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

Self-financed exhibition by György Jovánovics and István Nádler

It was one year less than thirty years ago, on 15 March 1970, that György Jovánovics and István Nádler’s memorable exhibition was opened in Adolf Fényes Hall. Remembering the event, the art historian Ildikó Nagy wrote the following in an article: “When György Jovánovics organized his first exhibition in 1970, he showed an approximately ninety-centimeter high, table-like two-part work of plastic art, made of plaster and covered by a veil, which ‘represented’ the ground plan of the exhibition hall. This strange work of art shocked the audience as well as his fellow artists. It was very different from what the public expected of ‘sculpture.’ We can regard this work symbolically as the beginning of a new way of thinking about sculpture in Hungary.” According to Miklós Erdély, “This is the work that brought Hungarian art to a world standard.” (He probably meant that it had brought it back to a world standard lost since the Second World War.)

Interestingly enough, the phrase “the best work of my life” does not refer to the object displayed in the exhibition hall. Looking back from the perspective of his sixtieth birthday, when Jovánovics talked about the best work of his life, he was talking about the opening of the exhibition and not the exhibition itself. A rare occurrence in art history! Jovánovics is replaying the original voice recording of the opening of the exhibition (which the public had only heard once before, during a performance by Jovánovics on 2 January 1980, in the French Institute, then still in Szegfű Street, with the title The Opening of an Exhibition 10 Years Ago). Then he will talk, for the first time publicly, about how it was made. He’ll introduce the photos made at the opening, including a snapshot in which people surround a radio. We can find out why Miklós Erdély was standing there gaping, why János Major was chuckling into his hands, what made Jovánovics himself so self-satisfied, and what János Frank and István Nádler were smiling at so innocently. Why was Károly Tamkó Sirató applauding? We can find out what happened to the work that was meant to decay, and what his intentions were concerning the work. In the end, we can hear Jovánovics’s opus entitled “Iron Music,” a “piece for concrete-iron fabric.” (Photo documentation will present the “musical instrument” that can no longer be played, as it has been fixed in concrete.)