Anima Mundi: World soul. Although attributed to Plato, the idea already existed in even earlier cultures. It is a force permeating matter, giving shape and function to its parts and its entirety. The assumption of an organizing principle. The theory appears again in the Renaissance to stay with us – from Paracelsus to Hegel – until modern thought, as the focal point of discussions on the order of things; or the structure of contingency.
Since earning the Louis Roederer Discovery Award in 2019 with the series “Kontakt”,  Máté Bartha has been working on a new, long-term photographic project, titled “Anima Mundi”. In his new work, Bartha takes on the role of a fictive observer, who tries to find a way of seeing and analyzing the world today so that it makes sense through all of its arbitrariness. He examines urban views and spaces that usually stay unnoticed during the everyday use of the urban environment, but there are moments or situations in which they suddenly trigger some kind of inexplicable interpretation compulsion in those who find themselves confronted with them. Whose interests do they serve? According to what (secret) system do they operate? What are they communicating and to whom? The interpretation of such urban phenomena is in constant flux: nostalgia and discovery can both change their boundaries. As an anti-banality urbexer, Bartha uses his camera to walk the streets of an unidentifiable metropolis amalgamated from different settlements around the world and records seemingly ordinary scenes that do not let him rest. Different grid structures that blend into the fabric of the city as metaphors for organization, as well as posters, which are a typical medium of urban communication, are prominent motifs of his images. Anima Mundi is a special Baedeker for those eternal skeptics who do not accept that what is presented to their eyes is what it is. 
- Emese Mucsi, curator

The project was funded by the József Pécsi National Scholarship for Photographers of Hungary.
The following installation views are from the first solo exhibition of the material at TOBE Gallery, Budapest, 2022, curated by Emese Mucsi, with a sound installation by composer Márk Bartha.
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