Balkan Konsulat: Budapest

In positioning Budapest within the framework of the Balkan Konsulat, this exhibition deliberately tries to avoid any singular or essentialist image which could stand for the city of Budapest, the Hungarian nation and contemporary Hungarian art. It rather relates to the concept of the "consulate", understood as an institution that fulfils its representative function through acts of mediation between people, cities, countries and cultures. The exhibition's relation with the Balkans is also thought in non-illustrative terms and it deals with questions of identity, otherness, social and cultural prejudice and communication. For the same reason, the selection of artists goes beyond the national framework. Alongside with participants from Hungary there are artists from Vienna and Bucharest - cities with which Budapest has deep historical connections - as well as artists from Berlin and Hamburg who have collaborated for years with their colleagues from Budapest. Apart from thematic diversity and the use of various media, the artists and artist groups from this exhibition are linked by their constant interest in things happening outside their studios, in relating art and society by the very act of mediation. Undertaking the role of mediation, they act as "consuls" of the Balkan Konsulat, try to establish communication between different categories of public and the art field, between Budapest and Graz and the other cities involved. Finally, by adopting an open structure this exhibition wishes to respond to the openness of the host institution, the "rotor", which has promoted alternative thinking and practice for a long time.

The Budapest based "KMKK" group, made up of two artists, János Sugár and Róza El-Hassan, and two curators, Dóra Hegyi and Emese Süvecz, has decided to transfer to Graz its local practices dealing with "attention recycling", i.e. with artists, works and phenomena situated at the periphery of the general attention. They have a three-part contribution to the exhibition: a selection of works from the collection of the Graz Bleich Rossi Gallery, a complaints box in which the public may insert comments on issues raised by the position of Graz as the cultural capital of Europe this year, and a collaborative project by Talán Sebeő from Budapest, who "dialogues" with Graz readers of small adds from a local newspaper. "radiomana" is a new project made by the artists - Miklós Erhardt, Dominic Hislop (Berlin), Tibor Várnagyand others - who edit "Manamana", an irregular, free paper which appears in Budapest and aims at connecting the art scene to domains of civilian activity and political activism. Founded in 2000, "Manamana" has grown beyond the borders of the newspaper, it has become a project linking different groups of people, many outside the art scene. This time, the "Manamana" presentation is intended to include radio programmes made in collaboration with an independent local radio station in Graz. Christoph Rauch (Hamburg) and Attila Menesi (Budapest) present a project concerned with new icons of big cities, in this case, Budapest, which urban physiognomy today is characterised by sharp contrasts between the new implants and the former shape of the city. A small group of people from Graz is brought to Budapest and guided by the two artists, the documentation and commentaries of the trip being presented in the exhibition. caa (contemporary art analysis) is an ongoing project developed by two Bucharest based artists, Lia and Dan Perjovschi. Conceived as an archive, a kind of museum-in-files documenting contemporary art, the "institution" has extended its mission to preserve independent positions in the art scene, to empower promising individuals and initiatives, to "act as a broker in East - West contexts". The installation from the Graz exhibition will present the "caa" archive transformed into a center for contemporary art analysis and Dan Perjovschi's drawings commenting social, political and artistic issues of the day. Taking as its starting point the lack of Hungarian presence at the first platform of Documenta 11 that took place in Vienna in spring 2001, the video made by Andreas Fogarasi (Vienna) presents a series of interviews with Budapest based artists and curators, who talk about their positioning vis-a-vis contemporary art and the international context. Outside the exhibition space, in front of the Graz Schauspielhaus, in the Freiheitsplatz, there will be placed two billboards showing the works of Gábor Bakos and Balázs Beöthy from Budapest. 

Judit Angel