Artist: Ata Kando (1913-2017)
Droom in het woud [Dream in the Forest], 1957
Gelatin silverprint, size 28x28cm (incl. frame 42x42cm), print 2003, edition 16/20. Signed.
Ata Kandó (1913-2017) was born in Budapest as Etelka Görög. She came from an intellectual environment. Her father, Imre Görög, was professor of history and prominent translator of Russian literature. Her mother, Margit Beke, was known as an important translator of Scandinavian literature. Because Kandó had trouble pronouncing her own first name as a child, she called herself Ata. The surname Kandó, which she would keep her life, came from her first husband Gyula Kandó, with whom she had three children. In the 1930s Kandó and her husband stayed two periods in Paris. Kandó studied photography in Budapest in 1935, including with the photographers Klára Wachter and Jószef Pécsi. Until 1938 she worked there as a photographer especially for children, but nothing has been preserved of this work.
In 1938, during their second stay in Paris, she opened her own studio on Avenue de l’Opéra. With her husband, she was active in the resistance, including the forging of documents. After the war, the couple left for Paris again, but her husband wanted to return to Hungary, leaving Ata with their three children. She worked for the American news agency Magnum Photos, with whom she came into contact via her compatriot Robert Capa. She was also a fashion photographer for various Parisian fashion houses.
In Paris she met the photographer Ed van der Elsken in 1950, with whom she moved to the Netherlands in 1954 and married, but divorced a year later. In the Netherlands she met other photographers and together with Violette Cornelius she travelled in November 1956 to the Austrian-Hungarian border to produce a picture story about the Hungarian refugees after the failure of the Hungarian uprising against communism in 1956. Immediately after returning a booklet was published by the National Committee Assistance Hungarian People.
A year later, in 1957, she published Droom in het Woud (Dream in the Forest), a poetic fantasy photobook in which her three children figured, with lyrics from her son Thomas. In 1961 she made a trip to the Amazon in South America and became fascinated by the life of the original inhabitants. In 1965 she returned for a longer stay. Her photographs, with a strong social involvement in the abuses there, were exhibited and in 1970 it appeared a book Slaaf of Dood (Slave or Death). It called attention to the destruction of the rainforest and the indigenous tribes and their culture. Her photographs were exhibited worldwide. A further photo book under the title Kalypso en Nausikaä naar Homerus appeared in 2004.