21. October 2000. - 8. November
It was just like the second-best scene from the John Malkovich film: exactly the same figure pops up simultaneously in the most
diverse scenes and roles. The whole thing started with a film screening. Already during the commercials, when we still did not know that
this was far from the best and liveliest part of the evening, the frequency of the appearance of the tigers was obvious. Later, a tiger also
was rendered the symbol of the comprehensive anguish of the feature film. The hero fights in the Colosseum in a life and death struggle
against four tigers who have been expertly starved and provoked for several days. In the foreground we see a sight stretched to the
breaking point, while the fifth tiger, in the background, with apathetic deportment, is barely able to to stand on his feet. I would even swear
that he had grazed. In comparison to this striped Gladiator-bunny worth millions, a half-dazed, toothless example that I saw not long ago,
as an accidental witness to a cheap porn film shoot in a circus tent, radiated more ferocity from within.
Even taking into account the matter of common knowledge that rabbits propagate more rapidly than tigers, the frequent appearance of the carrot-gluttons in the past few weeks in Budapest was at least as apparent, and perhaps much more justifiable: an international Beuys conference took place at the Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle Budapest, with scores of truly fascinating presentations, with witnesses to the great times and the comrades of Beuys. It is telling that the Italian participant, Baroness Lucrezia de Domizio di Durini, who would like to appropriate Beuys' last 15 years for her own and for Italy, made her entrance with her hair cut short and dyed conspicuously carrot-red.
The signs lead at first to the Ernst Museum, unfortunately merely superficially renovated. At the same time as the conference, an exhibition celebrating ten years of the existence of the Block Group was held there. Successful, nevertheless they are always on the lookout for something new. They do not run after trends, but rather build tactics and tendencies into their own works.
In the Ernst Museum, there are at first three and a half large-scale installations, in which the formal tools, such as video projection, mechanical movement and fluorescent colours, are employed in a variety of ways. Thus, the viewer will be, on the one hand, more sensitive to the impact of the use of tools of the same style as employed for diverse aims, while at the same time, via the comparison of recurringly emergent effects, s/he can better approach the most divergent content.
On the first floor, on the righthand side, we quickly forget the other exhibition, and we proceed directly ahead, then following the line of the wall, we turn right twice so that we arrive at what I consider to be the first installation. This is the least convincing among them all: two video images simultaneously projected onto the surface of water are reflected into the corner of the space, on the wall. The water is disturbed by cloths driven by the motor of a windshield-wiper: the movement of the electronic images is intermingled with the waves. It seems like the investment and technology, including the expansive water surface, outweigh the weak and symbolic images. That certain lightness which renders difficult subjects approachable is missing. Something may be felt of the lack of balance between the form and content also in the installation seen at the rear of the space, albeit the mechanically flashing and ceasing UV-light on the wall, manifest as an enormous fluorescent and sensitive painterly oval, is just surprising enough that we are able to forget about the crude technique. Furthermore, we are almost ready to believe in its intended charm, with which it links the object and the vision, attained within the contextual relation between its oval alternating flashing and the enormous ”HIMMEL”caption lying before it on the floor. On our way back from the paradoxical game with its illuminating colours and projection, on the righthand side along the wall, we catch sight of a smaller work, Leda and the Swan, while a hutch of approximately 3x3 metres practically bars our way completely. This is the summit of our tour in semi-darkness, and at the same time, hurls us back to the Beuys conference and to the cinema.
The grating of the hutch is made of a thick screen of wire, with a video projector and a monitor inside. An image is projected across the grate onto the wall which is at a distance of about 3 metres, in such a way that it can be seen clearly on both sides of the network of wires, just as it is seen ”outside” on the wall, in much larger dimensions. A toy bunny made of metal is wound up, hops once on the tabletop, tips over, falls down, and is wound up once again. One cannot say whether this refers to the childish desire for freedom of confined rabbits, the humiliation of domesticated bunnies, or the lightness of fantasy that transgresses boundaries. These are open questions that touch upon the essence of art in our functionalized world. It is about inspiration, and that we should deal with our own freedom, as formulated by Beuys' notion of Expanded Art. We have to bend down to the monitor standing on the floor of the cage, close to the grating, on which we can see five white rabbits before a grated gate, slowly gnawing on carrots formed into letters. The carrots spell out: BEUYS. The best idea in the John Malkovich film is the mezzanine.