Pathos Management, No. 2.

Conversation series about the past and the present of topoi in Hungarian art

Time: May 21, 2019, 6 pm to 8 pm
Venue: Vasas Szakszervezeti Szövetség Székháza [Vasas Federation of Metalworkers' Union], Magdolna u. 5-7., Budapest 1086

#2 Société Réaliste, 19?9, 2010, c-print, 100 x 100 cm, Institute of Contemporary Art, Dunaújváros

Pathos management is a non-existent concept created from the fusion of “pathos formula” and anger management. Thus, one of the sources of this ephemeral concept goes back to psychology and social psychology, and the other to art history, specifically to Aby Warburg’s work. Warburg, in one of his letters, described himself as a psycho-historian of culture, who examines how visual topoi expressing strong emotions, passions and sufferings, the ecstatic and the tragic migrated from one historical-cultural era to another. As a modernization and updating of the iconological method, pathos management looks at how Hungarian visual culture has dealt with Hungarian regime changes over the past hundred years, how it related to the ideas and feelings these changes brought up, and how it has re-interpreted its own topoi and pathos formulas. On the one hand, the series examines which topoi, symbols, and allegories of Hungarian art have become once again current, and what happened to these topoi over the course of independent Hungary’s first century.

The participating artists are invited to discuss one of their artworks selected for this occasion. The conversations series evokes a TV program of the 1980s in Hungarian state television, the so-called “Artwork of the Week,” as well as other similar art events that were organized by artists Little Warsaw and Miklós Erhardt in the early 2000s.

Concept and host: Sándor Hornyik, art historian

Société Réaliste (Ferenc Gróf and Jean-Baptiste Naudy), 19?9

The Hungarian-French duo, Société Réaliste (Ferenc Gróf and Jean-Baptiste Naudy) worked together between 2004 and 2015. In 19?9, Société Réaliste simultaneously evokes the significant Hungarian historical events of 1919, 1949, and 1989: when the political regime either turned authoritarian or shifted to a democratic one. For 19?9, the artist group reworked a woodcut representing György Dózsa, made in 1928 by Gyula Derkovits, the most prominent pre-war Hungarian communist painter. György Dózsa, a famous Hungarian peasant leader who was a brutally executed military commander of the peasant uprising in 1514, was also heroized in Hungarian communist cultural policy. At first sight, one can observe two main differences to the original print. The one is that Société Réaliste replaced the date of “1514” on the burning crown of tortured Dózsa with the date “19?9,” which evokes simultaneously the Bolshevik revolution of 1919, the communist political turn of 1949, and the Regime Change of 1989, the latter which formalized genuine parliamentary democracy in the constitution. The other is that one can read the inscription “Dirty Parallel” on Dózsa’s chest instead of the original “Dirty Peasant.” Furthermore, on a closer inspection, one more divergence is visible. Dózsa, the communist icon, the cultic image disintegrates into words: “behind” the black and red image, the phrases of the Hungarian communist constitution of 1949 appear together with the “new,” democratic one of 1989. With this gesture, Société Réaliste stresses that the new, 1989 constitution is rather similar to the old, 1949 constitution, which, however, was modelled after the soviet constitution. The artist duo thus accentuates the pragmatic dialectics of permanence and revolution with the deconstructive, critical act of the “strike through.” “Dirty Parallel” not only refers to the soviet model, but it also implies the critique of the democratic “revolution” of 1989: as many of the economic and political elite made it to the new world after 1989, the paragraphs of the 1949 construction did not vanish fully either.

Regime Changes

Over the course of 2019-2020, launches the events series entitled Regime Changes, which, in the form of lectures, exhibitions, research presentations, thematic magazine issues, examines what real and symbolic changes arise from political turning points in a given era. How do views and narratives live on underneath the surface so as to emerge in a re-interpreted form as the dominant discourse of another regime? Case studies commissioned or adapted for the series present the shifting, often politically appropriated and contradictory interpretations of political, social and cultural events of the past hundred years.

The upcoming events of Pathos Management:

# 3 June 11, 2019 Kitti Gosztola: A kinyerés mélységei (The depths of extraction), 2017, steel cast, 70 x 50 cm, Dunaferr-Art Dunaújváros Foundation

Pathos Management