Reports

The exhibition focuses on the relationship between the official culture of the socialist era and the contemporary artworks reflecting upon that. The organisers attempted to pose the questions as to how this rather despised but robust legacy could be treated, what to do with the ideologically contaminated cultural heritage of this period, and how to regard the artworks of the socialist realist ’50s and those of the Kádár era both stemming from similar ideas but representing dissimilar ways of expression.
It is quite controversial how we relate to the socialist decades due to its recency directly involving our present, e.g. by a multitude of still open cases like the name change of streets and squares, the non-disclosure of the list of informants and state agents, and political efforts to hold people responsible for the terror (Lex Biszku). The attitudes towards the era alternate from nostalgia and embellishment to extreme refusal.
Paradoxically, the compulsive denial and reconstruction of certain things are both working in a space and context still characterized by the legacy of the same times. Parallel trends determine the mechanisms governing our response to the socialist art when we fail to classify scarcely any buildings constructed in the period as monuments, and when we keep valuable artworks in museum collections in perfect invisibility.
The main features of the exhibition consist of the diverse attitudes towards these issues: conscious abuse of symbols transmitting visual experience across generations, allusions to the cult of replication, exposure of works against suppression, and mindful strategies for processing the memory. The exhibit comprises creations of critical approach, concept ideas using visual aspects only as reference, and works processing personal biographical concerns. The invited artists coming from a wide range of generations and countries display broadly divergent perspectives.

The exhibition takes place in Fészek Artists’ Club, founded in 1901, which was transformed during the Kádár regime in a way that created a peculiar symbiosis of the bourgeois milieu and socialist modernism. Fészek played a special role at this time by working as a transitional zone on the borders of different cultural policies.

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