Evasion Techniques

October 4, 2019 > January 6, 2020

Subversive strategy and cocking a snook at authority
in the Hungarian Avant-garde in the 1960s and '70s

curated by Giuseppe Garrera, József Készman, Viktória Popovics and Sebastiano Triulzi

Exhibition promoted by
Roma Capitale – Assessorato alla Crescita culturale
Azienda Speciale Palaexpo
National Cultural Fund of Hungary
organized by
Azienda Speciale Palaexpo
Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary art of Budapest
Accademia d'Ungheria in Roma

image: Katalin Ladik, Poemim, 1978 | Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest 

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Evasion Techniques 4 October 2019__6 January 2020

This exhibition is devoted to "evasion techniques" designed to dodge surveillance, to lull censorship, to elude the authorities, to poke fun at them and to leave them dumbfounded. The exhibition considers the adventure of the Hungarian Avant-garde in the 1960s and '70s as a model of protest techniques and strategies, on account of the exemplary and astonishing results that it achieved.

Endre Tót, Judit Kele, Sándor Pinczehelyi, Bálint Szombathy, András Baranyay, Tibor Csiky, Katalin Ladik, László Lakner and Dóra Maurer are only a few of the Hungarian artists whose work the exhibition hosts, with over 90 photographs, collages, sculptures, street art, conceptual operations, performance art, mail art, visual poetry and artists' books bearing witness to a protest and an adventure with evasion techniques and ways of circumventing authority even sinply to testify to the difference in their thinking in a system "that wants us all to be equal and all to be equally happy".

Bálint Szombathy, Lenin In Budapest, 1972-2010  | Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
Judit Kele, I am a Work of Art, 1979-1984  | Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

These Hungarian artists proved capable of implementing a fully-fledged repertoire of clandestine actions and expedients that are not only an expression of freedom but also the expression of an awareness of the way in which all authority endeavours to mould people's consciences. Their repertoire included, for example, sending postcards and dispatches freely through the skies of Europe by post and under the very nose of surveillance and censorship (Tót Endre says that, luckily, under totalitarian regimes the postal system works perfectly); or using writing on walls or on snow, erased in a timely fashion or covered by inexorability, ot sabotage with propaganda posters or with actions in the home and in the back garden, or rallies in which idiocy and the dizziness of intelligence become a picklock for the system's mediocre wits, scuttling all chance of intervention.

Immagine singola

Through the activity of this small group of Hungarians, visitors will be able not only to explore a great and vibrant moment in the history of contemporary art but also to discover a visual manual showing how it is possible in any power system of whatever kind, even if only for a fleeting moment, both to express one's malaise and one's dissent, one's refusal to subscribe to the fairy tale of "happiness enforced on us", and to become aware of the tricks to which all forms of authority resort in order "to safeguard our well-being, which is their well-being".

The job of collecting, tracking down and rescuing documents, photographs and clandestine and ephemeral material performed by the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest has made it possible to reconstruct this exemplary story. That is also why the exhibition emblematically symbolises one of a museum's loftiest tasks: without the Ludwig Museum and the work of courageous private collectors, the entire story of this Avant-garde movement would have been lost or entrusted solely to the stuff of legend.

Produced in conjunction with the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest and Accademia d'Ungheria in Roma