The Paths of Art History

ImageCaught the last panel on contemporary art of a new conference for art historians organised in Budapest and held at the MOME University, the highlight of which was Edit Andras’s witty presentation using characters from the film Reservoir Dogs to talk about the problems of Hungary art history. What was also interesting was the statement by the organisers during the final discussion that the conference was deliberately self-organised and funded to avoid having to submit to potential political interference. This could be an important step towards establishing a more independent forum to talk about Hungarian art history.

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Oskár Čepan Award

The winner of this year’s Oskár Čepan Award, the Slovak prize for young contemporary artists, will be announced on Thursday 20 September 2012, to coincide with the exhibition of the four finalists Tomáš Džadoň, Mira Gáberová, Oto Hudec and Matej Vakula. The winner gets a residency in New York, a solo show at the Slovak National Gallery, along with a cash prize of 2.600 euro, with the international jury (which includes Maja and Reuben Fowkes) making their final decision based on the artist’s work for the show.



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Time Out Budapest art news and reviews August 2012

The Two Faces of Chinese Contemporary Art This summer two of the city’s most prominent art spaces are highlighting the accomplishments of Chinese contemporary art, with the Museum of Fine Arts hosting a major show from a party-run museum with the politically-motivated title ‘Openness and Integration’, while the Ernst Museum has a solo exhibition of the world’s favourite contemporary artist and thorn in the side of the Chinese authorities, Ai Weiwei.

Balaton Art Festival One of the highlights of the festival will be an exhibition entitled ‘Neigh, Neigh’ by artist Beata Veszély, who as everyone knows is crazy about horses, and this year initiated a mobile art space in a horse box, known as the Trailer Gallery

Robert Mapplethorpe
Ludwig Museum****

Robert Mapplethorpe was a defining figure of the New York underground art scene and as this exhibition reveals, also an innovator in the world of contemporary photography. This show at the Ludwig Museum, made up of nearly 200 pictures by the artist whose life was cut short by the AIDS virus in 1989, features a representative selection of photographs from his spontaneous early Polaroids to the more contrived studio works realised during his final years.

PDF of Time Out Budapest Art August 2012 


Posted in Time Out Budapest

Time Out Budapest art news and reviews July 2012

Going for Gold at Documenta
‘While side-stepping the impossible expectations of the art world with the aphoristic one-liner that ‘the concept is to have no concept’, there are nevertheless important hints in this year’s Documenta as to where contemporary art may be headed. The curatorial statement is peppered with references to post-humanist thought, a radical branch of eco-philosophy that puts the non-human at the centre and represents a significant challenge to the individualist and anthropocentric assumptions of the art world.’ (pdf  version)

Russian Renaissance 2.0 (Knoll Galéria > Jul 28)****
‘The ‘Russian Renaissance’ referenced by the artists in this well-conceived group show is significantly double-edged. On the one hand, there is the ideology of Russian national revivalism that followed the period of perestroika and the break-up of the Soviet Union and is embodied in the chest-beating, macho self-image of President Putin. On the other, there is an implicit call for an alternative renaissance of the democratic spirit of self-organisation and self-expression represented by the courageous activists of the Russian Spring.’

Julita Wójcik: Wavy Block (Platan Galéria > Aug 31)****
‘While these modernist structures are often dismissed as ugly concrete blocks, families have over the years made efforts to humanise and personalise them, both using interior decoration and by creating colourful balconies that disrupt the homogenous face they otherwise turn to the outside world.’

Playground (Inda Galéria > Jul 20)***
‘At first sight, Playground appears to be a highly child-friendly exhibition, full of references to toys, fairy tales and games in the park. Scratch beneath the surface though and the dark side of play comes to the fore, with intimations of danger, trauma and violent social fantasies.’

Jonas Mekas: 365 Day Project (2B Galéria> Jul 6)***
‘The final result was an archive of thirty eight hours of edited material that embodies the artist’s vision of ‘living art’ as a process of everyday practices that combines the idea of actually lived life in the public and private spheres within the challenging new context of instantaneous communication on the world wide web.’

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Berlin Peace Wall to be Demolished

Artist Nada Prlja’s reflections on the disputes that arose surrounding her Peace Wall project for the Berlin Biennial, which is due to be removed two weeks ahead of time on 15 June 2012:

‘What caused argument and violence at the Peace Wall? Death threats against the artist and damaging the wall are out of proposition. Are loss of sales really the only reason for the massive aggression. Do the residents and shopkeepers understand the wall as an attack? What kind of missunderstanding are we confronted with? What tells the reaction about the general attitude towards art? Many residents and shopkeepers do not approve of the artistic intervention, that points as a symbol for social inequality on real boundaries and walls.

What are the responsible parties about to do in this case? Who is responsible anyway? The artist with her idea? The curator who picks the idea for his program? The institution which provides the technical requirements? Or the city of Berlin who authorized this artistic project? The peace wall cannot be defended at any cost. But what price do we have to pay if art which points for social inequality is removed from public space? The peace wall wants people to reflect and to provide a space for open discourse. Many people are cross about this disruption of everyday life. The residents close ranks in anger against this piece of art. Could it be that they see themselves excluded and degraded by this wall although they felt associated? Is the reason for all aggression located here?

Who is goint to support the art now? Who sticks to art that is not decorative but unsettling?
We hope for a peacefull confrontation with the ‘spirits’ that were cited by the peace wall. We want to face the boisterous yelling with silent mourning and take farewell from a symbol. This piece of art will vanish but the problems will remain.’

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Time Out Budapest art news and reviews June 2012

PDF version

The Past Reloaded
‘Today the debate around the fate of surviving left-leaning monuments to cultural and historical figures originally favoured by the communist regime has been dramatically reopened, while apologists for Admiral Horthy have begun to clamour for a statue of Hungary’s controversial wartime leader.’

Tamás Komoróczky – Ghost Trap
(Galeria Neon > 13 June)****
‘Komoróczky gives us a rendez-vous with the esoteric, tapping into hidden dimensions of existence whose sound is usually drowned out by the drone of the everyday, and reminding us that art does not have to be either trendy, political or commercial in order to be contemporary.’

EIKE – Private View (Deák Erika Galéria > 16 June)****
‘The exhibition is packed with mostly new work, predominantly video installations and digital prints, which circle the artist’s favourite themes of the creation of virtual space and the manipulation of the temporal axis of perception.’

Random (Mai Manó > June 17)****
‘The freewheeling curatorial concept of the exhibition is to select ‘atypical works that do not fit in or correspond to the artist’s earlier works, neither with regard to their theme, style or artistic orientation,’ adding an additional and potentially puzzling layer of randomness to the display.’

Veronika Romhány – Insignificants – The Collection (Studio Galéria > 12 June)****
‘As if to prove that anything is possible with ‘poor materials’, Veronika Romhány rescues discarded objects from oblivion, transforming them into elements of an all-encompassing micro-universe. Along with references to arte povera, there are echoes too of Tadeusz Kantor’s grandiose elevation of ordinary objects into the realm of fine art.’

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Theoretical and Critical Problems of the Margins Today

Boris Groys on the Ludwig Museum facebook page

The Ludwig Museum Budapest currently has a fascinating series of lectures by prominent art historians and theorists all committed to reassessing the marginal position of East European art more than two decades after the fall of communism.

Challenging the existence of a master narrative or dominant paradigm, the lecture series delves into the global market of ideas to test the boundaries of a pluralised art history.

Recently Slovenian theorist Marina Gržinić gave a talk entitled ‘A Passion for History in the Depoliticized and Castrated European Union Regime’, that rang true with the audience, despite the radicalism of her approach.

Yesterday celebrity philosopher and art theorist Boris Groys drew an even bigger audience for his lecture ‘On Similarity’, which touched all the right contemporary buttons, while refusing to be constrained by a purely regional (East European) take on art history.

More details on:

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Special issue of Autoportret Magazine

A special issue of the quarterly magazine devoted to the cultural phenomena of space published by the Malopolska Institute of Culture has been released. The issue, entitled ‘Identity after 1989’, addresses the topic of identities as expressed in urban space and architecture in the post-communist region.  English language pdfs of individual articles are available on their website

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Filmoteka opens at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw

A great new online resource for the study and enjoyment of Polish neo-avant-garde film has just opened it’s virtual doors:

Filmoteka of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw operates with the goal of digital protection and distribution of outstanding audiovisual works from Polish visual artists of the 20th and the early 21st century. Filmoteka is also a research and educational project embracing the media-related dimension of Polish art. Our mission is both to develop an archive within the Museum and to make films available on the Internet for the purposes of education and propagation – on behalf of the artists and under the imperative of unrestricted access to knowledge – to provide instant access to everyone interested in the field.

Curated by Łukasz Ronduda, the Filmoteka has a fantastic selection of rare videos by Polish contemporary artists, such as this very funny one by Grupa Azorro

Grupa Azorro, Ostatni film, 2010

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Time Out Budapest art news and reviews February 2012

Krisztina Renyi, The Kadar Era, 2011

FEATURE: Heroes of the Basic Law
(Heroes, Kings and Saints and the Illustrations of the Basic Law at the Hungarian National Gallery > 26 August)
‘The habit of using art to dictate a political message has a long and colourful history in Eastern Europe. Back in the Stalinist 1950s, artists were given a list of approved themes for state-run exhibitions, from Life is Good on the Collective Farm to portraits of socialist heroes from the national past. Echoes of such practices can be felt in the decision to commission Ft20 million worth of new paintings from contemporary artists dealing with approved topics from the last 150 years of Hungarian history as illustrations for the controversial new Hungarian constitution or Basic Law…(more)’



FEATURE: Just Say No (Tibor Horváth at ACB Galéria > 10 Feb)
‘The pun in the title of Tibor Horváth’s exhibition, in common with the humour that underpins this rebel artist’s work, is mostly at the expense of patriarchy and chauvinism. Domináns nem can be read either as ‘the dominant sex’, referring to dubious assumptions about the inherent leading role of males, or as the ‘dominant no’, pointing to the problem of denial in Hungarian politics. The many twists and turns in Hungarian political life over recent months have galvanised the artist to respond through intelligent visual commentary and energetic conceptual actions that range from word play and sketches to ideas materialised as crafted objects…(more)’



REVIEW: Natalia LL, Opus Magnum (Ernst Museum > 18 Mar)****
‘Billed by the museum as ‘one of the world’s most important feminist artists’, the hot topic of conversation among post-feminist critics at the opening was whether her most famous images were originally meant to be erotic and whether they still have the power to shock audiences. A favourite eye-catching cover picture for books on Polish conceptual art of the 1970s, the film and photographic series Consumer Art, show the artist fellating a banana, in a work that is usually explained in terms of a critique of the lack of consumer goods in communist Poland, with the tropical fruit representing the unattainable object of capitalist desire.’

REVIEW:  Planet Display (Trafó Galéria > 26 Feb)****
‘While the Miklós Surányi uses photography to creative a highly subjective visual diary, full of fleeting moments and poetic references to the sensuality of the natural world, as illuminated by the changing light conditions over time, Swedish artists Fäldt and Källström take a specific and more human-oriented situation as the focus for their photographic series. In other Trafó news, a campaign website has sprung up to collect views and opinions from international collaborators about the government’s decision to oust long-time director György Szabó at the helm of Hungary’s only ICA-type cultural institution.’

REVIEW: Retrospective (Videospace Galéria > 29 Feb)****
‘Eike has organised an intelligent ‘retrospective’ of the life and times of Videospace, consisting of a wall of photographs taken at openings of artists, curators and friends of the gallery, an informative time line wall display of the exhibition highlights over the last five years, as well as a selection of recent works by gallery artists. Extra poignancy to news of the impending gallery closure comes with the realisation that Videospace is the first major casualty among the small community of contemporary art galleries in Budapest of the economic downturn and general instability.’

REVIEW: Gruppo Tökmag (NextArt Gallery > 4 Feb)***
‘The essence of their approach to the problem of graffiti is to transfer original images from the street to the intrinsically opposite medium of knitwear. Discarding in a moment the psychological baggage of the macho graffiti artist, with his hidden identities and aggressive tagging of public property, the group has moved into the utterly apolitical and passive field of knitting.’

Art Editors / Time Out Budapest
Maja and Reuben Fowkes

Posted in Time Out Budapest

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