Born 27 September 1959 in Debrecen. In 1980, she received her high school diploma from the photography department of the Vocational High School of Fine and Applied Arts in Budapest. Subsequently, she became the photographer for the Educational Techniques Centre of the Kossuth Lajos University of Sciences, and then from 1985, for feature film shoots (primarily for works directed by Ferenc Grünwalsky, Miklós Jancsó, György Szomjas, Szabolcs Hajdu (Zoltán Kamondy, Ildikó Szabó)); and theatre performances (Egyetemi Színpad [University Stage], Merlin Színház, Új Színház, Katona József Színház [Theatres]). She has also documented continuously for the archive of the Hungarian Theatre Institute.
Between 1987-91, she was a member of the Studio of Young Photographers (FFS). From 1990 until 2010, she worked for the journal, Beszélő (Commentator).
“She almost always produces unique images, which do not tolerate captions or commentary… they are full of meaning in themselves, floating” – András Bán writes about her on Artportal. She uses an extraordinary wide range of tones; she always enlarges her own black and white photographs made with analogue technique. We could call her works “lyrical reports”, but every shot, delicately processed, is rather the fixing of profound human feelings and atmospheres, “existences”.
From the mid-1980s, she began to travel the world, searching for the “lyrical” in the visual representation of man-landscape-emotion (in Transylvania, (Poland), Russia, USA, in danger-zones weighed down by war and poverty).
To quote András Bán once again: “Based on her preparedness and missions, she is a professional photographer, but her mentality has preserved something of the innocence of the passer-by looking around her”.
In 1981, she had her first solo exhibition at the famous Bercsényi Dormitory of the Budapest Technical University (BME), and this was followed by more than sixty solo and group shows from Debrecen to London and New York. Nearly thirty of her series are on view in her online database – and it is worth taking a look!
Between 1991-94, she received a Pécsi József Scholarship, and she also took part in the manifestations of Dokumentum (Document) in Veszprém and the Első Alkotócsoport (First Creative Group).
Her volume, Fotóbrancs (Photo-Branch) was published in 1994, and Látókép megállóhely (Sight Station) was published by Magvető Kiadó in 1998. More recent publications: Fényképmoly (Photo-Worm) 2004, Single Lens 2008.
She was awarded the Székely Aladár Prize of the Soros Foundation in 1999, as well as the Balogh Rudolf Award in the same year. Following the Special Award of the Esztergom Photo Biennial, she also won the Grand Prize of Hungarian Photography (2007), and was named Artist of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. She was also named Distinguished Artist in 2012.
Szilágyi’s works are held in many public and private collections: BP Oil Europe Collection, The New York Public Library, Musée de la Photographie Lausanne, the Hungarian Museum of Photography, the Szabó Ervin Library Budapest Collection, the Institute of International and Hungarian Theatre History, MAFILM Photo Archive, and the Körmendi-Csák Collection of 20th Century Hungarian Photography.