exhibition of the three-channel film
Time: May 17 - May 31, 2018
Venue: Auditorium, Vasas Szakszervezeti Szövetség Székháza [Vasas Federation of Metalworkers' Union], Magdolna u. 5-7., Budapest 1086
- May 17, Thu, 6 pm to 9 pm
- May 18, Fri, 6 pm to 9 pm
- May 23, Wed, 6 pm to 9 pm
- May 25, Fri, 6 pm to 9 pm
- May 28, Mon, 5 pm to 9 pm
- May 30, Wed, 6 pm to 9 pm
- May 31, Thu 6 pm to 9 pm
Opening: May 17, 2018, 7 pm
Opening speech by film historian and cultural researcher Andrea Pócsik
Mezosfera special issue launch event
May 28, 2018, 6:30 pm
With the participation of special issue contributors Dominique Malaquais, scholar and writer, senior researcher at the Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAF/CNRS); Zoltán Ginelli, critical geographer and historian of science PhD Candidate, Doctoral School of Earth Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest; and editor of the issue Eszter Szakács, curator, tranzit.hu, Budapest.
tranzit.hu presents the three-channel film Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017) in Budapest.
The project’s presentation in Budapest builds on tranzit.hu’s earlier engagement with the idea of a "pan-peripheral network." With this visionary concept, Eastern Europe is proposed to be viewed not in relation to the West, as it was constructed in the bipolar geopolitics of the Cold War, but in its affinity to the “Third World,” as it was positioned in Socialist Internationalism.
Naeem Mohaiemen’s work involves writing, film- and installation-making. His three-channel film Two Meetings and a Funeral premiered at documenta 14 in Kassel and is presented for the first time in Eastern Europe at tranzit.hu in Budapest. Following the earlier films of Mohaiemen (The Young Man Was series) on the blind spots of the “global revolutionary left”–– in Bangladesh, Lebanon, Japan, and Germany––in the 1970s, Two Meetings and a Funeral looks at the eclipse and the contradictions of the Socialist engagement of the Third World, which had its peak in the 1960s-70s. In this new film, the focus is not the self-organized activities of the militant, outsider left, but rather the state level politics of the left in actual power, in “Socialist-aligned” Third World countries in the 1970s.
"The Third World was not a place, but a project,” according to the book The Darker Nations (2007) by Vijay Prashad. This was meant to be a utopian alliance where the Global South would reconfigure planetary leadership, ending Euro-American dominance. In Two Meetings and a Funeral, two different alliance come into conflict. First, the socialist, anti-imperialist Non-Aligned Movement, which was founded in 1961 as a “third way” that did not align itself with Western or Eastern Bloc powers (though in practice, there were often slippages). Secondly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which was established in 1969 as a religion-based, multi nation state alliance. The sharp distinction between these two platforms unfolds against the backdrop of Bangladesh's history, shortly after achieving independence in 1971. In particular, an ideological pivot comes into play when newly independent Bangladesh, fighting to legally establish its’ nation state status, first joined the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Algeria in 1973, and a year later, participated in the 1974 meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Pakistan. As a larger framework, the pivot from Socialism to Islamism is one of several elements that contributed to the collapse of the “Third World project.” Other factors included the tolerance of autocratic leaders within NAM, who spoke of liberation for the western colonies, but reproduced the logic of colonialism on post-liberation societies.
What comes after an incomplete liberation from colonial powers? What consequences does the failed Left of the 1960s-1970s have for the present and the future? These are some of the questions Two Meetings and a Funeral revolves around.
Naeem Mohaiemen’s Two Meetings and a Funeral (88 minutes, three channels, 2017) was commissioned by documenta 14 (Germany). Co-commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE) and Ford Foundation/Just Films (USA). Supported by Bengal Foundation (Bangladesh); Tensta Konstshall (Sweden); Arts Council (UK). Additional support by Tate Films/Tate Modern (UK) and Experimenter (India).
Naeem Mohaiemen combines films, installations, and essays to research defeated left utopias and incomplete decolonizations– framed by Third World Internationalism and World Socialism. The terrain is “a revolutionary past meaningful in the sudden eruption of a revolutionary present” (Kaelen Wilson-Goldie). In spite of underscoring a left tendency toward misrecognition of allies, a hope for an as-yet unborn international left, as the only future alternative to current polarities of race and religion, is a basis for the work. Project chapters have shown at Shilpakala Academy (Dhaka), Ashkal Alwan (Beirut), Al Hamra (Lahore), Kiran Nadar (Delhi), Bait Ghulom Ibrahim (Sharjah), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Tate Britain (London), Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City). His essays include “Islamic roots of Hip-Hop” (Sound Unbound, 2008), “Traitors, a Mutable Lexicon” (Supercommunity, 2015), “Anabasis of the Japanese Red Army” (e-flux Journal, 2015), and “Loneliness of the Long Distance Campaign” (Assuming Boycott, 2017).
The exhibition venue correlates Two Meetings and a Funeral with the Hungarian workers' movement, with the first local trade union that went through countless turnings points in its history. The Budapest Association of Iron- and Ore workers was formed in 1877, which was then expanded in 1903 to become a nation-wide federation of the Hungarian iron- and metalworkers (Vasas Federation of Metalworkers’ Union). In the interwar period, popular education and progressive culture also played an important role in the unions’ life. Moreover, beyond its advocacy function, the union can also be seen as one of the sites of resistance to the rise of fascist dictatorship in Hungary in the 1930s and early 1940s, through the course of which several members of the union lost their lives. After the Second World War, the union lost its autonomy, advocacy role, and grassroots character, and was incorporated into the rule of the Hungarian Communist Party. It was due to this subservient role that one of the most infamous Hungarian Stalinist-type show trials of then Minister of Foreign Affairs László Rajk took place in the large auditorium of the Metalworkers’ Union in 1949. Following the regime change of 1989, The Vasas Federation of Metalworkers' Union, adapted to the current era, still functions in their central building in Magdolna Street.
The central building of the Vasas Federation of Metalwokers' Union was built in 1928 with Art Nouveau and Modernist components, the nucleus of which is the large auditorium, decorated with stained glass windows of iron- and metalworkers. The venue of the exhibition thus also refers to one of the elements of Two Meetings and a Funeral: the film travels through the residues of transnational architecture in New York, Algiers, and Dhaka––symbolic buildings which have ideologically eroded, but are still in use.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a special issue of tranzit.hu’s online journal Mezosfera (mezosfera.org) will also be published, the focus of which is socialist solidarity; the analysis of its transnationality, complexity, and contradictions. The issue includes texts on Hungary’s cultural-diplomatic relations with Third World countries, the contemporary relevance of non-alignment, as well as cultural events that came to being around the idea of Pan-Africanism and Pan-Arabism in the 1960-70s. The Mezosfera special issue launch event takes place on May 28, 2018, 6:30 pm.
The Budapest presentation of Two Meetings and a Funeral is organized by Eszter Szakács, tranzit.hu.
Assistant: Judit Árva
Installation: Gábor Kerekes, László Hatházi
Video tech: András Szőnyi, Márk Radics
Sound tech: Roland Zsom, Norbert Varga, Martin, Horváth, Attila Koros (Mamut Sound)
Special thanks: Dóra Hegyi, Zoltán Kovács, Eszter Lázár, Edina Nagy, Andrea Pócsik
tranzit.hu Free School for Art Theory and Practice
Reading group around Two Meetings and a Funeral
Times and themes of the reading group
April 16, 2018, 5 pm to 6:30 pm: An idea of global history (reading Susan Buck-Morss into the films of Naeem Mohaiemen)
May 7, 2018, 5 pm to 6:30 pm: "The Third World was not a place. It was a project" (Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations, 2007)
May 14, 2018, 5 pm to 6:30 pm: Hungary and the Non-Aligned Movement. This occasion of the reading group is led by historian Gábor Búr, Head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest.
See further information about the reading group here.
Naeem Mohaiemen, Two Meetings and a Funeral, (still), 2017. Multi-channel digital video installation, color, multi-channel sound, 88 minutes. Hessisches Landesmuseum, Kassel, documenta 14. Photo by Michael Nast.