"There is an urgent need for multiple alternative representations of the past, not to record mere historical facts, but to make sense (and meaning) of it for all of us."
(Gábor Gyáni: Relative History)
During the historical period of the system change beginning in the mid-eighties and partially completed by the free elections in 1990, Hungary broke with the oppressive party-state regime and became a democratic and pluralistic republic. In the course of the politico-economic transition, the state-property-based, planned economy was replaced by a private-property-based, market economy with free competition. The Hungarian change of regime as a turning point is primarily linked to the year of 1989, as this year saw the biggest and most symbolic events within the transformation (Imre Nagy's reburial, the death of János Kádár, the proclamation of the Republic of Hungary), although the years before and after 1989 also abounded in significant events hastening and then contributing to the completion of the turn.
Euphoria - this is the word that seems to express the most accurately the intense feelings the change of regime in Hungary provoked amongst those who welcomed it. The multifarious contents that this word conveys, relating to the revolutionary vision, the promising signs, and then the certainty and the potentials of the transition, greatly vary from person to person. Was it intense happiness; the ecstasy of freedom; the prospect of obtaining justice; the fulfillment of the desire to join Europe; or artificial stupefaction? On the one hand, the question mark in the title aims to ask what these euphoric experiences mean 30 years later for those who went through them. On the other hand, it refers to that that in the context of the system change, euphoria is an umbrella term covering a multitude of personal system-change stories.
Each of the emblematic pictures, photo series, documents, and video works lined up in the EUPHORIA? exhibition could on its own, separately demonstrate as a case study what happened during the change of regime, providing a condensed representation of the ideas associated with this turbulent, expectant period. The works, projects, and ensembles shown, ranging from the biggest events of '89 to the most private affairs regarding their topics, are each complemented with narrative commentaries from thinkers and visual artists who were already active back in the day, evoking personal stories under their own perspectives. The exhibition is structured as an anthology on the system change, consisting of visual pieces and related commentaries - an irregular historical reader in which emblematic works and their subjective interpretations can be studied in parallel. The diversity of side-by-side threads, as opposed to a great integral chronicle, emphasizes the importance of simultaneous versions of a given era and the relevance of individual narratives in accordance with the postmodern approach to historiography.