László BEKE – interview (1998)

Meeting of Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian artists – exhibition, actions

In this period I tried to work in liminal fields. There had been a few things in Boglár already that I made in order to demonstrate that even though I was not an artist, a critic could produce art, too. I was and am also oddly attracted to Central Eastern Europe, and I had always been irritated by the fact that while Slovaks and Hungarians have seemed to hate one another for 150 years, whenever we take a closer look at things, we can cooperate in really productive ways. So I began to learn Slovak, because I wanted to do something personally to melt this tension. This is also significant, as I think that ten to fifteen Hungarians and perhaps even more Slovak artists still rely on this: that they could and can have such great ideas together. This event was also initiated because of this. I somehow happened to come across an English-language periodical with a special issue on Czechoslovakia. It featured a fascinating photo of the unified troops, which had just marched into Czechoslovakia, lining up to play a game of tug-of-war, immediately before or after occupying a village. Thus, I organized a tableau vivant to this effect in Balatonboglár. The whole thing was put together in a very naive manner, of course: instead of using a rope, Hungarian and Czechoslovakian artists, separated into two groups, played tug-of-war with the issue—this photo of the aforementioned periodical. The story is a bit forced, as I suddenly realized that this was not only a political allusion but also, in some way, the magical annihilation of a photograph, while also being a scenario of a picture within a picture. It was similar to composing a tableau vivant to reconstruct an event for a historical painting. I had a great time coming up with this idea and, all in all, it is good that we did this.

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003): 141.

On the website of Artpool Art Research Center