The Robert Koch Gallery is pleased to present a selection of photo-montages by the Hungarian artist Foto Ada (maiden name, Ada Ackermann, married name, Elemérné Marsovsky), whose work depicts the anxious mood of the Industrialized West during the period of the late 1930s to World War II. Foto Ada’s photo-montages are surreal and often humorous expressions of the quickening pace of industry and urban growth, as well as biting commentary on Nazi propaganda, the rise of Fascism, and the onset of the Second World War.
In her work, appropriated photographs of objects such as the radio, typewriter, motorcycle, and skyscrapers are used to portray the period’s technological advancements. Images of clocks also play a prominent role in Ada’s works, illustrating the importance of time and increased productivity. In other montages Ada uses imagery such as soldiers in gas masks, walls of skulls, and boys with toy tanks to point a critical finger at Nazi Germany. Due to a climate of intense fear, these very personal images were probably kept hidden from public view during her lifetime.
Aside from the legacy of this work, a body of dance photographs, and a circular montage of images in the old Budapest airport attributed to her, little is known about this Hungarian artist. She worked as a studio photographer in Budapest, and disappeared in 1944, most likely killed during the invasion of Budapest or sent to the camps and died there. The relative anonymity of the artist’s background, however, does not detract from the art itself. Foto Ada’s quizzical perspective of technological progress and its iconography leaves the viewer with long lasting juxtapositions that, while historic in content, are quite contemporary in significance.