Sack, Sack Full of Sack…
Report on the Surprise Event Series
While Surprise 1 and 2 were classic exhibitions, the content of the third little sack was revealed to us for only one night. The one-off-ness of the artistic and social gathering taking place in the Ludwig Museum (on 4 December 2001) was motivated first and foremost by two unrepeatable events (or shall we call them actions?).
The crowd pouring through the door bumped into the creation of Tibor Gyenis. The photo-documentation of the previous version of the work realised in front of the façade of the Trafó may be viewed, incidentally, in Dunaújváros. We can see, at a height of a good two-and-a-half metres, supported against the wall with planks, a curator and an artist. The stable position of the people fixed with wooden strips – whose condition can be conceived also as a paraphrase of the iconographic tradition of the Saviour stretched upon the cross – is promoted not by the support of the boards, however: at the conclusion of the endeavours of the summoned, interactive viewers (friends), attempting to buttress (impale) various body parts, it came to light that even without all of this assistance, the artist and the art historian remain there before the plane of the wall. Inconsistent with the laws of gravity, they float between the heavens and the earth, like angels or saints visiting among us. (Santa Claus!) In the knowledge of the solution to the trick (which I will deliberately not betray), I felt a touch of envy: for at least a half-hour, they succeeded in rising above the nerve-wracking everyday.
The other live event was a pan-artistic composition of VDJ (video-disc-jockey) Safy Sniper. In Hungary, a more popular version of this is well-known: the mind-release combining splashing, video and moving image projections and loud music – the “cinetrip”. While here, the image, sound and light effects are the paraphernalia facilitating a consciousness-altering state, Sniper — with a quite serious technical basis — does not merely vary prefabricated elements with the aid of a computer, but edits, programs, manipulates and mixes on-site. The piece presented in the aula of the Ludwig Museum — in which we can trace as recurring motifs: conductor (like the unintentional projection of the artist”s role), blazing fire, dark images of war, famous pop-stars (e.g., Annie Lennox, Michael Jackson, Madonna) — taken from video images, with long, repetitive cuts, and in which we can hear sound-effects that are difficult to identify (e.g., an excerpt from one of Hitler”s speeches) — turned out a bit too long for my taste, but the first fifty minutes attained perfectly the desired effect: it captivated and amazed — practically riveted me to my place.
During the other part of the night, we could attend a peculiar home-movie. According to the plans, Klaus Weber‘s clip — in which the author demonstrates nonconformist modes of employment of a park bench, while his head is covered by a paper bag — would be able to be seen by a wider audience inserted into blocks of advertising in Budapest cinemas. It seemed that within that context, as a real surprise, it was bound to work more effectively (as a work of art, it struck one as a bit of a simple gag), but there was no way to ascertain this, unfortunately.
The climax of the Surprise event-series was Christian Jankowski‘s video entitled Sacred Art , which was worshipfully made by an American — but not explicitly confined to — religious community, utilising in part pictures that are visibly from broadcast live on the TV. (Or could the believer sitting in front of the television have seen exactly this recording at a given time? This was to remain a secret until the end.) The artist — with his own little handheld camera – addressed by name, presents himself before the pastor, where he unexpectedly collapses and, during the course of events, remains there. While they pray, followers with legs dancing (in slippers) burst into catchy gospel tunes, and while the pastor extremely suggestively illuminates for the congregation the existence of sacred art. The spiritual leader, holding out bright prospects of the makings of American TV stars and showmen (like a sacrosanct Jay Leno), with an unbelievable impetus, persuades us of the nature of art”s inspiration by the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, so that then in the common prayer, they consecrate and supplicate Him, thus:
“Thank You, my Lord, for creating video, because this is a medium with which we can communicate… We are praying that this artwork, this bridge of sacred art, be built between the artist, religion and the television… Father, we implore You to convert the people of the church, so that they can understand the value of contemporary art… Father, we thank You for the aims of sacred artworks, which are none other than to touch the hearts of those who can see, and to show them that it is not possible only to see uniplanarly, but in several dimensions… Give, so that we can expand the definition of contemporary art ”. The artist, in the last minutes of thanks being rendered, comes to himself, and thus he steps forward: Thank You, my Lord. Thank You for making this possible!”
What can I possibly add to all this? Amen, or: so be it.