Breaking The Rigid Concept Of Normality With Pol Kurucz

The eccentric photographer's colorful and vibrant work highlights social injustice towards black women in Brazil

Woman with tongue. Part of the Venus Beach series by Pol Kurucz

visual culture

Toward the end of 2018, it was reported that planetary scientists had identified what could be a lake sitting 1.6 kilometers under the surface of Mars. Despite the discovery, the team behind the work haven't been able to measure how deep the water is. As a result, it's impossible to know whether it is, in fact, a reservoir or a puddle.

Those of us who hoped the lake would uncover evidence of extraterrestrial life have had to put our celebrations on ice. However, after being introduced to the work of Pol Kurucz we can only dream that whatever world they do find, it looks a little something like his Venus Beach series.

A woman posing in Venus. A photoshoot by Pol Kurucz
Venus Beach by Pol Kurucz and Kolor Collective. The group was founded in 2015 by the Franco-Hungarian who often touches on his own experiences of discrimination to call out sensitive social problems. (Photo: Pol Kurucz)

The color and mood is part-Halloween, part-UV Parisian patisserie, with a focus "less on glam aesthetics and more on the eccentricity and inner universe of female creatures: bored teens and extraterrestrials"

If you're familiar with the certain brand of lip balm that smells good enough to eat, then Pol's images will leave your senses in a similar state of euphoric disarray. When the fact you can't smell, taste, or even touch some of the props and colors that appear in each scene finally hits home, it's quite the comedown.

Describing his work as "an acrobatic exercise between pop and fashion photography", Venus Beach, and the equally otherworldly editorial, BOR3D In Brazil, fizz with vibrancy. The color and mood is part-Halloween, part-UV Parisian patisserie, with a focus "less on glam aesthetics and more on the eccentricity and inner universe of female creatures: bored teens and extraterrestrials." The outcome is deliciously odd. 

 

Image by Pol Kurucz as part of Venus beach
Pol says the collective’s philosophy is to ‘let the viewers interpret the images in their own way, without interfering in the process’. (Photo: Pol Kurucz)

And where does such an exotic mind come from? When reading Pol's bio it's clear he's had a diverse life full of extreme experiences. Born to a French mother in a Hungarian hospital, he eventually landed in Brazil, where he's currently based. Trained in theatre as a teenager, his later work in finance allowed him the almost Marvel superhero-esque title of "CEO by day and stage director by night", whilst further adventures as a restaurateur and time spent "sailing on the shores of the adult industry" add to his mystique.


 Concerned with topics such as feminism and the expectations imposed on black women in Brazilian society, satirical, subversive, and sometimes provocative messages lie behind the theatrical dazzle

It's quite clear that Pol is charged by a desire to discover, with his quest for different experiences leading him to challenge our common understanding of ‘normality’. "Beyond its formal definition, I see normal as a way of perceiving the world, of blindly believing in immutable truths and rules that define it," he says. "The more we are afraid of the unknown, the less we are prepared to face it."

 

An image from Venus Beach. A photo series from Pol Kurucz
Pol's need to speak out about ideas of convention is fuelled by a desire to make the world a better place. "Behind the worst sufferings in human history, intolerance, discrimination, genocides I see a common cause: the blind belief of oppressors in the rightfulness of their norms which dictates who and what is right vs. wrong, superior vs. inferior." (Photo: Pol Kurucz)

After adjusting your focus to his glam-trash aesthetic you start to recognize that Pol's version of the unknown and unfamiliar touches on sensitive social problems many people choose to ignore. Concerned with topics such as feminism and the expectations imposed on black women in Brazilian society, satirical, subversive and sometimes provocative messages lie behind the theatrical dazzle.

"Humans–especially those who are numb to all the bad we are doing to each other and to our environment–go to great lengths to stay in their comfort zone. Without provoking them, there is no way to initiate any thought that would lead to change."

 

Model in a neon egg. From Venus beach from Pol Kurucz
"Color-wise Brazil is not as diverse and vibrant as it seems. There are three colors available for cars, concrete is overused in cities, buildings are rarely painted in other colors then beige or grey, local fashion brands tend to be  conservative, and it's almost impossible to find insane colorful locations for photo shoots outside of favelas and the carnival season…" (Photo: Pol Kurucz)

"I see our history as a dance with three steps ahead and two behind. We are certainly in the two steps behind period, but I am optimistic that this will trigger positive changes"

In recent years, black women in Brazil have been at the forefront of a movement that challenges issues ranging from sexual and domestic violence to police brutality and stereotyping. Pol and his creative group Kolor Collective consider themselves to be part of this movement, with the work they create a way of pushing people to think more about the world around them.

 

Making sandcastles on Venus Beach with Pol Kurucz
But Brazil still offers more than most countries "…Still my vibrant color palette, my stories, compositions are deeply rooted in Brazil, they are inspired by its openness, craziness, love for exaggeration and the vibrancy of the Brazilian soul." (Photo: Pol Kurucz)

Pol's strange worlds and interesting characters have featured in a variety of top fashion titles as well as numerous galleries worldwide. His diverse career choices and motivation to end social injustice come together to create work you simply can't ignore. With plans to continue his critique of Brazil’s societal problems, as well as more worldwide issues, we're looking forward to what's coming next.

"I see our history as a dance with three steps ahead and two behind. We are certainly in the two steps behind period, but I am optimistic that this will trigger positive changes. Although I'm more worried about something that is suffering from all of humanity’s dances: nature. My dream is to find a way of speaking about this silent genocide in a way that people pay attention to."

 To view more of Pol's work visit polkurucz.com


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