Hard to believe at first, but it seems to be true that Hungary’s second most important art space, the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, will find itself from 1st January 2013 under the ownership and control of an ultra conservative arts organisation, the Hungarian Academy of Arts or MMA, which has stealthily been installed as the leading authority for Hungarian art, with its preeminent position written in to the new constitution or Basic Law and bolstered by a huge grant from the government. This coup de force has triggered protest letters and petitions from both private gallerists and the Hungarian branch of AICA, who warn that the move will undo decades of progress towards the integration of Hungarian contemporary art within international circuits.
The political and aesthetic views of the president of the MMA, whose name is Feketeand often also dresses in black, are well symbolised by the fact that he earlier criticised the director of the Műcsarnok for his show Mi a Magyar?/What is Hungarian? for ‘blaspheming’ the Hungarian nation, which was ironic considering that most art critics had rightly recognised the exhibition as basically in line with the government’s nationalist cultural agenda and that Gábor Gulyás had himself been directly appointed to the position by the government, overriding the usual procedures and against the wishes of progressives in the art world. Cue fellow-traveller GG’s resignation, and the penny finally drops that only mind-blowingly ultra-traditionalist tendencies are welcome in the shrinking world of state-sponsored Hungarian art.
* Fun Boy Three 1981