Curator: Adam K. Dominik
Emese Benczúr, Szilárd Cseke, Róza El-Hassan, Miklós Erdélyi
Lászlo Fehér, György Jovánovics, Tamás Kaszás, Szabolcs KissPál
Dóra Maurer, László Mulasics, János Sugár
What is the current Hungarian reality? This is a question without any easy answer, a question that many people of the country in the Danube region have tried to solve and that has remained relevant for many decades since the faith in values saturated with “Great History” was shaken.
Artists were not indifferent to the reality around them in the times of the former communist regime, nor are they in the current environment of ultranationalism and hedonistic consumerism. The need to creatively raise their voices and take an active part in an open discussion is stronger than the prevailing Budapest nihilism, and the governments there, showing no tolerance for freedom of expression and critical attitudes to their authoritarian dictatorship, have therefore until now denied many Hungarian artists their right to exhibit in public institutions.
The present situation is best reflected in the words of Dóra Maurer, one of the exhibiting artists: My name is now black again for cultural politics: I'm liberal and interested in “western”, not in national (low class) art and I'm a member of a clique which has influenced the art scene in Hungary in the past 20 years. We were slipping back into the late 1960s. The picture presented by Dóra Maurer does not leave any space for illusions... no matter whether it relates to the present nationalistic government of Viktor Orbán, Kádár’s times of the “Goulash Revolution” or the period of “wild” capitalism of the 1990s – independent artists have represented unwanted voices on the banks of the Danube.
The installation siliconvalse by Szabolcs KissPál, which is the artist’s reaction to the brutality of the world and represents a timeless message as relevant today as it was when it originated in 2001, is a significant example of critical attitude to reality. It is an attempt to answer the question asked in the beginning and the starting point for this exhibition, presenting the Hungarian independent artistic scene of the past forty years in a country metaphorically depicted as siliconvalse.
Despite unfavourable conditions – or perhaps mainly due to permanent attempts to displace art to the margins of life – many exceptional and in a way specific artistic personalities appeared in Hungary: Beginning with conceptualism and minimalism (Erdélyi, Maurer, Jovánovics) in the 1970s, through poetic painting of the transformation period (Fehér, Mulasics) and development of the avant-garde tradition (Sugar) to present-day extreme social engagement of artists (Cseke, El-Hassan, KissPál, Kaszás) using post-conceptual forms of expression to express their critical attitude towards the surrounding reality – Hungarian reality.
Adam K. Dominik