She was born 20 September 1952 in Sárvár, into an assimilated Roma family. She attended elementary and high school here. Between 1969-81, she worked as a paediatric nurse.
In 1985, she began to photograph professionally; she learned the profession from her husband, György Stalter. (See his biography in this volume.) Under his influence, she became conscious of the importance of her own background, to accept it and to take the responsibility to aid the fate of gypsies in Hungary, with her own means. This meant to present their human and emotional values, through a sociographic exploration and documentation – within their overwhelming poverty.
Between 1990-95, she was photo editor and photojournalist for the Roma magazine, Amaro Drom (Our Path) – under the direction of Béla Osztojkán, and then for three years she was editor-in-chief. In 1994 – together with her husband – they were awarded the Essay Award of the Hungarian Press Photo competition. When she finally felt that within the politicised media world, a “minority” magazine was unable to create something human, novel and useful, she became independent.
Together with her husband, for over ten years, they essentially photographed the life of the Roma in Hungary, living in the most typical gypsy settlements and in the ghettoised districts of Budapest. In 1998, their joint album, entitled Más Világ (Another World), was published, in which they broke with the bipolarised schematic of the visual presentation of the subject until that point (either sociographic documentation, or an idealised nostalgia for the “free existence”) – they were able to portray the individual (with their desires, with their smile, with their tears…), as just the same human being. The volume elicited a great response, and the exhibitions presenting the photos also made an extraordinary impact around the world. Journalist György Kerényi writes in the preface to the book: “In these photos, the absence is not a void, and not inhuman, but rather this poverty is very human.”
In 2002, they established the Kópia Fotógaléria (Copy Photo Gallery), giving space to presenting talented colleagues and students in group and solo exhibitions. At the same time, they engage continuously in the teaching of, and assistance to, young photographers.
Her 2010 exhibition at Mai Manó, entitled Csalóka Látszat (Deceptive Appearances) – and the volume published privately – presents a new dimension in approach on the variegated palette of existence-past-femininity-memory-desire. In the large-scale colour photographs, it is not the object that becomes the individual, but rather the object and its milieu that compel the viewer to search for the vanishing individual in themselves. Judit M. Horváth says of her exhibition: “Proceeding from my own background, mental constitution, and last but not least, my female nature, Reality and Fables are tightly interwoven in my eyes, and the narrow borderland between them is permeable. I easily step from one into the other, and my pictures are born from my uncertainty springing from this dual state of mind…”
Most recently, under the title Privát képek (Private Images, in collaboration with Ildi Herman), she confessed about her own shocking, personal fate, which could “catch up” with any of us, at any time – with unmercifully naked honesty.
Between 1998 and 2012, she had six solo shows and took part in twelve group exhibitions – from New York to Sárvár – with her photographs.
She is a member of the Hungarian Press Association and the Association of Hungarian Photographers.
Her photographs are held at the Hungarian Museum of Photography, the Historical Photographic Archives of the Hungarian National Museum, and the Körmendi-Csák Collection of 20th Century Hungarian Photography.
Judit M. Horvath and Gyorgy Stalter have documented the lives of Hungarian Roma gypsies for more than 15 years. Their photos are filled with joy, tenderness and love — and argue against prejudice and stereotypes.