Art Has No Alternative

(An Archive of Artists in Action)

Text Information/
Picture Gallery/

Opening: January 9, 2015, 6 pm
Opening hours: Wednesday - Saturday, 2.00 - 7.00

Beskydská 12

A selection of works by:
Akademia Ruchu | Paweł Althamer | Azorro | István Bálint | Cezary Bodzianowski | Ján Budaj & Temporary Society of Intense Experience (TSIE) | Bureau of Melodramatic Research | Nemanja Cvijanović | Călin Dan | Braco Dimitrijević | Tomáš Džadoň | Ágnes Eperjesi | Miklós Erhardt | János Fodor/Anikó Szövényi et al. | Fokus Grupa | György Galántai | Pál Gerber | Tomislav Gotovac | Teodor Graur | Group of Six Artists | Igor Grubić | Grupa KôD/Goran Trbuljak | Tibor Gyenis | Tibor Hajas | Tibor Horváth | IRWIN | Željko Jerman | Eva Jiřička | József R. Juhász | Andrea Kalinová | Šejla Kamerić | Jana Kapelová | Tamás Király | Milan Knížák | Július Koller | Július Koller/Peter Rónai | Jiří Kovanda | Karolina Kubik | Jaroslav Kyša | László Lakner | Łódź Kaliska | Marko Lulić | Vlado Martek | Miklós Mécs | Viktória Monhor
Ivan Moudov | Hajnal Németh | Lucia Nimcová | OHO/Naško Križnar | Miklos Onucsan | Andrzej Partum | Ewa Partum | Dan Perjovschi | Lia Perjovschi | PR Group (Virág Bogyó and Csilla Hódi) | Rafani | R. E. P. | Tomáš Ruller | Pavla Sceránková | Veronika Šramatyová | Mladen Stilinović | János Sugár | János Szirtes | Bálint Szombathy | Slaven Tolj | Milica Tomić | Endre Tót | András Wahorn | Martin Zet

Curated by Hajnalka Somogyi

with suggestions of works by Judit Angel, Petra Balíková, Lýdia Pribišová, Andrea Soós, Katalin Székely

Coordination of the project: Petra Balíková, Júlia Laki, Lýdia Pribišová, Andrea Soós

Special thanks to all the artists and:

Jonathan Csaba Almási, Aanant & Zoo Gallery, acb
Gallery, Artpool Art Research Center, Zdenka Badovinac, Roman Babjak, Ján Budaj Archive, Drdova Gallery, Lina Džuverović, Dávid Fehér, Filmoteka of the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, Foksal Gallery Foundation, Kveta Fulierová, Tomislav Gotovac Institute, Daniel Grúň, Dóra Halasi, Dóra Hegyi, Beáta Hock, Galerie Martin Janda, Mira Kerátová, Panka Kiss Kovács, Gabriela Kisová, Marie Knížáková, Ján Koniarek Gallery, Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and
ERSTE Foundation, Gizella Koppány, Emese Kürti, Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art Budapest, Moderna Galerija Ljubljana, Pavlína Morganová, Emese Mucsi, Gyula Muskovics, Zoran Pantelić, Galeria Plan B, Marko Pogačnik, Mirko Radojičić, Raster Gallery, Józef Robakowski, Adam Rzepicki, Darko Šimičić, Katalin Simon, Branka Stipančić, Galerie Michaela Stock, Marinko Sudac Collection, Miško Šuvaković, Andrzej Świetlik, Katalin Székely, Lenke Szilágyi, János Szoboszlai, Katalin Timár, Tibor Várnagy

The notion that artists are “idiots” is an oft-recurring observation among “normal”, “average” people. This has been the case for centuries, but some contemporary modes of artistic creation, such as painting with excrement, running around naked, or simply doing nothing special and calling it art, have only served to cement this most cherished social conviction. (In Athenian democracy, the word idiōtēs referred to a person who did not participate in the public life of the polis, who was self-centered and unconcerned by larger, common affairs – an attitude that the Greeks deeply condemned.)

At the same time, contemporary art is going further than ever in trying to be better than the best citizen, to serve those in need or within its reach. Artists today act as social workers, teachers, designers, or political activists in order to produce art that has a direct, inevitable, practical use for society.

Art is neither idiocy nor helping others. Doing away with this most unfruitful dichotomy, the project Art Has No Alternative aims to suggest that going against common sense, being useless, counterproductive, or incomprehensible within the frames of the current social and political consensus might just be the way for art to contribute to the sanity and well-being of its environment.

Its title taken from a stencil work by Vlado Martek from 1986, the exhibition presents artistic strategies that are played out in urban public space, and that are based on the artist's direct presence and simple actions, which might be absurd, illogical, immoral, disruptive, excessive, ridiculous, rebellious, embarrassing, heroic, poetic, risky or banal, but which no one would consider “normal”: instinctive or conscious subversions of certain norms, cases of overstepping boundaries, as well as demonstrations of the idea that possibilities beyond the consensually rational, safe and accepted should be sought out and tried. This art is not focused on the creation of objects, but rather it is meant to be a form of living one's life. It is the artist's civic competence and responsibility towards common issues that is demonstrated. However, there is no solution offered or imposed; what conclusion the startled, confused, amazed or embarrassed passer-by/beholder draws from the experience is entirely up to them.

The collection of works presented here spans a time frame from the late sixties until today and a geographical area that is known as East-Central Europe. The curatorial strategy has been to make a statement through accumulation: to gather these most innocuous, ephemeral artistic acts that happened over several decades in various urban environments, like quick, playful, angry or stubborn sparkles in the fog, and display them in image-clouds in order to accumulate and activate the immense energy they carry, in a simultaneous presentation. To gather a critical mass of artists in action, so to say. It displays photos and videos of these actions -- the methods of which range from slapstick and caricature to provocation and poetic agitation -- as an absurd tool-kit for public action: for exercises in freedom that are badly needed in the agoras of East-Central Europe.

Image: Jiří Kovanda, Untitled (xxx), 1976, photo by Pavel Tuč, © the artist and Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation.

Jiří Kovanda, Untitled (xxx), 1976, photo by Pavel Tuč, © the artist and Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation.