The case studies mark the beginning of the project’s new phase. These exhibition and project examples from the last 20-25 years endeavor to expand—based on interpretations from a local perspective—the meaning of the concepts already delineated in the Curatorial Dictionary. Currently, the majority of the texts are case studies selected and written by the dictionary working group members (Balázs Beöthy, Nikolett Erőss, Zsófia Frazon, Eszter Lázár, and Eszter Szakács), which, drawing on art practices in Hungary, include reflections on international curatorial and contemporary art discourse, or instances that sometimes diverge from the terms’ dominant understanding.

In March 2015, we put forth in the framework of’s Free School for Art Theory and Practice to explore curatorial and art practices in the region loosely defined as Eastern Europe as well as to examine their (cor)relations in the “East” and “West” of Europe. As a first step in this research endeavor, two of the Free School’s invited participants, Saša Nabergoj and Emily Pethick, through presenting a project realized in Ljubljana and one in London, (re-)interpret in their texts the concept of the curatorial based on their own, local contexts. The text describing the term Funding by Magda Radu, the Free School’s third invited participant, looks at familiar international processes, while also giving insights into the Bucharest art scene. 



Alenka Pirman: Collected Works (Saša Nabergoj)

The Butterfly Effect —The Coordinates of the Moment Before Discovery (Nikolett Erőss)

Contact Zone—Intercultural Dialog and Collaboration in the Museum of Ethnography (Zsófia Frazon) 

Dominic Hislop – Miklós Erhardt, Saját szemmel/Inside Out (Nikolett Erőss) 

Etnomobil (Zsófia Frazon)

The Fourth Model? Documents/Reflections/Discussions (Eszter Lázár)

Impex—Contemporary Art Provider (Eszter Szakács)

Joanna Rajkowska: Airways (Nikolett Erőss)

Other Voices, Other Rooms —Attemept(s) at Reconstruction. The 50 Years of the Balázs Béla Studio (Balázs Beöthy)

Parallel Chronologies (Eszter Lázár) 

Ricardo Basbaum, re-projecting (london) (Emily Pethick)

Two Artists, Two Curators (KMKK) (Balázs Beöthy)

Újlak Group (Balázs Beöthy)

Yona Friedman: Architecture without Building (Nikolett Erőss)


Alenka Pirman: Collected Works [1]
International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (MGLC), November 18, 2014 –March 8, 2015


Alenka Pirman (1964) finished studying painting at the Art Academy in Ljubljana in 1989, and since then established herself as one of the leading artists of her generation. She was and is still is engaged on different levels in the world of art and beyond. Pirman acted as an art magazine editor, an art director, an art administrator, a vice president of an international network of contemporary art, a founder of curatorial school, a visiting professor at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, even a taxi driver, and a waitress. Her different lines of work (especially tactics and strategies she uses) have always intertwined with her art practice, and it is impossible to separate them. In her artistic work, she is usually interested in disclosing the structure, the grid and is therefore often using the tactic of appropriation, mimicry, or manipulation. Pirman’s works are often ephemeral, or better put, immaterial (she actually works very hard to leave behind as little as possible) and are frequently linked to various situations that are specific in terms of space and subject, to which she responds. She follows a belief that a work of art should trigger mental operations, create experiences, and that should be the aim of an artist's production, not the art works, objects, or remains (such as the documentation of public actions). Therefore, she is also very precise when it comes to questions of display and distribution of ideas.

The process of making Alenka Pirman. Collected Works, the first comprehensive overview of Pirman's work in the last 25 years, the artist’s mid-career retrospective exhibition at the MGLC, International Center of Graphic Arts [2], was a case of collective research-based curatorial work in close collaboration with the artist, who was an integral member of the curatorial team. Curatorial work was keeping with the method the artist employs in her work: it was processual, research-based, and brought together different individuals with different specialties over a long time span (the whole process lasted almost three years). Pirman has, in her practice, often touched upon topics from a wider cultural, sociological, political, and even ideological realm, and has therefore often instigated, put together, and lead temporary teams of experts from different disciplines, from computer science to linguistic theory. Following a similar logic, when putting together the curatorial team, MGLC carefully selected a core team, curators with different background (from local public institutions to the alternative scene). The team also involved various contributing individuals on both the research and formative parts of the curatorial process: some of them were already participants in her artistic projects, some were asked to reflect or contribute to the curatorial questions related to the project, some contributed to the accompanying program.

Questions the team faced were numerous. How to show a variety of different approaches when it comes to exhibiting an art practice that trespasses its traditional boundaries and operates between different disciplines? How to deal with the presentations of research projects that the artist developed over years, and ways to work with an artistic practice that denies repetition and disregards not just objects as important elements of art practice but even the concepts or conceptual backbones of the projects? Also, how to incorporate the artist’s almost stubborn distance towards institutional consecration and historicization with a medium such as a mid-career retrospective exhibition in a well established institution in Slovenia?

I would argue that the exhibition succeeded in realizing various things: the first major solo exhibition by Alenka Pirman, a survey of her work from 1989 to 2014, managed to create a complex program that merged the artist's approach with the research and distribution of her artistic ideas, and also preserved her distinctive, lucid humor, as well as her personal and collective histories that helped building a context for reading the works. The project started in 2011 with a period in which the artist was financially supported by the institution [3], researched, collected, and arranged her (already well-organized) archive of works (finished ones, phases of different stages in the development of her projects, paraphernalia, texts, found objects, sketches, clippings of media coverage, etc.). Then one year prior to the exhibition, in 2013, the curatorial team set to work. It comprised of Nevenka Šivavec, the director of MGLC, who has been collaborating with Alenka Pirman as a curator from the beginning of Pirman’s career, also the initiator of the whole project; Božidar Zrinski, MGLC curator, one of first curatorial students of Pirman, when she was heading the World of Art, School for Curators (in the framework of SCCA-Ljubljana); Barbara Borčić, one of the pioneers of the alternative scene of the 1980s, known for her thorough editorial work, also a long-time professional companion of the artist; and Pirman herself, in a rather problematic position that is, however, in synch with her practice as an artist. They met once a week, from the beginning they were simultaneously discussing not only the exhibition, the selection of works, and its potential display, but also the accompanying program: exhibition guiding tours, workshops, walks, lectures, publications, even a newly opened museum shop that was tailor made around Pirman’s work.

The team managed to address the specificities of each work and each of them was presented in well-thought format. Their reflective in-depth orientated modus operandi ensured the necessary discipline in decisions about the methods of representation and the arrangement of the material. Some works were presented by actual artefacts, or rather their usually not that well-preserved leftovers, some by visual and audio documents, others were to a certain extent reenacted (as the artist never wants to repeats herself, the process of course did not rely on simple repetition). Sometimes they integrated new reconstructions ofsome works, including materials that were first presented as parts of the wider context of the works: press clippings of media coverage, invitations to previous exhibitions, reconstructions, transcriptions of documents that were read or performed. Other works have been developed further, conceptualized and presented for the occasion of this exhibition. Such is the example of The Case. Art and Criminality.

In 2005 Pirman—together with Igor Zabel, curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana and Biserka Debeljak, a long-time curator at the Museum of the Internal Affairs Agency (today, the Slovenian Police Museum)—organized an exhibition around the status of the document in the construction of artworks and that of the document in criminal proceedings. The exhibition was built on an actual case chosen by Biserka Debeljak from the Police Museum’s collection. The documents (indirect evidence, court records, crime scene photographs, etc.) were exhibited face down in a display case at the Mala galerija (a small gallery, at that time a separate project space of the Museum of Modern Art). As Pirman states, she was interested in the evocative power of the authentic document and its significance in both artistic and criminal activities, [4] which was confirmed by the frustrated response of the audience, who could only see the backside of the documents. Ten years later the artist, together with a new curator, Darinka Kolar Osvald, of the newly established/ renovated museum, turned the situation around. They reconstructed the same case for the exhibition, but this time in the premises of the Police Museum and with the documents face up. The case was revealed.

Other segments of the project included independent yet intertwined elements: workshops, lectures, talks, walks, an exhibition guide, a catalogue, a museum shop, which together with exhibition formed the whole.Let us take as an example the workshop of phatic speech, There'll Be Good Weather This Year!, conducted by Tomaž Gubenšek, actor and professor of speech at the Academy of Theater, Radio, Film, and Television. It was developed to bring another potential view to the In the Lift project;an on and off going project since 1999, where Pirman, who has been living in the same flat on the sixth floor for 47 years, started to take notes of small talk in the elevator. From 1999 to 2003, she wrote more than 60 dialogues. The work again had different formats of presentation (from collage with typed dialogues alongside a photo of the inside of the elevator, to comic strips based on dialogues and drawn by Tibor Bolha in 2013-2014, that was published in an album by the Domestic Research Society in 2014). At MGLC, the project was presented with blown-ups of comics covering the scaffolding in front of the museum and the corridors leading to the exhibition and with three collages with typed dialogues in the exhibition. Mainly members of the cultural field attended the workshop and discussed about the theory and practice of the “small talk.” The whole project worked on many different levels and managed to attract both professional and general public, as well as significant media attention due to—I would argue again—the precise curatorial, editorial, and organizational work, as well as the project’s reflective and long-term modus operandi. Each part of project (survey exhibition, catalogue, satellite project, workshops, walks, talks, guiding tours of different individuals, etc.) were from the beginning integral elements of the curatorial work, in a true interdisciplinary approach.

These facts have gained even more importance in the current situation, where in the last decade (or more), cultural policies paved and forced the way towards multi-production in the cultural sphere. In other words, in 2015 the budget for culture has been the smallest since the existence of Slovene Ministry of Culture (since the beginning of the 1990s)—as the almost exclusive source for the funding of contemporary art—yet, the number of cultural projects taking place are the highest ever. The budget cuts and the simultaneous move towards statistically verifying with data the diverse number of cultural projects resulted in the overproduction of small, modest, cheap, short term projects (some venues in Ljubljana have more then 20 exhibitions per year) and the lack of ambitious, research and process-based  exhibition programs in Slovenia, especially since 2008. Such projects as Alenka Pirman. Collected Works bring back the awareness of slowing down and stopping the production urge. It also delineates what “normal” working conditions should be: a longer span of time that allows for research, reflection, and time to digest, to develop ideas and specific, tailor made models based on the close collaboration of individuals on the presentation of (any) artistic work.

Consequently, the curatorial team not on only worked on realizing the exhibition, they also reflected on the exhibition strategies and carefully analyzed their modus operandi in an institutional setting and its placement in wider cultural and cultural policy context. With putting some of the elements in the spot light, for example, the simple fact that the artist was paid for arranging her materials to even start working on the exhibition, the team acted also as important political agents in a struggle in the cultural domain and for its future. The final outcome, the exhibition thus also sheds light on the specificities of the context of an art system in Eastern Europe, where many “alternative” artists have been constructively filling in the gaps in the art system (such as the lack of professional galleries, even curatorial training programs, etc.). On the other hand, I would also argue that the process of making Alenka Pirman. Collected Works, therefore also departed from its rather specific context, especially when it came to the method of operation. The curatorial process implemented many of the specific DIY and DIWO strategies that have—in close connection with the socialist self-management model—marked not only art practices in Yugoslavia, but also shaped many of those of today’s artists.

Saša Nabergoj


The Butterfly Effect—The Coordinates of the Moment Before Discovery
Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest, January 20 – February 25, 1996


In Hungary, the 1990s brought a slow change in the modes and venues of the display of art. Although it took a while for a contemporary art museum or a large-scale exhibition space to be established, artists started to present their works more often outside the institutional framework of art. By presenting their work in abandoned or unused buildings or in non-art spaces, artists were able to loosen up the constrained and controlled forms of encountering artworks.

The most representative exhibitions of contemporary art in Hungary were presented, almost exclusively, in places that, in one way or another, changed their functions. This posed serious challenges to the curators and the organizers of exhibitions. In the Buda Castle, in place of the Museum of Labor Movement, the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art was opened (at that time, as part of the Hungarian National Gallery), or the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, which was originally built to house salon exhibitions, was likewise resistant to contemporary display. That is, the buildings provided place, yet the contemporary art works were not able to embody the space.

Media art exhibitions that merged scientific and art contexts appeared in the mid-1990s as a new type of exhibition. The large-scale media art and history exhibition, The Butterfly Effect, organized at the Műcsarnok in 1996 by the Budapest Soros Center for Contemporary art (SCCA), attempted for the first time in Hungary to collocate historical and theoretical contexts to media art.  At the exhibition, Hungarian and international media art installations—many of which were made specifically for this occasion—were presented alongside media-archeological objects, thus accentuating the scientific and historical background of contemporary media art as well as the proximity of these two contexts: the connections between scientific and artistic image production.

The presentation of optical devices and illusion generating machines—originally made for scientific purposes and later, in many cases, popularized as spectacles, and now serving as museological objects—in parallel with contemporary art works contributed towards recognizing and interpreting as art contemporary works that are made with the involvement of technical mediums. (In 1996, the Internet and digital image production were not widely accessible, and their artistic application was likewise in an experimental phase).

At the exhibition, shown in the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, one of the most representative exhibition halls in Budapest, with more than 2000 m2, the majority of the media archeological objects were placed in free standing glass display cases; however, several objects were displayed without a case, hence granting the visitors free access to them. The historical materials were displayed in accordance with the display conventions of museums of technological history, in a more loose manner: the installations activated the space, which was balanced with the strict order of the framed tableaus, drawings, etchings placed on the wall. Due to the arrangement of space within the Műcsarnok (a three-nave building with a transept and an apse), there were no fixed routes within exhibition. This choice—which also revoked the concept of history as a linear narrative manifested in the arrangement of space—was further foregrounded with the positioning of freestanding and cased objects into the space. The contemporary media art installations, several of them interactive pieces, received spacious, often individual sections. This generosity, nevertheless, was necessitated by the accommodation to the Műcsarnok’s parameters; the immense interior space of the building—that hardly adjusts to the (technical and spatial) challenges of contemporary installations—cannot be easily dissected. Another aspect of the exhibition was a spot for internet access. Through computers, placed on long tables, visitors could browse webpages, which was fairly uncommon during those years.

The Butterfly Effectwas unique, not primarily in installation technique and method, the exhibition presenting spectacles did not intend to compete with the displayed objects and art works. Rather, this exhibition is noteworthy due to its approach: juxtaposing art and non-art, demonstrating the myriad possible juncture points of these two contexts, perpetually cross-referencing the contemporary and the historical, and, as a result, its rich thematics.

The SCCA was, in many respects, atypical among the art institutions in Hungary. Its international network and dynamism were complemented with a firm financial background, which, at that time, enabled for unique exhibitions to be realized. Therefore, SCCA and its exhibitions were not affected by the deficiencies of cultural funding by the state and cumbersome institutional infrastructure. The exhibition had an outstanding number of visitors, 30,000 total; its success contributed towards establishing, as a successor to SCCA, C3 (Center for Culture, and Communication) in cooperation with Silicon Graphics Hungary and Matáv (Matáv Hungarian Telecommunications Company). C3 went on to later organize exhibitions with international collaborations, similar to The Butterfly Effect’s approach (Perspective, 1999; Vision—Image and Perception, 2002; Kempelen—Man in the Machine, 2007; Blickmaschinen—Visual Tactics or How Pictures Emerge, 2009). Curator/co-curator of these exhibitions and numerous media art and media history events was the director of C3, Miklós Peternák

Today, C3, similarly to several SCCA initiations in the East-Central European region, has lost much of its significance; its activity is minimized and the large-scale, widely visited exhibitions came to a halt in the second half of the 2000s. The slow decline is a result of both institutional (and in strong correlation with it) financial factors, while, media art—mainly because of the C3’s activities—has basically become integrated within Hungary into the exhibition display of contemporary art.

Nikolett Erőss


Contact Zone—Intercultural Dialog and Collaboration in the Museum of Ethnography
Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, 2009


The workshop series Contact Zone—Intercultural Dialog and Collaboration in the Museum of Ethnography was realized on the occasion of the exhibition The Other—Millennial Beliefs, Fatal Fallacies, Cultural Diversity as an experimental program, as a reflection on the themes explored in the exhibition. [5] The objective of the Contact Zone project was to initiate a form of cultural dialogue between the collection and knowledge of the museum and “one’s own,” everyday experiences. For instance, how can the objects collected from migrants’ culture and now stored in the museum become tools for cultural dialogue?What is the role of the museum in the process of understanding? The project was built on the concept of dialogue, meeting, and collaboration. The organizers of the program (Márton Kemény, Gabriella Vörös, Júlia Vörös) worked with migrants living in Budapest who participated as equal partners in the interpretation of objects with ethnic traits. The objects were concomitantly the point of departure, catalyst, and medium of the analysis. Some of the objects were from the collection of the museum, others were from the migrants’ own lives and homes.

The real potential of the project was its two-sided interpretation that acknowledged that the cultural interpretation of the other is meaningless without involvement and collaboration. Thus, the project took place with 15 participants (migrants and museologists), on six occasions, which was directed by a “professional” moderator. Polyphony and competitive thoughts reflecting on one another created the working environment, and the “museum as contact zone” [6] provided the theoretical background. The broader methodology was based on the reflective turn in cultural anthropology taking place since the 1980s that, as a methodological response to the crisis of scientific narratives, provided space beyond interpretation for new, previously unknown voices, such as those of migrants, women, children, elderly, or the unemployed. In the project, dialogues were formed around single objects, and migration changed the position of the researcher and the researched (the migrant went to the museum), and the museum enabled for a special space of dialogue.

Contact Zonewas an intriguing experiment for collaboration, for a collective development of museological knowledge and representation, and it made discernable that members of a particular culture can be involved as equal partners in the interpretations of another culture. The museum thus also became a focus point where not only researchers could meet migrants, but also migrants could meet one another. The knowledge of ethnographers and anthropologists researching in the field builds on participation, collaborative observation, understanding, description, and interpretation. After the critical turn of empirical social sciences, multi and polyvocality, dialogue, critique, and the democratic use of the space found their way into ethnographic praxis. Contact Zone endeavored not only to integrate these thoughts, but also went further: the museum/collection become the “field,” where migrants themselves came in, thus destabilizing established rules and borders (here and there), and enabling for a simultaneous presence of various perspectives.

The actual query of this pilot project was whether museological work around cultural otherness can meet the expectations and cultural needs of migrants; in other words, can scientific theories about ethnic identities and “insider” experiences be correlated in an artificial situation, created especially for this? A migrant from Peru, Udmurtia (Russia), Greece, Ukraine worked together with museologists, and they posed questions collectively, such as how do migrants see the process through which their objects or even the mummified body parts of their ancestors are transported to the museums of distant countries? Are they able to form any kind of personal relations to the objects the museum preserved from their culture? Do they find museological objects worthy of preservation? Do these objects play any role in preserving their identities? What kind of objects did they bring with them, which remained significant for them also in Hungary form their own (Andean, Udmurt, Greek, and Rusin) cultures and everyday lives? Another objective was also to refine the focus points (pre-)defined by the museum by inserting alternative and subjective accounts. The participants had no or little practice in carrying out such a strategy, its realization had professional and pedagogical aspects as well.

To represent in museums various viewpoints and personal accounts instead of the single, dominant narrative is pivotal—not only in an art, but also in social museums as well. Yet, one cannot think about this purely in theoretical terms. The intention of this pilot project was precisely this: to find practices corresponding to ideas know from theoretical literature. The project was not a public event; nevertheless, partial results and the its documentation were made available [7] on the Contact Zone blog [8] created especially for this purpose, and an analysis of the project was also published.[9] The insights and some elements of the project’s methodology were integrated into the educational events at the Museum of Ethnography. [10] Furthermore, the project’s outcome can also be seen in a three-year research program that ended in 2014 in the framework of the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA, led by cultural anthropologist György Szeljak), the most significant part of which was also related to the museological analysis of the personal objects of migrants living in Hungary. [11] The outcomes of the Contact Zone pilot project hence are visible, so far, not within the exhibitions of the Museum of Ethnography rather in the theoretical approach of the museologists. The project enabled for such critical attitudes and research propositions that are continuously integrated into the representational machine of the Museum of Ethnography, and through which the cultural and artistic insights manifested in objects may be read in a more stratified and detailed way. All of this was possible due to the methodology of collaboration that went beyond participation.

Zsófia Frazon


Dominic Hislop–Miklós Erhardt, Saját szemmel/Inside Out


In the post-1989 history of art in Hungary, the project Saját szemmel/Inside Out is a pivotal yet unparalleled example of artistic collaboration with marginalized communities, which not only allowed for these communities to be seen, but also let them speak, without homogenizing the individuals’ personal traits. Dominic Hislop was studying around this time in Budapest and Miklós Erhardt was a student at the Intermedia Department at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, their collaboration came to be known as Big Hope (1998–2004). In the framework of Inside Out, the artists provided several homeless people in Budapest with disposable cameras, asking them to take pictures of their everyday lives, to document what they find important. The exhibited photos [12] were also selected mostly by the participants, hence the artists’ initiation (the invitation to participate) though delineated but not determined the ways of their self-representation. The images were displayed with the names and the commentaries of the people who took them, which underpinned even more the voices rarely heard in public. The exhibition was presented both in an art context and in the context of homelessness, in the ceremonial hall of the then biggest homeless shelter in Budapest. 

The project relativized the hegemony of the artistic gesture, positing the images makers as authors. Nevertheless, the authorship undoubtedly remained with the initiators—the artists refer to themselves on the project’s website [13] as “project organizers”—, which, on the one hand, made their responsibility unavoidable, and on the other hand, it did not allow for the inevitable and hierarchized situations developed through the course of the project to appear balanced in the name of heightened correctness. The project provided homeless people deprived of the right to speak and the possibility of social mobility with visibility and it let their voices heard. Inside Out refrained from generating more direct social dialogues. The project is complemented with many text-based commentaries, and the homeless people are not the only speakers. The commentaries corresponding to the photos are informal and reflect the directness of oral speech just as much as the artist texts documenting and theoretically contextualizing the project are reflective.

The especially sensitive topic, due to the vulnerability of homeless people and the lack of social discourse around homelessness, propelled the artists to analyze in depth, through texts, their own positions and intents; their commentaries, the wide spectrum of the issues’ international survey, are just the counterpoint of the photo’s immediacy. The criticism (of the system) immanent in the project can be grasped in the emancipatory gesture that successfully avoids the pitfalls of patronizing art: the goodwill that infantilizes or instrumentalizes the participants.

The Inside Out photo project’s presentation as an exhibition and on the project’s website accommodated to the theme’s proximity and ordinariness; it did not use far-fetched spectacular elements, neither in the physical nor in the virtual space.

Nikolett Erőss


Etnomobil—Culture on the Move (2009–2010)
EtnoMobil 2.0—Exhibition, Photo Studio, Archive (2011)
EtnoMobil 2.0 (from 2012)
Museum of Ethnography, Budapest


EtnoMobil, initiated in 2009, is an archival, research, exhibition, and publishing project comprising several, interrelated modules. The project is based on the participation and reflection of the viewers, visitors, and experts, on which the curatorial concept was built, in real and virtual space. This project of the Museum of Ethnography, Budapest, running since 2009, attends to one of the most general mentalities of everyday life, movement and mobility, in three different phases/modules, through museological objects, various genres, and methodologies. (The project is curated by Zsófia Frazon). The first phase (2009–2010), Etnomobil—Culture on the Move started from a scientific viewpoint: the primary methodological objective was archiving and documenting. The most important question was how collecting and archiving can be expanded towards confessional texts based on personality and self-documentation.

The project started with a campaign that invited people to record in writing and images personal experiences of moving and mobility here and now.The methodological point of departure was the premise that today, in an increasing number of cases, objects are evidently linked with the detailed self-documentation of its user: how, for what, and how do we use a particular object? These experiences can be recalled by way of participation. The subjective use of language enables for a more subtle museological/exhibtionary interpretation: not only as contemporary reflections and subjectivity creates new, text-like genres in the exhibition space, but also as these genres are popular beyond the museum—in literary and everyday contexts as well. These stories, however, do not stand (only) by themselves, but are related to objects or documents as a part of museological knowledge, which can be generated with various activities and methods.[14] Museological work based on archiving, documentation, and participation created a very rich corpus of text. [15] The consecutive phases of the working process had more and less active periods, as well as related programs, a photo exhibition, or lectures. The most important conclusion was that the project’s set objectives conditioned the course of participation: participants found it hard to identify with a project outcome that was based on archiving and documentation rather than with an exhibition that, for ordinary participants, is evidently related to the museum.

The second phase of the project, titled Exhibition, Photo Studio, Archive, was continued precisely based on these insights, in a trailer, in the form of a traveling exhibition. The 10-m2 exhibition was organized as a collaboration of 17 institutions (museums, university departments) in Hungary. The theme of movement and mobility remained, so did participation as the central part of the curatorial concept. The objects of the exhibitions were borrowed from museums in Hungary, about which museologists of the respective institutions prepared texts. [16] This approached instigated the concept of mobility to appear in the installation as a praxis encompassing complex and numerous meanings—which also interconnected the concept of mobility and that of the museum. Visitors could also contribute to the traveling exhibition by recording their own stories on spot, as well as with a photo of themselves and of their objects (photo studio, archive). [17] Subsequently, visitors could become authors: various genres of texts, objects, and insights were juxtaposed.

The third—so far the latest but still open—phase of the project is an archive with web 2.0 extensions as well, which contains all of the images and “objects stories” documented during the exhibition and its traveling. Furthermore, the website also includes the main elements of the second, 2009 phase that is accompanied by the activity of the public through the web 2.0 extension. In its third phase, the project, on the one hand, got back to its original scientific objective: the building of an archive. On the other hand, it coalesced the data generated during the project and made it into an open work that can be sustained through the participation of the viewers/readers/visitors. The central parts of the website are the personal stories and the active interface for communication, by which the Museum of Ethnography appears a much more democratic and open institution that in its location on the Kossuth square.

In the three phases of theEtnoMobil project, the organizers brought the museum experience to various places (as a traveling exhibition), and operated the exhibition traveling in a trailer as a catalyst: by facilitating the activity and participation of the visitors as well as by the museologocial documentation, and subsequent online publication, of objects and experiences. This initiation was not without precedent in the program that examines contemporary phenomena within the Museum of Ethnography, [18] yet the three-phased, long-term EtnoMobil project was also one of the most instructive examples of participatory museology.

Zsófia Frazon


The Fourth Model? Documents/Reflections/Discussions
Labor, Budapest, April 17 – May 3, 2013


In Spring 2013, the Intermedia Department of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts organized a thematic discussion-series and a mini exhibition on the 20th anniversary of the department’s establishment. The Fourth Model? [19]looked at the possible directions of contemporary art education within the Hungarian art and institutional context, taking as a point of departure the changes that occurred during the 1990s at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. The background for the discussions was provided, on the one hand, by moving images and paper-based archive materials connected to the “student revolution” [20] in 1990, and on the other hand, by a study/research exhibition on the ideas, illustrations of the fourth model.

The Fourth Model? was initiated as an extension of the seminar at the Art Theory and Curatorial Studies Department at the University of Fine Arts, Budapest, where students analyzed a 1993 text by Thierry De Duve. [21] In his text, Duve discusses three concepts of art education: the Academic, the Modern, and the Postmodern Model.[22] Reflecting on these models, the students foregrounded a fourth one that is relevant in our present day. The students delineated the foundations of art education, attuned with the artist’s current tasks, along the lines of the following concepts: social responsibility, critical thinking, socially engaged and community art, activist practices, intervention, and tactical conduct. [23]

The transformation of the (art) institutional structure in Hungary after 1989 did not leave the center of higher art education, the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, untouched. As a result of the student revolution, changes in the personnel and the policy of education followed. The then-current head of the university resigned, and some of the artists who were banned or tolerated previously, under the state’s socialist cultural policy, got teaching positions thanks to the students’ initiation. [24] The establishment of the Intermedia Department was undoubtedly enabled by the changes taking place within the education of art. Alternative forms of pedagogy (such as the courses and groups Krecso, FAFEJ, InDiGo led by artist Miklós Erdély in the 1970s and 1980s) thus, in part, were integrated into the official university education. Consequently, those plural educational principles that were forced out of the ideologically controlled educational system under socialism were able to become institutionalized in methodological, formal, and thematic aspects. [25]

The events at the gallery space of Labor in Budapest were organized around different but closely related thematics. The event The Fourth Model?—which also provided the overall title—was followed by Where Has Creativity Gone? The latter examined the educational methods of the InDiGo group, led by artist Miklós Erdély in the 1980s, as well as the interpretations of the concept of creativity. Moreover, it also looked at how the meaning of creativity was transformed, how it can be used today, and how the former InDiGo members teaching at the university could share this method with their students. [26]

One of the objectives of The Fourth Model? is to initiate a critical discourse around present-day (official and independent) art education. This discourse, however, can begin only in tandem with a research into the institutional structure of art education. To this endeavor, the themes raised by The Fourth Model? and a survey on the history of the Intermedia Department’s establishment, provided a fertile ground. The question remains rather if the research can be carried on and whether its result will reach students and professors.

It would be worthwhile to discuss the practical manifestation (application) of the models imagined by the curatorial studies students—if the objective was not solely to outline abstract ideas—with the professors and students of other departments. Nevertheless, the requirement for this is undoubtedly a common need of the various departments and students that is guided by reaching a consensus with a self-reflective attitude of institutional criticism. [27] The Fourth Model?,similarly to other discursive events, took the present situation, the here and now, as a point of departure, which also gave way, for instance, to an ad hoc conflict to shape the planned choreography of the event.[28] The audio and video recordings, along with the photodocumentation will definitely become invaluable (re)sources for the research on the current situation of higher art education in Hungary.

Eszter Lázár


Impex—Contemporary Art Provider
Budapest, 2006–2010


More broadly, the concept of the curatorial is used to describe complex projects that are long-term, comprise several phases, include various participants and co-authors, and are frequently based on a research endeavor. This kind of curatorial practice revolves more around working mechanisms/methodologies than a product to be realized at the end. In Hungary projects that took place in the late 1990s and mid-2000s can be related to the concept of the curatorial. These intiations were organized in parallel and as a reaction to the gaps within the institutional structure of contemporary art in Hungary. These pilot projects emerged primarily out of collaborations between artists, artist groups, and curators, and, for the most part, temporary, communal art spaces (physical and intellectual) were established as a result. [29]

Impex—Contemporary Art Provider was established in 2006 as a self-organized, collaborative initiative providing for an open art space, formed by curator Hajnalka Somogyi and artist Katarina Šević as heads of Dinamo, [30] artist Gergely László as head of the Lumen Photography Foundation, curator Rita Kálmán, architect Samu Szemerey, and designer Bence Buczkó. The venue and the running of Impex was granted by a night club called West-Balkán, located in an abandoned housing building in the 8th district of Budapest, in an area and at a time when an urban rehabilitation program was expected take place in the near future. Impex was running in a separate part of the night club, which proved to be a fruitful symbiosis in some respects. On the one hand, the rental fee and maintenance costs were covered by West Balkán—the costs that is the most difficult for cultural institutions to get funding for [31]—thus, the Impex team could focus only on creating programs and getting funds for them. On the other hand, West-Balkán itself was likewise running in a “squatted house-like” building complex, which—as an agreement with the local, district municipality and representatives of the urban rehabilitation program—they could use the building for a fixed period of time, before the rebuilding of the area started. As a result of this “rehabilitation program,” rather gentrification process that was taking place, not without controversies, the area around (the former) West-Balkán was completely rebuilt with a shopping mall and new housing estates. While Impex was inevitably part of this story, the fixed duration for the use of the space, however allowed for a flexible working process within Impex.

The six young professionals of various backgrounds, working in community work, intended to create a “new type of independent art space,” [32] where experimental, community-building projects involving various fields were shown. In the two spaces of Impex, an exhibition and a workshop space, group exhibitions (such as City. Image. Narration, Cosas Humanas), solo exhibitions (of artists Krisztián Kristóf, Tamás Komoórczky, or Hajnal Németh), lectures (by, for instance, Anders Kreuger, Yilmaz Dziewior, Joanna Rajkowska vagy Branislav Dimitrijevic) workshops, and discursive events took place. [33]

When the district’s rehabilitation project started, the building of West-Balkán, as well as that of Impex, was torn down in 2008. Afterwards, Impex moved to a space in Damjanich Street, but no programs were realized there. However, beforehand, Impex moved temporarily to the gallery space of Trafó Gallery in Spring 2008. Besides using the gallery as on office, community, and archival space, Impex members also put on an exhibition that functioned as an expanded book, as they used this opportunity to collect and show materials for a publication they were planning on independent, artist-run spaces in Budapest—initiations similar to Impex—in the period between 1989 and 2009. The book entitled We Are Not Ducks on a Pond, but Ships at Sea [34] endeavored to contextualize and build up a genealogy of Impex as a self-organized, independent initiative. Also, the publication by mapping these places and spaces, accompanied by small essays, contributed as an important original research to the analysis of alternative, independent forms of organizing art.

The concept of the curatorial interpreted based on the practices of Impex, denotes a position of (institutional)critique, self-organization, collaboration, and a search for alternatives, a pivotal element of which is flexible running and the offering of space and presentation opportunities for projects of diverse backgrounds. Despite its short running, Impex was able to form a temporary community, and up until today, it is significant example and milestone for grass-roots art initiative, such the recent OFF-Biennale Budapest. [35]

Eszter Szakács

Joanna Rajkowska: Airways
Trafó Gallery, Budapest, October 30 – November, 30, 2008


A significant number of participatory art projects—which appear only occasionally in art practices in Hungary—is related to international artists staying in Hungary for shorter or longer periods. On the one hand, an outside perspective enables for a different kind of sensitivity towards issues, the awareness of artists loosely embedded in the Hungarian art scene is sometimes more astute than that of Hungarian artists. On the other hand, however, this distance often also blurs those fines distinctions, the apprehension and assessment of which would require years-long research that, in some cases, would paralyze or prolong artistic work for good—given the project is connected to a current, particular situation.

The Airways (2007–2008) project by Joanna Rajkowska [36], emerged in relation to the growing racist and homophobic views—and the passivity of society at large about it—in the last decade in Hungary. During her stay in Budapest, the artist encountered the intensive social and public presence of far-right organizations such as the paramilitary (already banned, but still illegally running) Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guards) or the Goj Motorosok (goy—meaning not Jewish—Motorcyclists) who bring “justice” through intimidation. The artist took as a point of departure the enemy concept of these extremist organizations; she intended to invite these people (those who marginalize and those marginalized) to a symbolic meeting. For the frame of the project, the artist chose a sightseeing flight over Budapest. Everyone had to find their places in the narrow interior space of the plane, in a close and awkward proximity with one another. The airplane, as a classic heterotopia, exists beyond the real social space, yet it is strongly related to it, and it also demonstrates the parallels between the micro and the macro world.

Before taking the flight, numerous discussions and interviews were conducted with members of those ethnic, sexual minority, immigrant, and other marginalized groups whom the extremists consider enemies or at most tolerated in Hungary. The edited version of these discussions was included in the film about the project. The artist predetermined the process of the project (although chance, in the form of stormy weather conditions, also significantly shaped the course of events), the participants were characters representing themselves. The flight and the picnic afterwards—as well as, on another level, the film, and based on it the exhibition, about the events—created space for discussions, yet the objective of the project was not to initiate a discourse towards consensus. What were rather accentuated are performativity and the interaction of the participants who were subjected, besides to the artist, to the elements and each other during an extremely instable flying position.

The exhibition at Trafó Gallery (curated by Nikolett Erőss) which showcased the film of the events in a parallel installation of a video documenting the swearing-in of Magyar Gárda on Budapest’s Heroes’ Square, raised the possibility for a broader interpretation of social issues, and for the participants, to discuss and analyze their reactions to the project. (Besides the publicity of the exhibition, the artist and the team of organizers kept in touch with most of the participants for a long time). The intention of the exhibition that was realized on the basis of the project was not primarily to document the events, the different phases of collaboration—recruiting participants, negotiations, and post-production—did not appear in the exhibition space. The two-channel video installed in the gallery is an artwork edited by the artist that accentuates certain elements with visual parallels and metaphors; how the project was built up is not entirely a theme within the exhibition.

Getting closer to social issues through performativity, through foregrounding the bodily and spatial manifestations of questions, tensions, and antagonisms—this was at stake in the Airways project—, judging by the lack of public discussions around the project, proved to be too much of a venture. The interpretations of the project, for the most part, only got to the analysis of social problems, the working methodology of the artist or the process of realization remained unexplored.

Nikolett Erőss


Other Voices, Other Rooms Attemept(s) at Reconstruction. The 50 Years of the Balázs Béla Studio
Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest December 16, 2009 – February 21, 2010


The Balázs Béla Studio was a peculiar formation. Hungary, in the period when it was building socialism, under the cultural policy arranged by Görgy Aczél, filmmaking was of special importance, and consequently was filtered on multiple levels. [37] Within this framework the Balázs Béla Studio (BBS) was meant to be a training ground, where already graduated filmmakers could make short films, without the requirements of them ever being screened.

Paradoxically, precisely this latter criteria designed for cautionary reasons granted later on the special freedom of the Studio, since these films went under censorship only after they were already made. In previous phases of the making, the Studio’s artistic circle (and the leadership formed from this circle) decided, thus numerous films were made that were not accepted later on, even though this did not mean that all films gained standardized formats [38], and it was not rare that some films disappeared or remained unfinished.

Another significant consequence of this partial autonomy was that in time also those artistscould make films within the Studio who were not official filmmakers.[39] From the 1970s on, representatives of other fields (writers, poets, visual artists, actors, sociologists, musicians, etc.) could also make films by themselves or as co-authors. [40] This also shaped in return the character of the Studio, the training ground increasingly became a space for countercultural publicity. [41]

The annual allowance of the BBS during the state party system was the approximate amount of general budget of a feature film. From this, in terms of maximizing the possibilities, short films, documentary films, feature films were likewise produced, most often only covering the technical expenses. During the active period of the Studio, 511 films were made altogether. There is a hierarchy of media, however, laying behind statistics, which is based on what kind of raw material the film was originally shot: 35 mm, 16 mm, 8 mm film, or Beta, UMatic, SVHS video. It could also happen that films were standardized in a different technique from what it was originally recorded on. Thus, the standard format defined the mediality of the production.

This mediality also shaped the modes and contexts of their presentation: the 35 mm counts as the classic cinema experience; the 16 mm, lower resolution and diameter creates a more veiled effect, while the sensual character of film screening, the filmic texture also prevails. The video likewise has a lower resolution, is more intimate, but its projected image bears a different sensuality as that of a screened film. All formats can practically be blown up to 35 mm, so that it could be shown in cinemas; nevertheless, as the costs of this procedure is quite high, few of the films gained this format. Most of them were standardized in 16 mm, while from others only working copies remained.

The digitalization of films represents a movement in an opposite direction, playing down and homogenizing these differences: while the quality of the image and the frame still alludes to the original format, the effect is more intimate, its presentation is closer to the sensuality of video: an image with a different quality is being produced. After the political change of 1989, due to the lack of budgets, as well as video techniques and digitalization gathering ground, the BBS became marginalized, and later on stopped being an active space for production. Today it functions as an archive. [42]

This, from many respects, heterogeneous archive that has strong ties to a specific era served as the basis for the exhibition Other Voices, Other Rooms—Attemept(s) at Reconstruction, at the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest. [43] The curator, Lívia Páldi, due to good constellation of circumstances, organized the exhibition after years of research, [44] along keywords such as "creativity”, "community”, "documenting”, "taste” and "censorship”.Instead of presenting and juxtaposing all of the Studio’s production, the exhibition was organized along the lines of articulate, subjective viewpoints, with a spatial montage technique: blending together persons, sites, community formations and events, concentrating not on the films but rather on the motifs. This approach already manifested itself in the first room, where the reflective works of three contemporary artists — made in close collaboration with the curator, and reflecting the curator’s intention — were displayed. [45]

The period from the late1960s to the early 1980s stood in the focus of the exhibition. During this interval two dominant viewpoints were present in parallel within the BBS: a documentary and an experimental approach. The center of the exhibition therefore presented a documentary and an experimental film displayed in separate screening boxes, alongside photos, documents, and other art works. [46] The other selected films (altogether 45) appeared similarly in digitalized format, looped, paired and grouped with each other, confronted with photos, articles, documents, or other art works. This form of display eliminated the medial hierarchies resulting from the original formats, and regarded the films as archival materials. [47]

The curatorial intention formed thematic environments out of these hybrid elements regarded as equals within the exhibition spaces, presenting repeated themes [48] from different aspects, displaying different materials side by side, in the hope they form into micro-narratives, through which one could get a more concrete view of the workings, as well as the theories, practices, broader contexts of the BBS, and its era, the “happy barrack.”The curatorial selection focused on themes, individuals, and sites was counterbalanced with a 35 mm screening facility set up in one of the rooms of the exhibition, where films were screened in their original medium, every day, as events, in the selection of archivist Sebestyén Kodolányi.

Critiques of the exhibition talked about neglecting the documentary trend, [49] the elitist approach, or the overabundance of moving images. [50] Undoubtedly, the parallel presentation of the 45 films selected out of the entire archive (over 400 hours of play time) posed a serious challenge to visitors who wanted to see the films. More precisely, it encouraged a different kind of approach, an intellectual and reflective attitude, instead of merging into specific films (even though, this was also possible, as the institution tried to enable this with a unique pass that was valid for multiple occasions). Due to the affinities of the venue and digital remedialization, it was also expected that pieces that relate to the Neoavantgarde tradition will prevail more.

Nevertheless, the goal set, the presentation of the era through micro-narratives, did unfold on several cases for the more attentive visitors. An essay by Bernadett Morsányi, for instance, attests to this, in which it slowly turns out how one of the episodes of a film intended as a generational survey taking place in an apartment-theatre situation becomes a tool for secret service agents’ battle against the theatre makers. [51]

Balázs Beöthy


Parallel Chronologies, Budapest, ongoing since 2009


The exhibition as medium emerged as a focus point of art historical research and curatorial projects in the second half of the 1990s. The analysis of the political and cultural contexts of certain exhibitions, with respects also to their positions within the institutions of art, could especially open up new chapters in the research of eras where the “official” history of art—dictated by the state’s cultural policies—homogenized or deliberately failed to mention various artistic and ideological positions. [52]

The documentary and research exhibition Parallel Chronologies and the international symposium The Invisible History of Exhibitions [53]organized by in 2009 were parts of international research platform Art Always Has Its Consequences. [54] Later on, and the research continued as part of the international collaboration Recuperating the Invisible Past[55] and since 2012, it has developed into an ongoing, continuously expanding archive of East European exhibitions. The projects, building on one another, examined underground art and art supported by the state in Eastern Europe as well as the possible re-assessment of art history through exhibitions. The project endeavored to present artistic productions, individual lives and situations, their political contexts through the re-interpretation of exhibitions that became social (subversive) events. [56]

The research centered on mapping exhibition practices of the 1960s-1970s in Eastern Europe which are not only unfamiliar internationally, but are also rarely referenced and mostly still not thoroughly analyzed events within the local contexts either. [57] The exhibitions, actions, happenings presented in the research (such as The Lunch, 1966; Creativity – Visuality, 1975; the NudeModel, 1977) [58] were organized in the so-called “second publicity,” in private apartments or clubs, there is no information about them in the “official” press by the state. The critical analyses after collecting the hardly accessible pieces of information (personal accounts, documents, recorded sound materials, or, in some cases, secret police reports) is indispensable for the contextualization of these exhibitions and for the unfolding of a discourse around the exhibition histories of Eastern European Neo-avantgarde. The curators, Dóra Hegyi and Zsuzsa László ( designated the geographical area of the research according to borders drawn during the Cold War, thus also included, from the former Soviet Union’s successor states, Belarus, the Baltic states, and Russia. [59]

The exhibition Parallel Chronologies set forth two important goals: to collect the still available written documents and oral accounts, or interpretations for the study of alternative exhibitions of this era, as well as to present the outcomes of this research in the from of a research exhibition, in a way that the era’s exhibition practices would be presented not along objects [60] but through the networks of “professional relationships, exhibitions, events, and art spaces.” The ultimate goal of the project is to generate a professional discourse for the mapping of the Eastern European nexus of Neo-avantgarde and its wider, international contextualization. [61] Instead of following classical art history’s emphasis on oeuvres and art objects, the methodology of the curators’ research focused on the history of exhibitions and chronologies, in a way to attempt to find possible answers for “what and how we remember” rather for “what happened.” Furthermore, the project also looked at how individual events can be objectively examined in light of the myths built around them. [62] Parallel Chronologies was presented as an exhibition in various venues. The Belgrade-based prelom kolektiv studied and presented the events of the Student Cultural Center in Belgrade in the 1970s, the new media center surveyed the most important documents of the Neo-avant-garde in Novi Sad (venue: Labor, Budapest), and the third part endeavored to collect the Hungarian progressive art events of the 1960-1970s (venue: Krétakör Bázis, Labor, Budapest).

The title “Parallel Chronologies” may refer, on the one hand, to the synchronicity that existed along the publicity of the exhibitions propagated by the state cultural policy, to the existence of artists and their exhibitions that were tolerated or banned by the state, as well as to the Eastern European analogies arising from the particularities of state socialism. The term “chronologies,” could indicate the relevancy of other events and narratives—the marginalized status of which need to be modified—existing beside the canonized history of art. Yet, it may also refer to one of the problematics of a research based on personal accounts: during the inquiry into the details of events’, sometimes the date of a particular event is the only unequivocal data. [63]

The research into Hungarian events, in addition to the tracing of the written documents (correspondences, documentary photos, articles), was also based on a questionnaire that nearly 40 individuals (artists, art historians, curators), representing various generations, received. The questionnaire invited participants to compile a subjective chronology of Hungarian art events in the 1960s-1970s, that could also be complimented by rationales. [64] Most of the answers delineated a subjective relation to this era, or itemized dates and titles of exhibitions. It would have been crucial for the initiators of the questionnaire to look behind certain data, not only for amending the gaps in knowledge, but the interpretation and contextualization of particular events are also pivotal for getting acquainted with the complexity of this era, which was also one of the prioritized attempts of the project.

The Hungarian and English language project website [65] documenting’s research aims and outcomes, presents 14 events/exhibitions that took place between 1966 and 1977. Among these, there are thoroughly analyzed events (The Lunch [In Memoriam Batu Khan] – The first happening in Hungary, 1966), as well as exhibitions with only basic information (Street, 1974). The descriptions are complemented with archival materials (photos, articles, correspondences, invitations, video recordings). The textual summary that serves as a guide for interconnecting the exhibitions is apt for an informative text for an exhibition; as a first important step for the contextualization of the events in a discursive framework. The consecutive interpretive analyses of the data might perhaps be the subject of upcoming collaborations and joint outcomes of several institutions and individuals. 

To expand the connections and the scope of the ongoing research, additional Eastern European chronologies are published on the project’s website. [66] The regularly updated web archive on the parallels of the idiosyncrasies of Eastern Europe is made available for research through various aspects (locations, artists, chronologies, keywords), supported also by theoretical texts and numerous guided tours. As of 2015, the editor, Zsuzsa László, invited 9 authors—among others, Daniel Grúň, Ivana Bago, Jelena Vesić, Ieva Astahovska, Ewa Malgorzata Tatar—to compile chronologies, also in relation to their own practices and areas of research. The ambitious research could become even more significant if there was also a summarizing essay with a critical-comparative analysis of all the data, documents, reconstructions of events and exhibitions related to the Neo-avantgarde in Eastern Europe. 

The 1960s and 1970s, the period discussed in the Parallel Chronologies project, is one of the primary areas of Eastern European artistic and curatorial research. A topic for a complementary research could be an inquiry whether the large-scale, international research projects examining this period meet at certain points. [67]

Eszter Lázár


Ricardo Basbaum, re-projecting (london)The Showroom, London, July 12, 2013  – August 17, 2013


The curatorial could be seen as a slippery term in that it is relatively new and seems to be in a process of formation, which is perhaps fitting in relation to what it is trying to articulate—things that don’t stay still. [68] While the historical role of a curator is one of a custodian, taking care of things that are already formed, but are perhaps not yet understood, the curatorial as a term is trying to grapple with more dynamic, responsive, and generative processes that often involve different actors and forms of agency, and productive spaces of encounter where different kinds of knowledge and practices may come into contact. The curatorial acknowledges the possibility that one might not yet know at the outset of a project what one is grappling with, and that it may change in the process of being realized. This particularly resonates with the way in which The Showroom has been organizing its activities, where the realized projects often involve open frameworks that are developed through collaborative processes. A project that pushed my understanding of what the curatorial can be and do was Ricardo Basbaum’s re-projecting (London), which took place over three weeks in and around The Showroom in 2013, realized through a series of events involving a wide range of contributors.

The project grew out of The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge, [69] a long-term program that was established shortly after the institution’s move to its current location in Church Street, in north-west London, in 2009, and has been led by Louise Shelley since 2010. It has a specific focus on forging relationships within its locality through collaborative projects involving artists, local residents, and local groups, amongst others. Church Street is bordered by some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, yet it is a ward with significantly high levels of deprivation in comparison to these, and the UK more broadly. [70]

Through active participation and presence in the area and in local networks, The Showroom has developed on-going relationships with a core range of local individuals, groups, and organizations. Often these are built through a particular artist’s project and The Showroom continues on the relationship afterwards. These include the domestic workers union Justice for Domestic Workers (J4DW), the women’s refuge Marylebone Project, the homeless/ex-homeless artists collective Seymour Arts, the care home 60 Penfold, as well as schools, youth groups, and other individual residents.The relationships have developed over time through testing out ideas and methodologies in a fairly intuitive way; expanding on what works, as well as finding new opportunities to involve people and extend conversations. [71]

Many of these relationships were activated, furthered, and brought into contact through re-projecting (london) [72]. Ricardo employs art as a “connecting device that links sensory experience, sociability, and language” [73]and has been working with a shape that he calls NBP (New Basis for Personality) over many years. This rectangular shape with truncated corners and a hole at its center has bodily connotations, resembling an ear or an eye. He has worked with it in different permutations, [74] often deployed as a starting point for processes that others are invited to shape, such as the ongoing project Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? In this initiation, twelve enameled vessels continue to circulate around the world, hosted by various individuals and organizations who keep it and use it in different ways, document what they do with it and upload it to an online archive. [75]

For re-projecting (london), Basbaum began by positioning the outline of the NBP shape over a map of the Church Street ward, crossing between this and other surrounding neighborhoods. The corners of the NBP shape then designated nine sites for intervention and interaction that acted as interfaces between contemporary practices, public or private areas and individuals, groups, and communities that work there, producing tensions “of reciprocal conversation, negotiation, and provocation.” [76] A program was devised that departed from these different points on the map, drawing connections between what was there and what could be imported in order to catalyze the situation, enabling participants to interact, and new connections to take shape.Horizontally traversing diverse fields, the participants of the project ranged from artists to curators, writers, social workers, domestic workers, financiers, academics, and dancers, all contributing in various ways, through the different programmed workshops and events. Through these diverse contributions, re-projecting (london) connected, assembled, and addressed a wide range of people and issues, including questions of labor, visibility, social justice, and care. 

The nine projects, as well as numerous events and interventions into public space, included artist Paul Elliman, who collaborated with a youth performance group and an opera singer to realize a performance in which they mimicked sirens in public space during a walk around the neighborhood, forming an “emergency choir” that could sing back to the sirens. Seymour Arts—a local collective of artists who are either homeless or ex-homeless—were invited to participate and developed a new project where they redrew the NBP shape on the map through methods of derive and led a walk around the redrawn shape. The domestic workers union Justice for Domestic Workers’ collaborated on a writing workshop with ASK! [77] The Korean writer Hakyoung Kim, who has specialized in labor movements, realized a writing workshop, followed by a public picnic/demonstration at a point on the map close to many of the residences where a number of the domestic workers are employed. A soap making workshop was initiated by artist Christian Nyampeta and involved the collaboration of residents of a local care home, Ada Court. A TV station was created by artist Anton Katz at the local youth center, Fourth Feathers; a collaboration took place between artist Patrick Staff and a local LGBTQ youth group; and there was also a one-day exchange between the Marylebone Project women’s refuge and the women’s finance network of a neighboring bank BNP Paribas with artist Lucy Pawlak. An itinerant reading group, Read-in, was developed as well that situated its sessions in private homes, in this case in boats along the canals of Maida Vale. [78]

Many of the projects were developed in public space and addressed the public realm as well as traversed both public and private spheres, as was demonstrated with Read-in. The projects resonated on many levels, ranging from the discursive—through talks and discussions—to the sensory, such as with works that dealt with sound, and the affective through interpersonal relations. The contributions were all advertised in the program, and each fed outcomes onto a dedicated notice board in the gallery related to the particular point on the shape/map. In the last week of the workshop, a collective conversation explored ways of voicing thoughts in concert. During the meetings on consecutive mornings, contributors included Basbaum, The Showroom staff, local resident Ismail Ali, anthropologist Mao Mollona, choreographer Henriette Hale, artist Daniela Mattos, and PhD students Jareh Das and Thom Tlalim, who exchanged writing and thinking to collectively produce a script, the final form of which was edited in collaboration with Basbaum and was performed together; the different voices intersected and overlapped to create a polyphonic voice.

Basbaum describes his method as “opening a space and keeping it open,” which draws an affinity with artist Lygia Clark’s organic line, which she saw as resulting from the contact of two surfaces to produce a space that conceptually goes beyond binary logics and a need for synthesis. [79] Basbaum’s project likewise actively sought out and inhabited interfaces, finding tensions without looking for resolution. It traversed multiple sets of borders, both literal in terms of the neighborhood, but also conceptual, as in the drawing, and interpersonal, as in between different sets of existing relations between people in and outside of the area. These included working across the borders between the Church Street neighborhood and other surrounding (more affluent) areas. Some projects played with relational approaches, such as Anton Katz’s TV station where the roles continually shifted, and Christian Nyampeta produced bars of soap in the NBP shape, which became distributed relational objects, building a relation to the body. An awareness of these different kinds of borders and boundaries and spaces in-between them became an active dimension of the work, to the point at which one could say that, like the organic line, the project operated in these very interfaces where two, or more, things meet one another.

While leading out of an artistic practice, the project took a curatorial approach, not only in terms of producing a program, but also in the way that it opened up spaces of negotiation where emergent forms of agency, sociality, and meaning were produced through the interaction of different kinds of people and knowledge. The NBP shape can be seen as a relational object, which enabled The Showroom to initiate conversations with a diverse range of people, playing a mediating role, but at the same time, it does not make this easy. For example, to someone unfamiliar with the project the shape and the concepts that come with it at first appear alien, at odds with its surroundings and difficult to negotiate. The artist—as he also states [80]—feels at risk of being instrumentalized through the use of his work to fulfill community-based and other projects, fearing to be alienated from his own work. There is vulnerability to the artist’s position, as with the participants, and also the organization, which puts faith in the artist and collaborators to fulfill their roles.

This fragile set of relations and interdependencies, however, each have potential and transform one another through a conversational mode. They rely on a methodology that combines chance and control through setting up of situations and relations, and to leaving these open to see what happens. The levels of risk involved were in fact the very things that made it successful. Once the project is set in motion, the activities take over, responses are created and interactions and exchanges occur between the artist, organization, participants and localities, and layers of meaning are created. The shape becomes an instrument, it is played, and produces feedback, and “noise”—it enables transformation.

Through the interactions with it, the starting point for the participants, the shape itself recedes, is taken over by use; it becomes increasingly embedded in the neighborhood as a background to another picture that has taken its place, detoured by other desires and urgencies. For example, Seymour Arts walked the line of the shape on the map of the area and subsequently redrafted it into a shape of their own, departing from what was offered to them to something that had meaning for them. In the writing workshop with Justice for Domestic Workers participants were asked to write about their first experience of menstruation: some stuck to the brief and others shared other issues that were more prescient to them, such as their experiences with the UK’s draconian visa restrictions and the large distances between them and the families they have left behind, expanding the frame of the project to encompass other kinds of geopolitics. For each event a wooden object in the shape of the corner of the NBP was carried, and its movements were tracked. Through these motions the shape was redrawn according to the interactions and re-emerged as something else. This was recorded in The Showroom, where a new drawing was applied to the wall as evidence of the activity. Beyond this redrawn picture—a product of an elaborate process, involving many people and activities over a period of three weeks—the outcome also resonated on the level of experience.  For those who were able to attend the entire program, the ideas and discussions that fed through the project were carried in their bodies from one event to the next, building up density, each occasion adding a new layer of knowledge and relationships, which also departs from having a clear shape. [81]

The spots on the map—the corners of the NBP shape—plot a path of relations, a constellation of points, linked together through a shape, where each part of the project only made sense through its contact with another. Together a view into a particular moment is produced, formed of sets of related and unrelated actions, thoughts, knowledge, polyphonies, affects, tensions, disjunctions, interactions, and exchanges, allowing different people, fields and forms of knowledge to intersect without having to accord to a singular rationale or logic. The shape has a kind of agency, it enters into the urban fabric, between people and things, and at the same time things affect it; it changes through interaction. In the process many threads of interconnectedness are created—including shared issues of concern, commitments, identifications—not all anticipated, beyond the factors that brought them together: a drawing, a place, an organization, an artistic practice and a set of relations that extend outwards from these, as with the organic line, producing a generative space in-between.

The project set a conceptual matrix that was activated by transient interactions that were conducted in a loose way that did not seek to pin down or capture the knowledge generated in concrete ways. Its effects and affects existed in the moment, and were difficult to grasp, yet they extended beyond the frame that was set by the project. For example, afterwards a number of relationships and projects were developed further, including Anton Katz’s Fourth Feathers TV (still ongoing) and work with Christian Nyampeta (which fed into a permanent mural in the local library), as well as with a number of the artists, local individuals, and groups. In this sense re-projecting (london) entered into the middle of, and catalyzed, different sets of ongoing processes. Through this and other projects realized through Communal Knowledge, The Showroom has learned to place an emphasis of its work on relationships, that it often takes time to find the productive potential of working with artists and local residents and groups, and that processes often work best when they are not limited and constrained, or seeking specific or tangible outcomes.

The curatorial as a concept recognizes these open-ended ways of working, and how unbounded spaces allow for processes to be shaped as they happen through forms of feedback. By following these and seeing where they lead, what is learned can be taken from one situation to another. This approach can be productive and generative in ways that do not accord to singular rationales or logics or fixed timeframes. When zooming out to a bigger picture, Communal Knowledge could be seen as offering a model of how an arts organization can develop and sustain long-term relational processes between diverse communities—artists, thinkers, local residents, and many others—and embed and share this in its work as a way of collective learning about current socio-political conditions. This is a cumulative approach that builds up a body of different kinds of (often local) knowledge, and is in keeping with how Basbaum has described his own work, which in turn offers one way to think about the curatorial, a practice of “opening a space and keeping it open.”

Emily Pethick


Two Artists, Two Curators (KMKK)
Budapest, 2001–2002


There is an informal hierarchy among the different fields of art (music, contemporary art, film, literature, dance, etc.) in the public opinion in Hungary. On this spectrum contemporary art counts as the least well known and least acknowledged. According to a survey, for instance, most people in Hungary cannot name any contemporary artists. [82] This can be due, on the one hand, to the fact that contemporary art is not integrated within the public educational system, and, on the other hand, its presence in the media is incidental. The course of contemporary art’s exile from Hungarian public opinion already started with the appearance of classical modernism, in the beginning of the twentieth century, and it has continued ever since. There are no models, no stars; even a popular vocabulary for art is missing.

The great Hungarian avant-garde artist Lajos Kassák could have been an actor for modern art’s familiarization in the larger public; however, the state’s cultural policy canonized him as a great socialist writer on the one hand, and repressed him as a minor constructivist painter on the other. Even though the general public once was aware of the Hungarian-born Victor Vasarely, who was “re-imported” to Hungarian art by the state; he is no longer in the public consciousness, as the already referenced survey shows. Most of the people simply do not know about contemporary art, how it should be talked about and what one can think about it.

Contemporary art, as many other fields, has become a discipline upheld by specialists. The global system of contemporary art was likewise formed that affects also the visibility and the reception of artworks. A piece of art is not only a result of an individual effort; it can also be considered a collective product in many respects. Not only in the sense that the art of the era surrounds, positions, and inspires the artist, but also that the institutional scene motivates, challenges, and canonizes the author or makes the product visible at all.

The strength of an art scene emerges not out of its size, nor from the abundant or limited financial resources of its actors, but the consciousness of their own roles and, based on this, their readiness for collaboration. Those can collaborate who have acoherent vision about the field they are operating in, and in which they can also see their own roles outlined. From this moment on, the individual choices, decisions, statements, and acts do not speak through the thin voice of arbitrariness, but as a confident voice of a choir of consensus formed through points of relations. Resonance is the globe’s new language, this the era of network formations.

If one talks about a lack of attention in this context, it refers to the lack and errors of the collaborations of specialists and the institutions they are running, which is coupled in Hungary by the century-old debt towards the larger public.All this affects also the magnitude of financial resources made available both by the state and private sponsorship. Among the current conditions, the reception of individual artworks and art events is incidental, and there are also decade-long hiatuses in the analyses of artistic oeuvres. Such hardly articulated yet existing conflicts are built on these, such as the front line between curators working in institutions and freelance artists (not to mention the disproportions in their education—the higher educational system produces too many artists and not enough professionals for mediation). If the institutions do not take care of everything, self-organization gets valorized, and the voluntary collaborations of artists and curators are also welcome.

A series of events: probably this is the most accurate definition of what took place between the fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002 in two suitable studio spaces in Budapest. The series was organized by two artists (Róza El-Hassan, János Sugár) and two curators (Dóra Hegyi, Emese Süvecz). The venue should not mislead anyone. It was more than series of studio exhibitions. The goal was not to present their own works: according to the communiqué published by the organizers, what motivated them was a desire to embed the local art scene in a much more multifaceted critical discourse. On the basis of which something: a proposal, a statement, an act, an action, an artwork stands not in thin air, but connects to others’ proposals, statements, acts, actions, and artworks. To fabricate the often-referred intellectual sphere: “think globally, act locally.” In this case of the KMKK, it was an act of diligence, from their own efforts, privately. Self-organization was a progressive (and necessary) tradition in socialist times; nevertheless, this form lost its significance after the political change of 1989, and the erratically functioning, and transitioning art institutions did not fill in the gap arising in the form of lack of attention. There were only scarce opportunities to discuss artistic productions in an informal way.

The series of events presented artworks, strategies through a non-mediated space that can only be experienced directly. It was a declaredly elite, that is experiential, form constructed for a slow reception. Personal presence is valorized over the pieces of information disseminated online and through other channels. “Seeing” an exhibition through photos and videos thus undoubtedly results in a more superficial overall understanding than taking part in something personally. There is a longer road that leads from information to experience.

In some respects, the series A hét műtárgya (Artwork of the Week) can be considered an antecedent of this initiative. The series was organized in the artist duo Little Warsaw’s studio space—formerly the premises of a store—in Hajós Street, where an unusual space and time of discussion was dedicated to a single artwork of a young artist. In the case of KMKK, by comparison, the artist-curator relations were thematized, they touched upon a wider generational spectrum, and they also activated their international networks; yet, their events took place without moderation, in a more informal way.

In the name of the subtitle of the series, “Attention Recycling,” they presented single art pieces, groups of artworks, authors weekly, in an intense rhythm within an audience filtered through participation. Many things fitted this framework: from caricaturists to young artists through international stars, or living and passed away great masters awaiting a worthy appraisal, there were diverse forms of presentations. The selection was made on the basis of personal networks, as the opportunities emerged: in this sense, it can be regarded as spontaneous or even whimsical. Nevertheless, the series of events served as an example and activated the target audience and the informally accessible part of professional publicity with its own tools, and it showed that many things can be done without any infrastructure as well.

It might be a small step, compared to the big deficit; nonetheless, the management of attention starts like this, in small, when a few people sit down to talk. [83]

Balázs Beöthy


Újlak Group
Budapest, 1989–1995


In the 1980s in Hungary, there were hardly any spaces that could be used freely for artistic purposes. In that time, the often small exhibition halls and galleries had regulations for the placement and display of artworks. The installation, which was gaining popularity as a medium during that time, to a certain degree enabled an acquittal from the odium of conforming totally to these regulations, however, only with limitations, not to mention the specific historical burdens and sociocultural determination of the given gallery spaces. There was a lack in spaces that could be used and formed freely. A change only came at the end of the decade.

The activities of the Újlak group can be described most precisely along the conscious using of space.The members of the group (graduated painters and autodidacts alike) [84] decided to search for large spaces out of use and to present exhibitions there—with or without permits. First, they occupied the abandoned building of the Hungária Bath in Dohány Street, which basically meant the cleaning of the rubbles, but also resulted—in accordance with the artists’ intention—in the free use and shaping of a space: it was possible to engrave, dismantle, dig, suspend, nail, screw, weld, dry, wet, water, paint the wall or the floor, and since the lighting had to be built up from the ground, it was also a broad arena for artistic intentions.

This practice crystallized in the similarly abandoned building of the Újlak cinema, which also gave the name to the group. However, for the longest time, they arranged one-night exhibitions in the building of a former bread factory in Tűzoltó Street. While there were only two action-like group events at the Hungária Bath, solo exhibitions were dominant at the Újlak cinema, where each member of the group presented works individually. Later in the Tűzoltó Street, besides the group members, various invited artist colleagues also made exhibitions. [85]

Venues like these compels the artist to view every little detail of the exhibition as a part of the composition, as there is hardly anything else besides the empty space; yet, by the same token, every parameter can be changed. What is given is the more or less eroded but freely modifiable space, without an embarrassing prehistory and any need to comply.The romantic overtones of the ruined environment were dimmed a bit by the lack of heating or the possibility of flooding, yet these uncomfortable moments also strengthened the artistic intention, and were integrated organically into the expanded, often ephemeral compositions.

The working methodology of the group was characterized by both accentuating individual positions and elementarily affecting one another.They spent a lot of time together, activated the spaces jointly, but presented individual works at group exhibitions (although there were some defining and strong artworks created collectively through the years). [86] The brownfield apparently influenced the forms of the exhibited works, yet the common interpretation of musical or painterly praxis was more defining, or the influence of the technical mediums that started to become available at that time.

Interestingly, all of this was added together along the lines of reductive models; it resulted in organic, focused, denudative artworks. One may also interpret this practice as an expanded field of painting, even though it does not hold true to everyone, from the perspective of individual positions. The inventive use of large-scale places without any constraints shaped the perception of space of a whole generation, in parallel with the political change of 1989.

Thus far, interestingly, it was mainly artists who have written about the activities of the group. [87] Even though one of the graduate shows of the Art Theory and Curatorial Studies Department at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest revolved around the workings of the Újlak [88] (which was dissolved in 1995), a comprehensive research into their activities still remains to be done.

Balázs Beöthy


Yona Friedman: Architecture without Building
Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, October 29, 2011– February 5, 2012


Exhibitions today are no longer considered the manifestations of knowledge’s indisputability. The exhibitions’ constructed character are already part of public awareness. Exhibitions are mainly spaces of interpretation, and many of them publicly show this; that is, they reveal and thematize those tools that the exhibitions are using. Within a museum context, such self-reflective gestures appear mostly in relation to the museum as a social construct, which contributes not only to the re-evaluation of exhibition genres, but also to the interpretation of how the museum’s role has been changing over time.

The exhibition by Yona Friedman (Architecture Without Building) [89] at the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, became an isolated  attempt to bring the functioning of the museum and the collaborative practices closer together, as well as to publicly re-think the museum’s role of preserving, creating, and interpreting. As the chosen theme is not from the field of contemporary art in the strict sense, its complexity required the involvement of many competencies—that were not necessarily present at the museum—which enabled the institution to face its own borders so that, at the same time, these boundaries could be expanded.

The exhibition, merging the results of several previous project phases [90], presented the oeuvre of the seminal visionary architect Yona Friedman through urban planning, architectural, and artistic reflections, while also thematizing many of the paradoxes between the works by Friedman and their presentation at a contemporary art museum. Such as the tensions between utopist architectural visions that puts little emphasis on implementation and practical, every-day solutions for natural/social crises situations. Furthermore, the lack of realized buildings vs. the broad spectrum of manifestos, drafts, plans, models, cartoons, and lectures. These conflicts emerge form the contradictory interpretations of the architect’s role. Traditionally, the architect is a person who stands above the community, who alone makes decisions about their needs; while Friedman envisions architecture as a communal activity. The use of plans and models of cheap, simple materials, the architectural structures he suggests and encourages others to continue, or the approach that does not give significance to originality are in sharp—however, well-known—conflicts with museum/exhibition display, where all these non-artworks acquire the status of artwork, or even the status of artwork for sale on the art market. The artistic position that regards making things accessible of high importance and the strict barriers the museological practice draws for preservation are not easy to bring together. These paradoxes can be dissolved by precisely displaying them: the exhibition revolved around the dynamic of contradictions.

The theories of Friedman were simultaneously the objects and the methods of the exhibition, beyond displaying specific projects, it “implemented” numerous ideas of Friedman, thus testing their possibility for adaptation and functioning. The keywords of Yona Friedman’s oeuvre served as a point of departure for the spatial display of the exhibition: the installations were made based on his plans, interpreting and often thinking them further. The materials were organized in the rooms of the space around these keywords; instead of a chronological approach, a thematic layout was dominant. When making the installation environment, it was an important consideration to use cheap easy-to-get materials, as well as local production, sustainability, and communality—the museum thus became the experimental field for implementing Friedman’s ideas. This laboratory position also shaped, at least temporarily, the own image of the museum. Dealing with contemporary art does not necessarily mean for a museum a position of critical re-evaluation of its own traditional role; nevertheless, an exhibition that bursts the institutional and spatial barriers of the museum, enables for a critical self-reflection for all of the contributors of the project.

The concept of authorship, one of the cornerstones of museological-acquisitionary work, and its related concept of originality were disregarded in the exhibition. The numerous copies, which were made with the consent of Friedman, differed in size and technique from the original (many of them were transferred directly on the wall, thus making preservation virtually impossible), the installations that were made based on the interpretations of architects and volunteers working on the exhibition, as well as the interactive spaces that presented the structures of Yona Friedman as something that can be continued, discussed not the objects but the concepts of the oeuvre. The visitor could only see models displayed as original, museological objects under glass in one, isolated room—the space built the dark-light contrasts and was installed theatrically—wished to point to the tensions between the intention of preservation and the ephemeral character of the objects.

Undoubtedly, the most spectacular element was an enormous structure built from scaffoldings that one could enter and that joined the second and third floor of the museum, which was Yona Friedman’s “ville spatiale” idea adapted to the exhibition space that functioned simultaneously as a displayed artwork, an installation element, and a framework to showcase other artworks. The polyphonic exhibition had many, distinct voices in the rooms of the space. Friedman’s ideas constituted the core of the thematic blocks, the inscriptions of each thematics he made on the wall by hand reflected his “voice,” as did the cartoons running as a frieze on the walls: his suggestions for each theme. The curatorial descriptions were based on these, which presented Friedman’s works and their historical contexts. As another layer, texts that contextualized urban planning were also placed on the walls. Beyond the textual materials, the visual design and the architectural structures offered further points for interpretation, which were also the most intensive elements that were capable to involve the visitor the most. The font type made for this exhibition, the inscriptions drawn or projected on the wall, all visual elements pointed towards an easily recognizable system, which however did not lack the spontaneities emerging from the decisions made on the spot, within the process.

During the four-week long installation process (workshop) numerous questions arose in relation to the theme, display, and realization of the exhibition that made it unavoidable to continuously reflect on the applied working methods. This process, the dynamics of planning and re-writing, the dominant presence of collective work were made visible to the public by action photos placed on the walls documenting the processes of building the exhibition.

Within this multi-level collaborative process, joining numerous professional and social spheres, the question of authorship was interpreted in a highly complex way, unprecedented in the practice of the museum thus far. The concept of the exhibition was formed together with Yona Friedman, as well as with architecture Philippe Rizzotti and graphic designer Gonzague Lacombe, who are not only familiar with Friedman’s oeuvre, but they also implement these experiences in their own work. Furthermore, more than 50 volunteers worked on the exhibition, many of whom fundamentally shaped the image of the exhibition. The collectivity applied both in the curatorial work and practical realization of the exhibition posed great challenges to the museum that operates with clear-cut hierarchies and responsibilities.

The intriguing ordering of the space of the exhibition and its complex visuality was due to the work of contributors of various background and experience, who shared there with the museum previously unfamiliar knowledge. However, in order for this knowledge to get integrated into the museum, a deeper institutional engagement and more similar projects—in its interdsicpilnariy and community building intents—are needed.

Nikolett Erőss




[1] Curatorial team: Barbara Borčić, Alenka Pirman, Nevenka Šivavec, Božidar Zrinski. Co-authors of the exhibited works: Tibor Bolha, Vuk Ćosić, Damijan Kracina, Jani Pirnat, Maja Šubic, Darja Vuga, Irena Wolle. See the catalog of the exhibition: Barbara Borčić ed. Alenka Pirman. Collected Works. Ljbuljana: MGLC, 2015.

[2] MGLC has been organizing the International Biennial of Graphic Arts since 1955. In the 1990s, however, MGLC expanded its understanding of graphic art to a much wider notion of reproductible media,  and consequently established itself as one of the most interesting contemporary art venues in Ljubljana.

[3] The otherwise banal fact is very important as it shows the awarness of the importance of documents and the issues of archiving in  artistic practice. In Slovenia, institutions  that pay artist fee for exhibiting are rare, but this is, to my knowledge, the only institutional policy in the last 20 years that covered and thus acknowledged the importance of the preparatory work of an artist when arranging an exhibition. 

[4] See Pirman’s own description in the exhibition guide, available on the website of the International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana,, Web. 13. Nov. 2015.

[5] The exhibitionOther was on view at the Museum of Ethnography in Budapest between September 26, 2008 and April 6, 2009. The first version of the exhibition was organized at the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève in 2005.  The concept was based on the 1952 text “Race and History” by Claude Lévi-Strauss, an important manifesto of the era, against ethnocentrism and racism and for cultural diversity. The concept of the exhibition translated the theoretical-conceptual reasoning to the exhibition space. The exhibition’s adaptation in Hungary preserved the original set up, but the examples and case studies (where it was warranted) were replaced with ones that are intelligible within Hungarian cultural contexts: to which objects and areas of knowledge from the Museum of Ethnography’s collection could be related. The point of departure for the Contact Zone workshop was the themes explored in the exhibition.

[6] Clifford, James 1997 Museums as Contact Zones. In Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. James Clifford, ed. 186–219. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

[8] The blog was also active later on, more entries were posted in relation to the theme, but the description of the project’s realization can be found in four entries:

[9] Gábor Wilhelm, 2009 Kontakzóna – egy kísérleti múzeumi projekt helyszínei. Tabula 2009_1

[10] The museological lessons, in collaboration with museologists, were also called Contact Zone 1-4., but the four events had different themes: Cultural diversity, Deferring Viewpoints, Ecological Thinking and Sustainable Development, Rite and Religion, Concepts of Health and Sickness in Various Cultures.

[11] The title of the research: Material Culture of Immigrant Groups in Budapest(2011-2014).

[12] The exhibition hall of the Budapest Gallery, March 19 – April 29, 1998, and the hall of the FSZKI (Budapest Social Center and Its Institutions) on Dózsa György út, April 2 – 5, 1998.


[14] The first archival phase of the EtnoMobil project began in 2009 with a blog: readers could send in their personal travel stories (the original blog is still accessible, in Hungarian:ETNOMOBIL: 1 nap érkezéstől indulásig). The campaign was also included activities based on meetings in person, through which visitors could take part in the collaborative work, not only online, but also in urban and museological space. One of the outcomes of these meetings was a garment and costume design campaign with a fashion show entitled Recycle-Bicycle, the theme of which was bicycle riding, and involved an urban photo shooting of almost 500 people (My Bike and Me), urban walks organized with photographers, researchers, and artists, as well as, building of previous insights, a volunteering donation of objects to the Museum (Stories of Objects on the Move).

[15] All of the materials of the first phase was published, Frazon ed. 2010.

[16] All of the materials displayed in the exhibition can be found on the EtnoMobil 2.0 website:

[17] The complete archive can be found here:

[18] In 2005, during the research process of the exhibition Plastic, volunteering donation of objects to the Museum and the activation of visitors in relation to the exhibition already took place.

[19] The Fourth Model? Documents/Reflections/Discussionstook place between April 17 and May 3, 2013. The event was part of the program IM20—The 20th Anniversary of the Intermedia Department: The event was organized by lecturers of the Intermedia and Art Theory and Curatorial Studies Department of the University of Fine Arts, artist Szabolcs KissPál and art theorist Zoltán Kékesi.

[20] Up to this day, there is no consensus in the use of the word “student revolution,” which is most probably related to the lack of an interpretive research into the events.  “On March 1, 1990, the Student Body organizes a Student Forum, where students accepted the declaration and put forth an eight-point demand about the structural modification of the Academy. The declaration demanded the resignation of the leadership, an open call for the positions, and a democratic decision-making process with the participation of the students.” In: Event Chronology:

[21] See:  Thierry De Duve 1994 When Form Has Become Attitude—And Beyond. Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1945, Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005, pp. 19-31.

[22] One can argue with de Duve’s categories and periodization, which was also voiced during the event that discussed this text. According to art historian Annamária Szőke, the models envisioned by the students show a number of similarities with practices of the 1960s that are based on Fluxus, Happening, and Action Art, and which were overlooked by de Duve.

[23] While the Academic Model builds on craftsmanship that develops talent, the Bauhaus Model on the mediums requiring creativity, and the Postmodern on practice(s) with particular attitude(s), the fourth model prioritizes interdisciplinarity and intermediality and is organized on project basis.

[24] Among others, Dóra Maurer, Zsigmond Károlyi, György Jovánovics, and János Sugár.

[25] This is probably a general tendency in most of the post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe, which would be worth examining more thoroughly.

[26] The focus of the Concepts event was the theoretical courses at the University of Fine Arts: the analogies between the—unrealized—ideas in the 1990s about contemporary art theory education and the objectives of current Art Theory and Curatorial Studies Department. The Demands discusses 20 years later the events of the student revolution, together with the then organizers of the Student Body and other individuals. The program series offered to involve the participants then, and to “re-enact” the story.

[27] The professors invited to The Fourth Model? did not deem relevant to discuss the educational principles of the Indigo group—and their comparison with the present—due to the two differing state systems, however, formulating their own principles of art education basically did not take place.

[28] A letter by Tamás St. Auby to the organizers of the event.

[29] Such community spaces/contemporary art providers were, for instance, besides Dinamo (2003-2006) and Impex (2006-2010), as the collaboration and program series of Two Artists, Two Curators (KMKK), the project space kis.terem (1999-2004) within the Ludwig Museum or an advocacy group of curators CAB (Curators Association Budapest) (2004-2005).

[30] Dinamo, initiated by Hajnalka Somogyi and Katarina Šević, opened in 2003 with similar circumstances and goals to those of Impex. Dinamo run in parallel and was located, in a car repair store, next to Trafó Gallery, which was also run by Hajnalka Somogyi. According to Dinamo’s mission statement, it is an open, artist-run space, based on “organic self-organization,” the objective of which is to provide space, workshop space, an presentation opportunity for young artists outside the institutional framework of art. That is, Dinamo was an open space to the audience, to the community; anyone could use it.

[31] Interview with Hajnalka Somogyi.


[33] See all of the programs on the Impex website:

[34] Rita Kálmán, Katarina Šević et al. Eds. We Are Not Ducks on a Pond – Independent Art Initiatives, Budapest 1989–2009. Budapest:  Impex – Kortárs Művészeti Szolgáltató Alapítvány, 2010.

[35] See the OFF-Biennale’s website:

[36] See on the artist’s website:

[37] The productions were censured in phases of writing the screenplays, preparations, and completing.

[38] Standardization meant the cutting of negatives, color grading, and production of viewing copies positives. Numerous films remained only as musters (working copies), or was completed only years later in final forms, in the technical sense.

[39] Only six people were admitted every four years to study movie making, to become film directors.

[40] As we know from an essay by László Beke, it was not without selections. For instance, in 1976, out of 30 film plans, only 4 were realized (See Beke László: A Balázs Béla Stúdió kísérleti filmjei, 1977, in Médium/elmélet, Balassi-Tartóshullám-Intermédia, Budapest, 1997.

[41] Film directors could have been hold in check with a promise of making a feature film in the future, while others were satisfied with short films never screened in cinemas. See: György Péter: Balázs Béla Stúdió – ötven év után,(The Balázs Béla Sudio—After 50 Years), opening speech, Műcsarnok, 2009. december 15.

[43] Other Voices, Other Rooms—Attemept(s) at Reconstruction. The 50 Years of the Balázs Béla Studio Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest December 16, 2009 – February 21, 2010

[44] The digitalization of the BBS archive was already under way in the framework of an agreement since 2005 at the library of the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest. When it was decided that the exhibition would be realized, the position of chief curator Lívia Páldi enabled a longer phase of research activities.

[45] As it turned out from a conversation from one of the artists, he made the artwork as a commission, for money, based on the ideas of the curator. He did not regard himself as a participating artist.

[46] László Vitézy – Györgyi Szalai: Leleplezés (Unveiling) , 1979 és Erdély Miklós: Verzió (Version), 1981

[47] The curator basically defined alone the modes of presentation of the works in the exhibition space.

[48] “Beauty,””minority,” etc.

[49] Indexre téve - egy műsor a zsarnokságról (Exposed—A Program About Tyranny). Presenter: Rémusz Szikszai, participants: directors István Dárday, László Vitézy, Gyula Gulyás, and archivist Sebestyén Kodolányi. Duna Television, January 28, 2010.

[50] László Csuja: Nézd, ott az anyukám! (Look, My Mother is There!) Balkon, 2010/03

[51] Bernadett Morsányi: Rekonstrukciós kísérlet[ek] Adalékok a Dohány utcai Lakásszínházhoz (Attempt[s] at Reconstruction. Supplements to the Apartment Theatre in Dohány Street) Színház. April 2012.

[52] For the background of the Parallel Chronologies research, see the project’s website:,

[53] The Invisible History of Exhibition. International Symposium, May 21-22, 2009 at Krétakör Bázis.

[54] See the website of the project: Collaborating partners: WHW, Zagreb;, Budapest; Muzeum Sztuki, Łodz;, Novi Sad. Besides the history of exhibitions, the project also examined archival practices, critical design, and artist texts. The research exhibition was also presented at Badischer Kunstverein in Karlsruhe in 2010. The publication within the framework of the project: Art Always Has Its Consequences, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, 1947-2009. Eds. Dóra Hegyi, Zsuzsa László, Emese Süvecz et al. Berlin: Stenberg Press, 2011.

[55] The Parallel Chronologies exhibition in Riga consisted of two parts: "Other" Revolutionary Traditionsby Sándor Hornyik and How Art Becomes Public by Dóra Hegyi and Zsuzsa László. It was complimented with Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian exhibition history documents. The exhibition of was presentedin the form of a newspaper, see: Parallel Chronologies. Eds. . Dóra Hegyi, Sándor Hornyik, Zsuzsa László, Budapest:, 2011.

[56] For more on the background of the research, see the project website:       

[57] There have been several research initiations and publications—among others, by—on Neo-avantgarde art in Hungary: The Lunch (in memoriam Batu Khan). eds. Zsuzsa László, Tamás St.Turba, Budapest:, 2011; Emese Kürti. “Esoteric Avant-garde: The Concept/Conceptual Paradigm.” Exindex. Web. Nov. 14. 2015. Creativity Exercises, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, October 18 – February 1, 2015, curated by Dóra Hegyi (, Franciska Zólyom (GfzK),, research by Zsuzsa László (; Creativity Exercises Spaces of Emancipatory Pedagogies. Exhibtion, workshops, lectures,, Budapest, September 17-October 31, 2015, curated by Dóra Hegyi and László Zsuzsa.

[58] See the descriptions here:

[59] See the project website:,

[60] Due to the reconstruction problematics of neo-avantgarde performative events, as well as the ephemeral materials preferred in the art objects and assemblages of the 1970s, an exhibition of this kind would have already encountered several obstacles. 

[61] See more about the exhibition at’s website:

[62] László Zsuzsa’s comments in September 2014.

[63] There are also a few other chronologies of this era: the annual art calendar of Magyar Műhely, the list of art events compiled in 1980 by Dóra Maurer and László Beke, the chronologies of Artpool and C3. The era has also been analyzed in the form of a map or a collection/museum, such as: NETRAF’S Portable Intelligence Increase Museum, Little Warsaw’s Only Artists project, or on an international level, IRWIN’s East Art Map. See the questions and responses assembled by

[64] See the questions and responses assembled by

[65] Parallel Chronologies operates as the virtual archive of the showcased exhibitions:,

[67] In the last few years, there have been several publications and research on this era. For example, the research of Jelena Vesić/Prelom kolektiv on Post-Jugoslav art was initiated with a similar venture (See the Political Practices of Post-Yugoslav Art). Part of this was also integrated into the archive of Parallel Chronologies. The Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest started the international research The Long Sixties in 2013 or a conference entitled Shared Practices: The Intertwinement of the Arts in the Culture of Socialist Eastern Europetook place at the KUMU Art Museum in October 2015.

[68] In an essay Paul O’Neill summarized a number of positions on the curatorial, including my own, which I found helpful in terms of trying to navigate a terrain that in its very nature defies a fixed position: “Irit Rogoff articulates the curatorial as critical thought that does not rush to embody itself, instead raising questions that are to be unraveled over time; Maria Lind’s notion of thecuratorial involves practising forms of political agency that try to go beyond the already known; Beatrice von Bismark’s understanding of the curatorial is as a continuous space of negotiation, contributing to other processes of becoming; and Emily Pethick’s proposition of the curatorial presupposes an unbounded framework, allowing for things, ideas and outcomes to emerge in the process of being realized.” See:,Paul O’Neill, “The Curatorial Constellation and the Paracuratorial Paradox.” The Exhibitionist 6/2012, 55-60.

[69] See the Communal Knowledge on The Showroom’s website:

[70] Church Street ward has one of the highest concentrations of social housing in Westminster currently undergoing a substantial renewal program. At the heart of the area is a street market. Compared to the surrounding borough of Westminster, it has high levels of ethnic diversity and unemployment. 78% of the children in the neighborhood live in income deprived households, and on average the residents of this ward have a ten year shorter life expectancy than others in the borough.

[71] Relationships with these groups have developed slowly over a period of five years, often initiated through artists’ projects commissioned through the Communal Knowledge program. When productive relationships are produced through this program, The Showroom often finds other ways to work with the groups in order to continue the dialogue. For example, The Showroom met the Marylebone Project women’s refuge through an exhibition with Cinenova, and has continued working with them ever since; the institution encountered Seymour Arts through an open call for contributions for Can Altay’s The Church Street Partners’ Gazette, and has continued to work with them as well; they hold a regular social club at The Showroom. The art institution came across Justice for Domestic Workers when developing the program The Grand Domestic Revolution GOES ON, an exhibition initiated by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht, who collaborated with a domestic workers union in Utrecht, and formed the group ASK! (actie schone kunsten), a collaboration between cultural workers and domestic workers.

[73] See: Ricardo Basbaum.” Coleccion Cinsneros. Web. 13 Nov.  2015.

[74] Other uses of the NBP shape have included the ongoing project Would you like to participate in an artistic experience? “It starts with the offering of a painted steel object (125 x 80 x 18 cm) to be taken home by the participant (individual, group or collective), who will have a certain period of time (around one month) to realize an artistic experience with it. Although the physical object is the actual element which triggers the processes and starts up the experiences, it in fact brings to the foreground certain sets of invisible lines and diagrams concerning all kinds of relations and sensorial data, making visible networking and mediation structures.” (See:

[76] Ricardo Basbaum, re-projecting (london), wall diagram, 2013

[77] ASK! is a Dutch collective of cultural workers that formed through a collaboration with a domestic workers union during the project The Grand Domestic Revolution, realized by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht.

[78] The full list of contributors included: Ada Court, ASK!, Ania Bas, BNP Paribas Women’s Internal Network, City of Westminster College, Chris Dercon, DreamArts, Paul Elliman, FLAG, Fourth FeathersYouth Centre, Jamie George, Henrietta Hale, Studio Hato, Claudia Hummel, Eva Jablonka, Justice For Domestic Workers, Anton Kats, Annette Krauss, Simone Mair, Marylebone Project, Daniella Mattos, Massimiliano Mollona, Mosaic LGBTYouth Centre, Lania Narjee, Christian Nyampeta, Lucy Pawlak, Andrew Pickering, Read-In!, Seymour Art Collective, Louise Shelley, and Patrick Staff.

[79] As the artist has also written about it, see Ricardo Basbaum. “Within the Organic Line and After” (2006). MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.

[80] Ricardo Basbaum, “re-projecting (London). ”Control Magazine 19/2014.

[81] See also, the artist’s text on the concept of realtionality: Ricardo Basbaum. “Relationality.” Cluster—Dialectionary. Eds. Binna Choi, Maria Lind, Emily Pethick, Natasha Petrešin-Bachelez. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014.

[82] A konzervativizmus igézetében. Egyetlen kortárs sincs a legkedveltebb magyar képzőművészek között [Under the Spell of Conservatism. There is Not a Single Contemporary Artists Among the Most Liked Artists], Fuchs Péter 2009 A művészet kibernetikája. [The Cybernetics of Art]. Műút: 13. (In Hungarian)

[83] A previous version of this text was published in 2002 on exindex. Balázs Beöthy. “3 + 1 = 4 (KMKK = Two Artists, Two Curators, or TATC). Recycled Attention. Exindex., Web Nov. 14. 2015,

[84] The group (19891995) was established by Ádám Kálmán, Ádám Zoltán, Farkas Gábor, Komoróczky Tamás, Ravasz András, Szarka Péter és Szil(i) István, and Mészöly Suzanne, Pálos Miklós, Szücs Atilla were also members for a short time.

[85] Exhibiting or performing artists were Lévay Jenő, Weber Imre, Révész L. László, az ARC Group (GB), Szemző Tibor, Szert Károly, Sugár János, Ősz Gábor, Beöthy Balázs, Sibylle Hofter, Pereszlényi Rolland, Stephen Gueneau (Fr), Karen Rann (GB), Studio Leipzig (D), Walter van den Cruisen (NL), Kistamás László, Csokonai Vitéz Műhely, Tóth Csaba, Peternák Miklós, Győri István, Wimq (NL), René Boessen (B), Andreas Öldorp (D), Eperjesi Ágnes, Várnagy Tibor, Monique Deyres (F), Búra csoport, Veszely Bea, Andreas Reiter Raabe (A), C csoport, Hajdú Kinga, Fekete Balázs, Szirtes János, Beke László, Radics Zoltán (Yu), Bodó Nagy Sándor, Kodolányi Sebestyén, Katharina Roeters (D), You Never Know (A), Stephane Le Mercier (F), Vető János, Maria Lavman (DK), Danielle Kraay (NL), Marc Stephan (D), Esther Jiskoot (NL), Stefan Zeyen (D), Baranyai Levente, Korodi János, Uglár Csaba, Ali Akay (TR), Hüsein Alptekin (TR), Müserref Zeytinoglu (TR), Emre Zeytinoglu (TR), Geert Westphal (D), Hajós Eszter, Kecskés Péter, Khoncz István (chronologically). Besides these, the bread factory was a site for two important group exhibitions, the Spectrum exhibiton of the Intermedia Departmet, which was inititoated by Tamás St.Auby (November 11, 1992), and the Almost Third Contemporary Epigon Exhibiton, which was organized on the suggestion by Tobor Várnagy (January 24-27, 1994).

[86] Installation, Stúdió '90, Ernst Museum, Budapest, 1990; Sound installtion, Goethe Institute, Budapest, 1993; Fremd und Vertraut, Kulturfabrik Salzmann, Kassel, 1993; Eraser installation, Nyolcvanas évek [The Eighties] , Ernst Museum, Budapest, 1994; Giotto paraphrasis, Beyond Belief, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chichago, 1995.

[87] János Kósa: Újlak Story, Új Művészet, 1991/4., János Sugár: Az Újlak, mint munkamódszer (Újlak as a Working Methodology) , in: Újlak (exh. cat., Budapest, 1991), Diana Kingsley. Újlak Group, Tűzoltó u. 72., Artforum, 1993/11., Tibor Várnagy: Újlak Csoport Újlak Co., Balkon, 1995/2., Balázs Beöthy:  Tíz év után. Az egész és a rész (Ten Years After. The Whole and the Part), Praesens, 2005/1.

[88]Under Reconstruction – Újlak 1989–1995  Flórián Mozi (Florian Cinema), Budapest, June 13-16, 2013

[89] Yona Friedman. Architecture without Building,Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art.  Curated by Nikolett Erőss and Hajnalka Somogyi. Exhibition architecture: Philippe Rizzotti Architects. Exhibition design: Gonzague Lacombe. Workshop: EXYZT + Volunteers. Urbanist consultant: Samu Szemerey

[90] Yona Friedman. Mobile Architecture – It All Began in Budapest. Trafó Gallery, September 16 – October 31, 2010. The Architecture of Survival. Learning from Yona Friedman. An international symposium in the organization of KÉK – Contemporary Architecture Center. Curated by Levente Polyák, October 26, 2010 Trafó House of Contemporary Arts