Zuzana Pustaiová


Zuzana Pustaiová (born 1990 in Levice, Slovakia) started her interest in visual arts with painting but soon switched to photography, which she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia, and University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld, Germany. She completed her doctoral degree in arts in January 2022 and become the doctor of arts.

In her artworks, Pustaiová explores role-playing in contemporary society as a principal element that forms the relationships between family members, relatives, friends, or other diverse social groups. With a sense of wit, humor and irony, she uncovers the cultural stereotypes related to gender, age, tradition, and social inclusion.

She has received numerous awards in contemporary photography (Grand Prix at the Rovinj Photodays 2021, finalist at the Images Vevey, finalist at the Grand Prix Bialystok Interphoto 2021, 1st Prize at the Rovinj Photodays 2018, finalist for the Lucie Foundation Scholarship in Los Angeles 2017, etc.), and in 2018 she was named Slovak Photographer of the Year.
Pustaiová lives and works in Levice and in Bratislava.

The project Masks (since 2020) is a visual research of the question “How many second I do we have?”. Based on the dramaturgical sociology of Erwing Goffmann and theory of wearing masks in everyday life I’m looking for many of my second I.
Masks are in fact self-hybridizations of a woman’s (and generally human’s) natural appearance with what she/he is expected to look like by “society”. But who or what is a “ society” here? An abstract entity that is impossible to encompass nor comply with. And yet, so many people are eager to satisfy the society’s expectations, considering them natural, without even thinking about the root concept, which yields just the opposite – artificiality in behavior and restraint in personal freedom.
The sociologist Robert Ezra Park wrote in his text Race and Culture (1950) this idea which describe my topic in the best possible way:

“It is probably no mere historical accident that the word person, in its first meaning, is a mask. It is rather a recognition of the fact that everyone is always and everywhere, more or less consciously, playing a role… It is in these roles that we know each other; it is in these roles that we know ourselves. […] In a sense, and in so far as this mask represents the conception we have formed of ourselves – the role we are striving to live up to – this mask is our truer self, the self we would like to be. In the end, our conception of our role becomes second nature and an integral part of our personality. We come into the world as individuals, achieve character, and become persons.”
© 2020-ongoing