YOUNG CONTEMPORARY STATEMENTS FROM HUNGARY
An independent professional jury selected the ten artists representing Hungary at the JCE Biennial from the Hungarian exhibition entitled Young Contemporary Statements. I curated and organised this show in one of the abandoned buildings of the Zsolnay porcelain factory in Pécs. I selected the work of the 38 artists and artist groups presented from a competition call on the internet (www.fika.hu). The aim was not merely to find the artists to represent Hungary at the biennial commencing on its European journey, but also to offer a kind of situation report on Hungarian art committed to social issues, and to present it to those interested – who day in day out live within the conditions and milieu criticised through the artworks.
The artists featured in a common space at the event realised with the aid of the programme series for the year leading up to European Cultural Capital Pécs 2010, contemplated and developed an opinion on the fundamental problems, tensions and impasses encountered in present-day Hungary, and in the wider context, in the entire globalised world. It is no longer negligible that all this was born in the era of spreading crisis, which certainly did not start just yesterday, but here and now it is unique and general, earthshaking – and particularly Hungarian. For this reason, we were and are interested in how the young generation thinks, and how they react to the past, present and future, as well as how they interpret artistic position in 2009 Hungary.
The exhibition realised in Pécs endeavoured to present the intellectual, formal and inspirational plurality of critical approaches, and I hoped that it would reveal much about the reality surrounding us, while analysing our problems in original and individual voices. While criticism of the status quo and crises of various forms and nature might seem Sisyphusian, this is indisputably one of the most significant objectives of art. To reflect on the current injustices and inequalities, social space prescribed from above, and within this, the individual, is possible above all with a renewed artistic vocabulary, which must be free from any possible charge of elitism. The “spirit” of art in the 21st century has once again taken on a new form – which naturally has also come into the consciousness of Hungarian artists.
The ten artworks presented here offer realistic and profound analysis of the crisis which touches upon nearly every aspect of today’s Hungarian society. They react to important questions, including the past of the country, which has been buried, but while it has been exhumed again and again, is still not thoroughly comprehended; the media’s ever increasingly divisive and stupefying shock factor mechanism; and the damage and dangers of excessively rapidly ensuing, insatiable consumption, which proceed from the ignorance of civil rights and the absence of determined acts. In their universality, they inform of the crises of our everyday realities – those with which, among others, due to the weakness of the Hungarian art market, the exhibiting artists are also seriously confronted.
The artists in this selection have committed themselves to dialogue and critical commentary, in the mapping of various layers and outward forms of incomprehensibly tolerated extremes and the ordinary everyday. While the artworks have decidedly proceeded from the contemporary Hungarian context, their vocabulary, nonetheless, is comprehensible and fresh – their ironic way of looking at things will also transmit a sensitive panorama to the international audience.
We believe, just as Gábor Csordás expressed in an interview given to Eurozine about Hungary, that “culture in itself would be an antidote, especially its European version, with its critical, subversive character; with its ability to turn upside down all inveterate beliefs and prejudices; with its restless search for new vocabularies that make old stupidities seem senseless.” (Eurozine.com, 30 August 2007)_