Photographic paper, pregnant with silver nitrates, placed out in nature and exposed to the elements, sometimes even for several weeks. Often ruined, stripped of its emulsion, or infested with mold. With imprints of the forest, the warmth of dying oxbow arms, turf, fallen leaves, reflections on the surface of the water, or clods of earth on a plowed field. I am fascinated by the photographic paper’s ability to work with time, to absorb light and energy. Its capacity for faithfully depicting and subsequently preserving what is transient. I have been placing photographic paper out in nature for several years now, and even after all this time my evening trips into the forests and fields, far from the noise of the city, my personal and intimate performances in which I am alone in the middle of the night feeling like a tiny part of the world and the universe, trying to find my path and my place on this earth, loses none of its urgency — quite the opposite, in fact. I often lack the words to express my feelings, but the papers remain, with their subtle records of the movement of the wind, the flowing of the water, the fallen leaves… an imprint of the world.
Jiří Šigut, born May 14, 1960 in Ostrava-Vítkovice, Czechoslovakia. Received technical education. From 1985 to1991, Jiří intentionally refrained from interfering with the process of long exposure in his work. In this creative period, Jiří's photographs typically reflected a non-artistic, unfettered style, reflecting his quest for an unmediated recording of events onto the sensitive layer of the negative. In his Notes on Photography, 1984-85 Šigut writes: "I think it is the necessary length of the exposure, and perhaps connecting it with motion, that makes it possible to capture the elusive multi-faceted character of reality from perspectives or places that we can never see together at the same time." Mundane activities such as bus rides, train rides, rides by the elevator, going shopping or walks became the themes in Šigut's visualizations of time, as did recordings of the temperature of the environment, music, or movies, all into one window of the film - one slide. In the early 1990's Jiří abandoned the traditional photographic concept of the negative and positive. He has since recorded his activities and processes in nature directly onto the sensitive layer of the photographic paper, utilizing natural sources of light and energy (daylight, the moon, stars, fire, fireflies..) The function of the emulsion transcends its photographic function and represents the light-sensitivity of all matter. Jiří views his work of placing papers in nature (for days or weeks at a time) as a ritual activity. He says: "I am fascinated with the temporal capabilities of photographic paper to absorb light and energy. That potential to precisely reflect and record the ephemeral, to record the ancient processes and elements that have been lasting for millions of years and noticed by the first people on Earth. I often lack words to match my feelings but there are the papers bearing subtle traces of the wind's motion, the flow of the water, the fallen leaf... bearing the imprint of the world."
In his text The Birth of a Muse Josef Moucha, a Czech photography historian, counts Jiří Šigut among the twenty Czech authors (J. Sudek, F. Drtikol, J. Funke, J. Štýrský, E. Medková, J. Svoboda, J. Koudelka...), who pushed the envelope in terms of the use of the artistic potential of the photographic medium in the twentieth century.