In the first decade of the twenty first century, the atmosphere of the ‘transit-state’ that surrounded the fall of the Iron Curtain was still palpable in many Eastern European countries. For this screening Hungarian curator, Anna Tüdős, has selected a series of works by women artists, examining their own subjectivity, lifestyle, and work, presenting unique perspectives on their environment. Works selected also engage in the ways which artists in the region have embraced and experimented with new media technology.
Hajnal Németh, Face to Face, 2000. SD Video, 3 min 37 sec
Ilona Németh, Morning, 2004, SD Video, 3 min 50 sec
Lene Markusen, Grad, 2004. 16mm transferred to HD video. 22 min
Dominika Trapp, Home Movies, 2004. SD Video, 14 min
Judit Kis, I love you, 2010, SD Video, 2 min 34 sec
Dominika Trapp, Jade Salon, 2010. SD Video, 3 min 34 sec
This month LUX Scotland presents a focus on artists’ moving image work from Eastern Europe. This series aims to trace the history and explore the concerns of women artists working in this context.
Anna Tüdős is a freelance curator from Budapest, Hungary. She completed the Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) MLitt course at the Glasgow School of Art in 2017 after her studies at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. Her practice often explores hidden histories or underrepresented issues through unconventional ways of mediating art. Her recent collaborations include ’BRUT’, a project tackling modernist architectural heritage and the interactive installation ’Roundabout’, challenging common ideas on playground structures. She works with C3 Foundation in Hungary, which preserves and archives an extensive archive of video works and media art produced from the beginning of the 1970’s until today.
Hajnal Németh was born in 1972 in Szőny, Hungary. Between 1995 and 2000, she was a student at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts’ Intermedia Department. She received scholarships to work in Rotterdam (2001) and in Berlin (2002). She had solo exhibitions in the Ludwig Museum (2003), Picasso Museum, Barcelona (2011), Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (2016) and The Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam (2017). In 2011, she represented Hungary at the 54th Venice Biennale with her installation CRASH – Passive Interview. She lives and works in Berlin.
The video Face to Face (2000) is based on a rather simple dramaturgy. The scene is the lavatory of an undefined public institution where female and “male” (or female disguised as male) characters appear, but cannot be seen together in the scenes. While the male is seen only during urination, the female character is more active, although her activities only represent her defenselessness and hopeless struggle, such as the scene in which the fruits (oranges, apples, strawberries) roll out from the basket, or when she tries to climb out to the lobby from behind the closed door of the toilet.
Ilona Németh is an artist, professor, organizer and curator based in Slovakia. Her artistic practice is a search for the balance between personal experience of growing up in the country marked by plenty of political turmoil and the universal history of the Eastern Bloc countries during the transition period from 1990 until now. She was professor, head of the Studio IN, leading International education program Open Studio at the Department of Intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava between 2014 – 2019. She exhibited widely both locally and internationally. Her solo project Eastern Sugar was recently presented at Kunsthalle Bratislava. Her solo shows were organized among others in Bratislava, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Helsinki, Rome. She represented Slovakia (together with J. Suruvka) at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. She co-curated the exhibition series Private Nationalism in 6 countries (2014 – 2015); Universal Hospitality 1., 2016, Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czeh Republic, 2017.
Ilona Németh’s video, Morning, has an easily describable, almost banal narrative; it shows a woman’s morning routine in a common environment. She has breakfast, reads the paper at home, leaves her house, goes shopping. All these activities are performed with a certain indifference which is in a sharp contrast with one peculiar element in the video, the constant presence of two body guards dressed in commandos’ garment with concealed faces. The ambiguity that appears in the work does not only stem from the juxtaposition of the everyday with the odd, but also from the inexplicable ubiquity of the guards since the reason for their constant presence remains unclear. There is no way the spectator is able to decide whether they are there to defend the woman from violence or to control her. Paradoxically, the guards symbolize violence, yet they are meant to defend people from physical attacks. The invisible source of violence gets even more menacing when we bear in mind that the woman is protected or controlled even at home, the site which is perhaps falsely considered to be the safest of all. Written by Katalin Timár.
Lene Markusen is a visual artist, scriptwriter, and film director, whose work reflects on cultural norms and patterns relating to gender, religion and historiography — both individually and socially — through sound installations, videos and films. From 1993 – 94 she studied in St. Petersburg (or former Leningrad), where both of her films GRAD (2004) and Sankt – Female Identities in the Post-Utopian (2017) are set. From 2011 – 2017, she was a lecturer at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg. Her films and video installations have been screened and exhibited at Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Photo Paris, Halle für Kunst Lüneburg, K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Stuk, Leuven, and Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, among others.
The film GRAD (2004) reflects female perspectives on the experiences of a community that has lost its motherland thirteen years after the implosion of the Soviet Union. Valya, the protagonist, goes on walks with her gang of girlfriends in post-communist St. Petersburg, annexing unknown, derelict, and ostensibly lost areas of the city. Staged as psychogeographic landscapes, the houses, streets, underground tunnels, and marginal neighborhoods are part of a tour guided by a hypnotic exkursavod figure. During a communal foray, the girlfriends encounter the doubles of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Adolf Hitler, and Chuck Norris, three emblematic figures of past ideologies and moral vacuums of the 20th century. Unimpressed by these tired ‘heroes,’ Valya lets the three men tell about their real lives, where the political and private are inextricably intertwined.
A birthday meal with her mother and her three adopted sisters ends in a fiasco when the youngest among them challenges their mother’s recollections of the gulag. Just as the male doppelgangers fall out of character, the compatriots successively lapse in their solidarity.
GRAD is a post-ideological film about three generations of millennial women in Russia. The encounter with the doppelgangers and the psychogeographic sets make the phantoms of indoctrination – whether those under socialism or cognitive capitalism – aesthetically and narratively tangible. From today’s perspective the film looks like a fictive historical document, it discloses the interim period between the collective amnesia of the 1990s and the nostalgia for the Soviet Union since the early 2000s.
Written by Ulrike Gerhardt
Dominika Trapp (1988) graduated as a painter at The Hungarian University of Arts, Budapest in 2012. In her recent research-based projects she deals with the relation of the individual to global/local trends and the artist’s competence within this context. In her curatorial work, she attempts to create dialogue for communities that are separated from each other because of cultural, political, geographical or other reasons.
Judit Kis is a an emerging artist based in Budapest and Berlin. She received her MA Intermedia Art degree in 2015 at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, where she also graduated from Fine Art Theory and Curating. She studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London and participated in short residencies and workshops internationally. In 2016 she had a solo show at TOPIC in Geneva and exhibited her works at the New Budapest Gallery through the TIMEBASE media art exhibition. In 2019 she won the Derkovits Scholarship and exhibited at the Kunsthalle Budapest. She has a variety of works inspired by her private life experiences as well as observations of public situations.
The video I love you (2010) by Judit Kis was recorded with a hidden camera in order to capture the immediate reaction of her friends after she confessed her love to them. The artist was curious about what they would say as feedback especially because they were all aware of her same-sex relationship that ended shortly before.