography

Photography cannot give as much freedom as any other means of expression, simply because no other art depends so much on objective reality. I, as a photographer, cannot exist without the world around me.

I can be a great photographer, but I can’t do your portrait without you. Without you, I’m dead.

And because of this, photography is very different from other arts. And she is also very dependent on technique.

Neither literature nor writing naturally gives freedom to everyone. It’s the way you try to find freedom, but that doesn’t mean you found it. But you must always try because otherwise, you are dead as a writer.

There is not much sync between writing and photography. Attila Bartis

About photography

When I was young I would write to myself how I see a photo and then look for it. But now I’m under impulse. Now I don’t really make sketches or plans.

I have never done photojournalism in my life, but there are photographers and photos that were very important to me.

Photography is a continuous present, without past and without future.

Photography has a lot to do with the unconscious, with the fear of death. You want to make a certain moment forever. This is a thing, sometimes conscious, but generally unconscious. This is fundamental in photography.

Photography has many very different phases. We usually say that we take a picture when we press the button. But it’s not like that. The photo starts when you have the camera in your hand and is finished when you have the prince and put it in the frame. And between these two situations are very different states.

It was not the events (no. From childhood when he visited his father’s newspaper) that were the most important, but the atmosphere. I spent a lot of time in the lab, in the darkroom. ”

Photo source: Photo taken by Cosmin Bumbuț, in 2012.

Thanks to Polirom Publishing House and BookCorner Bookshop for organizing and hosting the meeting with Attila Bartis.

Check out the interview with Raluca Nagy.