Hungarians of Universal Significance
The monotone iteration of the voices of telephone wake-up call girls concludes The Age of Dreaming: Please, wake up! The heroes of István Szabó”s film are technical intellectuals who, upon emerging from the university, would like to transform the world with their inventions, but they are perpetually coming up against the brick walls of the established system.
One cannot foresee when and how the story of the Dreamers of Dreams – Hungarians of Universal Significance exhibition will conclude, to what ends. The fate of the realisation of the exhibition idea until now demonstrates that no matter how far-reaching the original conception, no matter how immense the work invested, the system established in the past few years and built upon a fluffed-up-national-image homogenizes and deteriorates everything.
The Pantheon of Hungarian invention – in its material form – is the life-size maquette of the Hungarian veterinary anatomical model (wooden – Trojan) horse. It seems to be, after all, so unparalleled, monumental and comprehensive of everything that, facing it, it is difficult to take the position of an outside observer. There are no declarations because there are no questions either.
According to one of the greatest art historians of our age, Horst Bredekamp, art history is obliged to repossess the general responsibility for images and symbols, from the visual world of soap operas, through works of art up till the user interfaces of computers. These images, that is, derive from the images of reality or desire, which are themselves, without exception, the parts of some sort of image-history.
Criticism of the most extravagant exhibition of recent years might begin with the story of the chasm that evolved between the images dreamed and the spectacle in reality. The scenario which was originally elaborated by experts and professionals and remained valid until the summer of 2001, when the appointed organiser, Krisztina Jerger, departed, is related to the tulle-wrapped exhibition now visible in just the same way as the National Theatre plan by Ferenc Ban relates to the building realised by Mária Siklós (corporate image design by Happy End Ltd.). It is not certain that the seven-metre-high, Széchenyi head, which one could enter, or the images projected onto the plaster sculptures of Hungarian writers would have provided the most suitable solution for the presentation of Hungarian inventions, but the notions that arose and were debated occupied a rational order.
The original conception comprised the idea to highlight certain elements and focus on the essential, and a plan that was structured from the accumulated material of an immeasurable quantity, arranged around various accentuated personalities. It appeared to be capable – and this could have been the single intelligent objective of the exhibition – of rendering accessible the accumulated knowledge according to novel perspectives. It seemed to be ready to forget (the rest) with a view to convey information.
In contrast, the structure of the realised exhibition is chaotic and the emphases to be found are incidental. The most elementary harmony between the accentuated objects of great importance and their representation is lacking. Objectivity is simulated, while the very notion of distinction is not understood. It conceals the fact that the exhibited objects could speak for themselves. Instead, it chooses the less original genre of the didactic, encyclopedic exhibition, without indicating any context.
With the disappearance of differences, the target groups also become blurred. The material that was originally to be interactive, thought-provoking and inspiring interest, calibrated to youth and students, was transformed overnight to an immense inundation of text, impossible to take in, waiting to be packed up. Nowadays in a freshly built museum or a exhibition realised of high standard, we cannot take even a step without stumbling into CD-Rom”s to be clicked through, walkman guides or 3D displays. In such places, multimedia is also often used just to be fashionable or with the aim of filling empty space. A classic counter-example is the San Francisco Exploratorium ( http://www.exploratorium.org), which at its establishment in 1969 was the first to exchange the static exhibition model for a truly tangible, shiftable, experienceable milieu. On the basis of its budget and original objectives, The Dreamers of Dreams could have been suitable for the development of authentic interactivity. As opposed to this, this exhibition is characterised by a complete and utter lack of interactivity, where computers are employed in a static and unambitious way, allowing for vandalism (cracking?).
The static spectacle tends toward the absurd: the installation which attempts to include everything, sparkling in the air, evokes the scenery of Alien. [pic] In place of a monumental sculpture, the deformed Széchenyi which about to melt [pic] stands about, solitary before the Chain Bridge wrapped in tulle, looking at the functionless Agora. And instead of a demanding installation to Semmelweiss – the originally planned marble dissection table, associated with death, did not conform to the PR plans – he received a hospital bed with a TV. [pic] In the dusty Liszt memorial room [pic], alongside the descriptive text, two right-handed gloves of the immortal composer look out at us from the vitrine. The canvases containing the text, on the other hand, cover every original object placed beneath them in half-shadow. [pic] [pic+] [pic++] [pic+++]
It also remains obscure how it is possible that the Hungarians of universal importance ultimately speak to the world only in Hungarian. And in general, who is talking here, and to whom?
In our dreams, we are capable of speaking in several languages.
The alarm clock, on the other hand, is unfortunately not a Hungarian invention