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Tamás KOMORÓCZKY, visual artist, 1963


What role did the regime change play in your professional career?

The transitional period influenced my career as an artist to a considerable degree, as, firstly,  that was the time I obtained my degree from  Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts  (1990),  secondly, we established the Újlak Art Group in 1989, of which I was an active member until its breakup in 1995.


What cornerstone events or publications in art / politics / public life / the professional sphere do you remember, and which of these influenced you, directly or indirectly?

For us, the greatest turning point was the establishment of our group, in other words, that we started to create art and intensively work together as a collective. This collaboration was motivated by a desire for independence and a gesture of distancing ourselves from anything official. The fact that this happened to coincide with the transformation of the political system brought a sense of euphoria. The sense of mischief associated with the illegal use of the Újlak Cinema also provided the group with a strong adhesive force. The uncertainty of the situation resulted in a constant sense of floating.

In addition to this, I also participated in the student government of the Academy, led by Zoltán Szegedy-Maszák, Gábor Bakos and others. We demanded radical changes in the way the school operated and the academic curriculum. We also advocated inviting lecturers from outside the Academy in the interest of freer, higher quality education.

In 1989, we organized the “Szelep” [Valve] series at the Bercsényi Club, which lasted for 12 weeks and featured individual evening-long exhibitions by twelve participants. The series, which took place on Wednesdays, from February ’89 until the end of April, proved to be an excellent platform for exchanging thoughts and ideas on a weekly basis.

In 1990, a massive procession, which started from the Russian (then Soviet) Embassy, passed along Andrássy Avenue (then called the Avenue of the People’s Republic), in the direction of Deák Square. I walked against the crowd with a painted black square in my hand, headed towards the Club of Young Artists (FMK), located near the embassy, to organize my solo exhibition, which was to open the following day.


Through what channels and from what sources have you received your knowledge about this period?

Direct experience was the strongest force, as well as what radiated from the people onto one another and what was exchanged during conversations in pubs. In addition, international press was probably an important source – how the developments taking place were commented on by others.


Has your picture of the regime change and its ideas been altered – if yes, in what way, and as a result of what – in the past 10 / 5 / 1 year(s)?

My illusions had already dissipated by the late ‘90s, giving way to a sense of disappointment. In the past 10 years, there has been no significant change in my opinion about the regime change. Of course the “unsuccessfulness” that characterizes the past 20 years makes us rethink and reevaluate many things. I do, however, regard our accession to the European Union as the most important step.

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