My Obvious Presence

03. June 2022. – 29. July
MegnyitóOpening: June 2, 2022, 6:00 pm
KurátorCurator: Oltai Kata

Should I give up everything once again? A thought formulated in my head on one autumn day when I learned that I was again pregnant. The known and the unpredictable challenges of my pregnancy were the reasons, why I started to think as curator about the shifts of directions on the discourse on pregnancy. Our current social environment created a political standard out of ultra-conservative, patriarchal phrases connected to motherhood, therefore giving a special currency to the topic. Mainly by emphasizing its natural, ‘naturally originated’, unquestionably destined aspects. ‘Mother’ became a political factor of the Hungarian social scene – it is clearly stated she is a woman and she is solely responsible for her child’s protection.

This was even visually highlighted in public places. Simultaneously, domestic institutional scene remained silent. All participants disregarded to establish a parallel and critical discourse on motherhood (and on many other identity issues) sometimes because of prohibition, self-censorship, or ignorance. Although, the exhibition is unable to answer all questions raised within international discourses, it attempts to present those Hungarian artists, who are concerned with the topic of motherhood in a secluded way. The list of exhibitors is completed with some international artists, who are articulate about such questions in ways yet to be known by domestic audiences. My Obvious Presence aims to launch a discourse that future exhibitions will react to and will complete, improve, or contradict it.

An intensive phenomenon, present in other visual cultural scenes, is embedded in the aforementioned rough and patriarchal social discourse. Stories about lived motherhood seem to have been dominant through social media – the most democratic platforms for contemporary culture – in recent years. Narrating mothers became initiators and many taboos are breaking, especially the one of silence. Within the noise of parallel discourses, a passive, quiet Mother figure of modernism as well as the independent, responsible, self-identical, open and also marketable Super Mother of neoliberalism are both present.

Connections between feminism and motherhood, reconciliation of independence and dependence have become political questions from the 1960s. While it was an ‘either or’ dilemma and were attached to polarised categories of Mother and Father, the settlement of two concepts arrived by the 1990s – nevertheless, difficulties of representation remained. Denial of ‘too intimate’ or ‘too particular’ urged the need and transition to the questions on how to strategically undermine codes embedded in social constructions and make real complexities of lived motherhood acceptable. Diversity of contemporary discourses has also discovered many subjugated voices such as non-Western, trans and non-white.

Critical examination of the myth around selflessness, questions around necessary loss and rediscovery of selfhood and women experience liberated by feminist affection theory are in the focus of the exhibition My Obvious Presence. It bravely gives voice to disgust, passion, frustration, empathy, solidarity, anger, fear and bursting happiness – the diversity immanent in the motherhood experience. The exhibition primarily examines the complex aspect of dedicating oneself to the Other’s attention, the care lived by the Mother for a shorter or longer period – the temporary loss of identity. Therefore, the ever-exciting aspect of this complex experience couldn’t have been left out either – how does it feel for a woman to become a mother, but her own mother’s passing warns her about the ambiguous characters of parent-child relationships.

Kata Oltai

The idea of the exhibition, initiated by Erika Deák, was realised based on the close, personal and professional relationship between Andi Galdi Vinko and Kata Oltai.

Exhibiting artists: Christen Clifford, Fajgerné Dudás Andrea, Clare Gallagher, Galdi Vinko Andi, Horváth Lóczi Judit, Diana Karklin, Klenyánszki Csilla, Kölcsey Sára, Magyarósi Éva, Bridget Moloney, Omara – Oláh Mara, Szabó Eszter, Tóth Anna Eszter, Magdalena Wosinska