Reimagining the near past and constructing local identities. A Fulbright project by Linnea West (2012-13)
I have added an essay to the website; you can find in on the left hand sidebar. More academic and analytic than the rest of the website, it discusses how context and identity function in a selection of critical, Conceptual artworks recent artworks related to Hungarian history. The selected artworks address historical consciousness in Hungary, which I argue serve to enlarge conceptions of collective identities while dealing with the limiting factor of context.
There are many avenues for continued research—the artworks I selected are representative, but not by any means a comprehensive view of contemporary Hungarian art. More work putting Hungary in context of the region as a whole would be very useful, and well as considering the legacy and implications of the neo-avant-garde on current artmaking.
In terms of holes in my research, I would be interested in exploring further female artists (where are the women?) and Roma artists (where is their perspective?). I speak about artists enlarging a sense of collective identities in their works, yet I don’t touch on the most substantial minority group in Hungary—the Roma—except in passing (Csaba Nemes made two films on the subject). However, when I met with Timea Junghaus, the executive director of the European Roma Cultural Foundation and curator at Gallery 8, the only space in Hungary for fine art by Roma artists, she said that few Roma artists take the Conceptual approach that interested me for this project. Junghaus is currently writing a dissertation on the representations of Roma in the visual arts, which will add to the body of knowledge in this field and which I look forward to.
Sometimes it feels as if Budapest is waiting for its moment to come—when the art world will descend and recognize all that is happening in the fine arts here, bringing in international curators and collectors, recognition and dollars. Hungary remains one of the lesser-known art scenes among its neighbors. I touch on the role of context in my essay, which plays a part but does not fully explain the relative lack of attention given to contemporary Hungarian art internationally. Teasing out the reasons and implications of that is another interesting avenue for thought. I question whether that is poised to change—although in the past five years it has begun to—or if rather the arts will follow the general trend of the country toward a more isolated, internally focused stance.