Celia Graham-Dixon, Unseen Photo Fair - interview with Satijn Panyigay about No Room for Light (2014) and Trees (2015)

Whether shooting interior or exterior environments, Satijn Panyigay remains unwaveringly concerned with the internal machinations of the mind. Graduating with a series in which she photographed the houses of deceased people, Panyigay has developed her interest in absent spaces in No Room for Light, a series she produced last year. In this body of work, Panyigay shifts her interest in a more theoretical direction so that a contrast is set up between shadowy corners of anonymous rooms, in which there is “almost nothing to look at”, and a making process that is saturated with emotion. “In this series I went to all kinds of places. The only condition was that I had to feel really lonely and empty being there.” It is with this that these spaces come to serve as physical depictions of the blunted emotions and muted feelings that reside in dark spaces. “I want to use rooms and places to show my feelings. If someone sees my images as graphic or architectural it’s fine, but people who like my work the best have a melancholic heart” explains Panyigay, who substitutes sharp contrast and vibrancy for a palette of greys and hazy tones in a shift towards the nuances and gradations of that which cannot be easily defined or indeed experienced. Working exclusively with natural light, Panyigay uses light and shadow as her material, “I really love shadows and what light and shadows create on their own. I want my work to be silent, you don’t hear anything when you look at my pictures”, she says.

An interest in presenting the internal, or that which is generally obscured or veiled, is furthered in Panyigay’s Trees series, in which she photographed fields of trees through train windows. The barrier of the window’s physical boundary comes to stand for “the dream like feeling” of being in the world but at a psychological distance. “The pictures wouldn’t have come out the way I wanted them if I was really in the field. My technique shows my feelings exactly how I feel them” elucidates Panyigay. “When I’m alone I can really focus on those feelings and I’m not ashamed of them.” This focus on working alone in order to connect to what she feels as her most productive mode is continued in her most recent work, Melankólia (2016-ongoing), which has taken her to her father’s homeland of Hungary. Her psychic tie to the atmosphere she found here is presented in further melancholic musings on the behaviour of light and the way it bleeds continually into and out of the darkness that surrounds it.