Reimagining the near past and constructing local identities. A Fulbright project by Linnea West (2012-13)
Interestingly, as I look back over my work from the past months here in Budapest and I plan my last artist meetings, I find that I have only met with one female artist, Lilla Lőrinc, who works in collaboration with János Borsos. This surprises me.
I don’t think it is because there are not female artists doing interesting work here in Hungary; I also do not think it is because I am sexist(!). Emese Benczúr, for example, does some fantastic work that I really enjoy. Katarina Sevic has a fascinating artistic practice that is conceptual and socially engaged, often considering the divisions between public and private spheres. But her work doesn’t reflect a particularly local or regional or historical interest, and certainly not a national one. Lilla Szász‘s feminist docu-photography practice examines marginal parts of Hungarian society, often women; Mária Chilf is another great artist whose work is not related to my topic. Photographer Gabrielle Csozsó’s interest is now more that of an activist photographer, very involved the recent protests. None of these artist fit very well into my examination of national identity stemming from a conceptual, critical perspective on social issues.
Perhaps there is a gendered division of artistic labor. The public realm and society remain in the “masculine” sphere; issues of interiority, personal or domestic issues, ideas about body, self, and individual relations remain “feminine.” This is a possible explanation, but I remain surprised and puzzled. Exploring this theory is one of many research facets that I don’t have time to pursue as I begin to wrap up my research.