In association with The Balassi Institute- Hungarian Cultural Center
History of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest
A Mixed Media Exhibition
April 7-21, 2016
OPENING – Thursday, April 7 | 6-8pm
Zsuzsi Flóhr, Zsófia Szemző, Márton Szirmai, Dániel Halász, István Illés, Levente Csordás in collaboration with Miklós Mendrei and Benjamin Kalászi, Balázs Varjú Tóth, Mátyás Csiszár along with Csaba Kalotás (music) and Éva Szombat (photo).
585,000 m2 examines the symbolic spaces and the inscriptions of history -from the pre-World War 2 period to the present-found in the Jewish Quarter in the 7th district of Budapest, through visual art statements. The title is a reference to the massive surface area of the Quarter, a dense urban neighborhood overflowing with signifiers.
The curators invited nine young Hungarian artists to reflect upon particular buildings and discover the stories behind them, in their own artistic tone, using mostly visual media to mediate between past and present, history and art, artist and society. The conceptual installations and mixed media works operate as visual manifestos to alert the audience to both the history-defying existence of the Quarter itself, where Jews and non-Jews now once more converge, and the revival of cultural, religious, and social life rooted in the history of cohabitation before and after the Shoah.
The diversity of the Quarter is mirrored by the variegated techniques of the participating artists. Coming from different fields of contemporary arts, the most important intersection of the contributors is the Quarter itself, the space that beyond a geographical location operates as an irreducible excess. This excess contains the survival and revival of those marked for death but also the unquantifiable violence unleashed on the area and its inhabitants during World War 2, as well as, more recently, of the co-existence of traditional and experimental cultural life. Through the past decade the Quarter transformed itself and became the place that it is today, forming the identity of another generation of young Hungarians, among them the artists who now propose their statements, drawing on both cultural and personal memory.
Mixing archival and present-day frames with individual video installations, the exhibition invites the audience to step into the Quarter, to experience its bustling religious and cultural life and the artists’ transformative vision of this life. The video installations focus on individual buildings, their functions today, and on how the stories that can be told about them give rise to a vision of the Quarter. They also document, without looking away, the radical interventions to which it was subjected by the perpetrators of the Shoah, leaving an indelible mark on private and public spaces alike. Each installation provides a unique and idiosyncratic portrait of the spaces, showing the effects of time and how the present faces, accepts, and adopts the past.
Andrea Ausztrics, Historian and Media Artist
Zita Mara Vadász, Curator, Balassi Institute – Hungarian Cultural Center, New York
Presented by Balassi Institute – Hungarian Cultural Center and WhiteBox, in association with Tom Lantos Institute, the Consulate General of Hungary in New York, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, the Hungarian National Tourist Office in New York.
The programs of WhiteBox are made possible in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council for the Arts