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The Lunch (in memoriam Batu Khan) – the first happening in Hungary

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Date: 25 June 1966

Participants and organizers: Gábor Altorjay, Tamás Szentjóby (with the cooperation of  Miklós Jankovics and István Varannai, with the help of Enikő Balla, Miklós Erdély, and Csaba Koncz)

Location: The cellar of István Szenes, Budapest

The happening was organized in the cellar of a private house by Gábor Altorjay and Tamás Szentjóby.
There were about sixty viewers. In addition to a short film and several photographs there are three detailed written descriptions of the happening: a review of the happening published by László Kamondy in the weekly magazine, Tükör; the recollections of Gábor Altorjay published two years later as an appendix to the article by Ottó Tolnai entitled “On the Newest Hungarian Poetry” in the Novi Sad Hungarian language magazine New Symposium; and a secret police report also written in 1968. All three texts differ at points regarding how and what happened, and what sense it made.

Documents:
Gábor Altorjay: The Lunch (in memoriam Batu Khan) (1968)
Anonym secret police officers: Summary report and action plan regarding happenings (1968)
The Lunch (in memoriam Batu Khan) – The first Hungarian Happening – n/8, b&w film, camera: László Gyémánt.


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Image Architecture – exhibition by Lajos Kassák

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Date: 03 March 1967

Participant: Lajos Kassák (1887-1967)

Opening by: Máté Major (1904-1986, architect, editor)

Location: Adolf Fényes Hall, Budapest

The occasion for this exhibition was the 80th birthday of the artist,who since 1949, was hardly able to get official permission to exhibit his abstract works in Hungary. The Adolf Fényes Hall was an exhibition space offered for self-financed shows that were not funded by the state – as all other public exhibitions – but by the artists themselves. The author of the text, Ferenc Csaplár (1940-2007), was the director of the Kassák Múzeum from its foundation in 1976 until 2007. This article was written on the occasionof an exhibition with the same title.

Documents:

Ferenc Csaplár: From Prohibition to Tolerance, Kassák’s Work and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s (2006)

Victor Vasarely’s letter to Lajos Kassák (1966)


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Iparterv actions and exhibitions

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Dates: 29 November 1968 (Do You See What I See) , 22 December 1968 (Iparterv I), 24  October 1969 (Iparterv II)

Participants: Imre Bak, András Baranyay, Miklós Erdély, Krisztián Frey, Tamás Hencze, György Jovánovics, Ilona Keserü, Gyula Konkoly, László Lakner, János Major, László Méhes, Sándor Molnár, István Nádler, Ludmil Siskov, Tamás Szentjóby, Endre Tót

Organizer: Péter Sinkovits (1943)

Opening by: János Tölgyesi (Iparterv I)

Location: Iparterv State Architectural Office, meeting hall, Budapest

Tamás Szentjóby planned an exhibition entitled “Donor” in July 1968, in the Iparterv State Architectural Office, but it was cancelled after the invitation leaflet was printed and distributed. Three months later and three weeks before the famous first Iparterv exhibition he organized actions entitled  “Do You See What I See”  in the same location with Miklós Erdély and László Méhes. In the “Iparterv 68-80″ catalog issued in 1980 Erdély described these actions as his connection to the Iparterv group.

The hall of the Iparterv Office was not used regularly for exhibitions and the shows were open only for a few days. The first famous group show presenting the “first generation of the neo-avantgarde” in 1968  was accompanied by a small catalog containing a short introduction by the curator, Péter Sinkovits and the reproduction of the works and the CVs of the participants.

In 1969 four more artists, András Baranyay, László Méhes, János Major, and Tamás Szentjóby accepted Sinkovits’ invitation.  A year later a catalog was printed illegally in the printing house of the Iparterv Office with a slightly different list of artists (Tamás Szentjóby and Sándor Molnár was left out, Miklós Erdély and Attila Pálfalusi included).

In 1980 a commemorating exhibition was initiated by art historian László Beke (1944) and Lóránd Hegyi (1954). On this occasion a comprehensive English-Hungarian publication was issued containing several studies and also documents of the previous exhibitions in addition to the works of the participants.  Finally, shortly before the Regime Change, in December 1988 a three-part “Hommage à Iparterv” series was organized in the Fészek Gallery by Lóránd Hegyi.

Documents:

Péter Sinkovits: Introduction of the publication Document 69–70 (1970)

Miklós Erdély describing the actions performed by him (1980)


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Self-financed exhibition by György Jovánovics and István Nádler

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Date: 15 March 1970

Participants: György Jovánovics (1939),  István Nádler (1938)

Opening action with János Frank (1925 – 2004)

Location: Adolf Fényes Hall, Budapest

The Adolf Fényes Hall was a gallery offered for the presentation of tendencies that were not supported but tolerated by the official cultural politics. In addition to István Nádler’s geometric paintings György Jovánovics exhibited a huge plaster sculpture, whose shape was repeating to the ground plan of the gallery. The exhibition was opened by a fictive radio program that – after the most important international news of the day reported on the exhibition itself . After the exhibition, Jovánovics transported the work to Miklós Erdély’s garden, where the sculpture became the setting for a number of spontaneous events, some of which were documented in photographs. Later Jovánovics called this work, more precisely the opening “the best work of my life” in a lecture reconstructing the event held in Artpool Art Research Center. In the 1980s it also inspired János Sugár (1958) to make an exhibition and shoot a film in the same location.

Documents:

Tape script of the opening action (1970)

Invitation leaflet for György Jovánovics’s public lecture at Artpool P60, “The Best Work of My Life” (1999)

János Sugár on Adolf Fényes Hall, his film Persian Walk, and his exhibition “Exhibition Scenery” (1999)

Video of György Jovánovics’ lecture at Artpool (1999)


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PSEUDO – exhibition by Gyula Pauer

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Date: 3 October 1970

Participant: Gyula Pauer (1941)

Location: József Attila Culture House, Budapest

Gyula Pauer’s two day exhibition could be realized in an off-site culture house as scenery for János Gulyás’s graduation film at the Hungarian Academy of Theatre and Film. The reporter, Géza Perneczky, art historian and artist, interviewed the audience, critics and the artist at the opening.

The room’s walls, ceiling and floor was covered with plastic foil that was spray-painted in a folded state. Gyula Pauer’s First Pseudo Manifesto was distributed as a flyer during the opening.

Documents:

Visitors interviewed during the opening of the exhibition “Pseudo” (1970)

Gyula Pauer: The First PSEUDO Manifesto (1970)

János Gulyás: Pseudo (1970)


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A White Space in a White Space

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Date: 1973-1974

Participants and organizers: Stano Filko (1937), Miloš Laky (1948–1975), Ján Zavarský (1948)

Locations: Studio of Stano Filko, Bratislava; House of Arts, Brno; Young Artists Club, Budapest

The joint initiative of three artists—Stano Filko, Miloš Laky, and Ján Zavarský—left behind the sphere of science and technology in order to reach a spatial experience of the color white, and to equate painting to a mystical experience. White paint was applied, without any personal gesture, onto various objects and materials (i.e., carton tubes, felt)—it considered as a sign of transcendence beyond the the boundaries of the objective world. In a joint manifesto, the authors removed themselves from all systems of representation in order to fulfill the following goals: to create a visual equivalent of an empty space and in a sense to dematerialize art objects to exceed individuality; to clear away a single author’s personal perspective; and to negate traditional means of painting in visual art. The project was exhibited in the House of Arts, Brno (1973) and in the Young Artists Club,  Budapest (1977). Two self-published catalogs by the artists were published, accompanied by a manifesto, and texts written by Jiří Valoch, Tomáš Štrauss, and László Beke.


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NUDE/MODEL – exhibition and performance by Orsolya Drozdik

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Date: 4-10 January 1977

Performed by: Orsolya Drozdik

Opening : András Halász (1946), Zsigmond Károlyi (1952), Károly Kelemen (1948), Miklós Erdély (1928-1986), László Beke (1944)

Location: Club of Young Artists, Budapest

Orsolya Drozdik – then member of the postconceptualist artist group, the Rózsa Circle (1976-77) – drew a female nude in the exhibition space for a week. The “exhibition” was opened every day by four different male artists and an art historian. The visitors were not allowed to enter the room where the artist and the model were working, but could only see them from the door which was covered by gauze. Emese Süvecz (curator) made oral history interviews with the participants to reconstruct the event.

Document:

Emese Süvecz’s interview with the participants of “Nude/Model” (2007)


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