Reimagining the near past and constructing local identities. A Fulbright project by Linnea West (2012-13)
Recently I had the chance to hear curator Lene Ter Haar present “Possibly About To Come: A 90-minute exhibition between visual silence and rehearsing revolution” at the Ludwig Museum. The first in ACAX’s new curator-in-residency program, Ter Haar came to Budapest to focus on how artists and art professionals deal with the idea of public space in a fast-changing social and political landscape at an especially relevant time. Her lecture-as-exhibition was a jam-packed trip through the many experiences she had in the course of her two-month residency. Perhaps my favorite point of hers was a quotation from Dutch museum director Charles Esche, “I would like to see (…) that the museum is no longer viewed as a building but as a way of thinking, a way of approaching the relationship between art and society.”
Overall, she points to a way not forward, per se, as in Modernism, but rather a step-aside, to borrow a phrase from Alessandro Baricco’s Barbarians. Her wide-ranging research included many notable iterations of this alternative, stepping-aside gesture. Some that had been on the periphary of my vision here include Chto delat‘s performance of “Where has Communism gone?” and the BUPAP tours of Anna Lénárd. The former is a Russian art/activist group who engaged the community in a performance of personal experiences of communism by local amateur actors; the latter is a tour that shows an alternative history of Budapest’s streets while using the typical tourist format. From my point of view, these approaches toward mediating historical consciousness go a long way toward dealing with the cultural trauma/amnesia Edit András writes so persuasively about. Ter Haar presents a question for the future:
Combining outcomes of both approaches in a final statement, the ambition of Possibly About To Come is to point to possibilities of occupying new territory by formulating an answer to the question of the current position of art itself: how could artists encourage people, cultural producers and, last but not least, themselves to perceive, re-occupy or even create public spaces as their own stages for active citizenship?
It will be interesting to hear the answer.