Random Situation Report Nr. 32, Budapest

“Moszkva tér (Gravitation/Gravitáció)”


Oecumenic Surf

She is rather lucky that she has, after all, returned home for the oecumeic church meeting. As she has set up camp in Városmajor, she has a good chance of following the public art event series titled “Moszkva tér (Gravitation)” organised by the Ludwig Museum and taking place in Moszkva tér.
Her little surfer heart is happy about the idea that the projects should focus on a specific public space, and she is glad that finally the excellent, progressive genre of public art is beginning to gain ground in Hungary. At first glance, the contestants seem to be in the first round of this cognitive manifestation. But if all goes well, and the teams are persistent, the audience just might be able to tune in around the thousandth round, when they are finally snapped out of their usual state of passivity, disinterest and un-openness
“And then we will have arrived in the promised land, because everyone will be laid back, playful and great vista of the Carpathian Basin will open up before us,” she ponders as she zips up the mosquito screen, drinks the last sip of instant soup from her tin cup and jogs down to the square.
The opening event performed by the HINTS group proves to be enlightening. They are passing out humble brown snacks bags, similarly to a Red Cross food drive. According to the plan, everyone – from the homeless through the wide range of passers-by to the workers of the art institution – is to be a recipient of this charity, in accordance with the motto: “Everyone is a guest, everyone is a host.”
There is no problem with the logic of it all, as everyone likes to receive. But the PR organisers have killed the point by offering separate refreshments specifically to the invited art experts on the terrace of the Gomba coffee bar, which looks over the square from its central location. This unavoidably results in art connoisseurs not wanting to descend into the commotion of the square, being that they can observe from the safe distance of the terrace as the masses struggle for the packages. Though the surfer is a bit annoyed by the degree of voraciousness with which the homeless overpower the scene, not giving a chance to those less conditioned to receive handout. Of course, the HINTS people could have chosen the point of distribution more cleverly by choosing a spot in the square where the flow of passing crowd would have offered a more representative cross-section of the total population.
The next surprise is marked in an even more prominent and contradictory fashion by the PR people: the bags which contain the press packets bare the logo of a toothpaste brand with a gift tube of the product itself in the distribution packs. Are journalists to wash out their mouths? Low foam plus marketing rubbish – this is exactly what Ágnes Eperjesiwill fight against in her enterprise titled “Colour, Advertisement-Free Zone” (“Színes, reklámmentes övezet”), whereby she will slide the commercial shopping bags of the passers-by into unmarked bags.
The only positive and effective media idea is the publication of a special issue of the program magazine, PestiEst

So the heroin, after securely locking her board in front of the Greek canteen, sets out to look at the projects, one after the other.
Because of their minimal novelty value, she is not overly impressed by the sketchy wooden sculpture variations of Róza El Hassan‘s “R Is Thinking of Overpopulation” (“R. a túlnépesedésre gondol”) or by the chain globe of Little Warsaw’s “Memorial to the Last Biennale” (“Az utolsó biennálé emlékműve”). Nevertheless, it is true that they are organically incorporated into the landscape: for example, someone periodically sits down next to El Hassan’s sculpture, then proceeds to dress it and put a newspaper in its hand.
Ilona Németh‘s “Capsules” (“Kapszulák”), consisting of two sleeping alcoves, employs a different means of incorporation: it allows one to observe the process of light-speed amortisation. While the idea of an installation intended for surfers, who wish to take a rest or make love, bares poetic beauty, it is a shame that the artists have come up with no suggestions for solving the problems of its practical maintenance and hygiene.
Bp‘s project is the best in its simplicity: for the duration of the fest, the famous clock of Moszkva tér, the meeting point and origin of many human relationships, shows Moscow time. It sneaks into the frontal lobes of pedestrians subtly, unconsciously. It creates connections without any trace of arrogance, and expresses its rule-dictating power in very specific scenarios of tardiness and misunderstanding. Hopefully, after the event, it will all be forgotten…
Equally as pleasant are Tibor Gyenis’ actions by the title “Tyborman,” in which he installs himself in irrational poses onto various architectural features of the square, with the help of a hidden bracing device. The surprise artist is delighted to receive suggestions as to how he could make his act even more exciting.
In the trailer of “Time Patrol” (“Időjárőr”), János Sugár collects stories from the local population – mostly illegal workers and young people. In his experience, the storytellers are motivated not only by the fee for dictation, but by the opportunity, itself, to finally be heard and have their words be considered important. The raw texts are soon available at Moszkva tér’s newsagent stand in newspaper format, the sales of which will, according to the artist’s plans, cover the costs of further dictations.
Andreas Fogarasi‘s two illuminated pseudo-advertisements “Digital Justice” and “Sound Traveler” leave something to be desired as few in the local fishing/hunting/gathering cultures are aware that the signs are promoting Yugoslav record companies. And even if those passing by know this, the question may occur to them, what these particular hunting fields have to do with the Yugoslav music industry. Without possession of this background information, however, the compound words are not strong enough and cannot hold their ground.
Sándor Bartha‘s postcard series “False Cityscapes” (“Hamisíott városképek”) is especially painful to the city-image protecting, graffiti-supporting surfer soul. The heroin does not understand how much courage it may take to shoot photos of racist graffiti, retouch them, and then distribute the reproductions of cleaned up wall surfaces in the form of postcards. What effect would these pictures of empty walls have in another part of town? What would they accomplish? Advertising civil order? Why doesn’t the artist overwrite, spatter, or gouge out the graffiti to provide those reading the abusive words with an alternative?
Alright, it is time to take a break with a piece of baklava from the Greek bar. The honey is dripping from her fingers while she is leafs through Péter Szabóand Csaba Csiki‘s newspaper, Moszkva Tér Plusz. The paper offers a pleasant medley in approaching the square from a number of characteristic perspectives, starting from an architectural analysis of the place (which sheds light on some fascinating connections within the landscape) and finishing with the description of an advertisement-smudging partisan endeavour.
Returning to the scene, she feels extremely happy about Londoner, Carey Young, and her use of totally pro and businesslike methods in her works, in which she explores the ways that high standard business strategies can be employed as useful tactics in everyday life. This time around, she’ has seated a mediator, or official intermediary, on Moszkva tér, who is there to help resolve conflicts that the parties involved are not able to resolve on their own. As this function is still unknown in Hungary, and since the event has not exactly been over-advertised by the organisers, persons in disputes are, unfortunately, not taking advantage of this service – only a few people seek out the mediator for advice.
Tamás St.Auby‘s “Gravitation St.and” (“Gravitáció St.and”) is not really crowded either. An average of two curious visitors per day engage in minimal interaction: to the question “Should We Enter the Neutral Non-Armed Flux Green Zone of Near Eastern Europe?” they reply with the question, “What is Flux Green?” If Tamás St. Auby really does wish to know people’s opinion, why doesn’t he explain to them what he is talking about? If, on the other hand, he does not want to know, why does he take to the streets with this question?
Not far from “St.and,” the bronze box of the Dutch Bik van der Pol duo is located, which, in theory simultaneously collects and hands out donations. Whoever has spare change can drop it in, whoever needs some, can take it out. The object stands in memoriam of Miklós Erdélyi’s paper box of 1956 titled “Unguarded Money” (“Őrizetlen Pénz”). Due to the sociological disproportions of the square and the impersonal nature of the idealisation, the box is always empty.
Sándor Bodó-Nagy‘s database of found art, “Symmetry Guide” (“Szimmetria-kalauz”), is a computerised collection of small matters of curiosity belonging to the cityscape. The surfer’s functional illiteracy might be the reason why she is not able in any way to enlarge the images of the documentation to a sufficient size. Thus, it does not become clear to her what features of the city the artist regards important.
As the works of Balázs Beöthy, Andreja Kuluncic and Stefan Keller will come into realisation later, only after the clear and taut moment of the surf, the surfer cannot give an account of these.
She can’t help herself, on the way home she stops by at the Greek place for another piece of baklava. The sugar gives her brain cells a sudden sensation of benign effervescence: obviously, the interpretation of public art has not completely come of age in the art scene. But one thing is for sure: at least there are efforts made for assimilating these tendencies – which is a very positive thing. Both the organisers and the participants are, no doubt, learning a lot, and the occasionally campaigning, commando-like appearance will gain refinement.

By the time she returns to her tent, it is growing dark, the bonfire is burning bright in the park. Shared night prayer and sleeping bag.

Translated by: Zsófia Rudnai