Dózsa '72. Dózsa György vizuális reprezentációja a Kádárkorszak idusán

Tatai, Erzsébet (2014) Dózsa '72. Dózsa György vizuális reprezentációja a Kádárkorszak idusán. In: Revolt, Violence and Memory: Peasant Uprisings in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 2014. május 22-23., MTA BTK TTI.


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The presentation aims to show how political propaganda undermined artistic motivation in the era of “refrigerator socialism” by comparing two art events. In 1972, the Hungarian National Gallery organised a graphic, sculptural exhibition with the support of the Ministry of Education, while the Studio of Young Artists, a quasi-subsidiary of the Foundation for Fine Arts, organised an art contest – both on occasion of the alleged 500th anniversary of Hungarian revolutionary György Dózsa’s birth. Relatively speaking, a great deal of information is available on the Gallery’s exhibition: a proper catalogue was made of it, numerous critiques appeared on it, and the Arts and Crafts Advisory Council (as well as its successors) kept the jury’s records. On the other hand, we know almost nothing about the Studio’s contest. The pictorial source is far from being complete; aside from this, we have to rely on the artists’ memories for the most part. In the Studio of Young Artists’ Association’s archive, the record for their July 1972 general assembly merely mentions in passing that the contest had been successful. Aside from shedding light on the unfair chances “young” artists had against those who already “had it made”, this lack of documentation also shows what a frighteningly short time it takes until art history can no longer be reconstructed, even in a period unravaged by revolutions or war. It can also be seen as indicating that it was not advisable (or not worth it, according to the comrades) to publish the image of Dózsa the Studio had generated. The Hungarian Revolutionary Workers’-Peasants’ Government presented Dózsa as not merely the leader of an uprising of peasants, but as a forerunner of the revolution and the labor movement – as a symbolic figure of class strugle. The official texts on revolution and revolutionary resulted in a special kind of hidden meaning. Critiques were usually vague, and written with metaphors and symbolism that were understood “by everyone” except the person being criticised; in this case, however, quite the opposite was true: when the texts spoke of revolution and failed revolution, “everyone” was thinking of a revolution, other than the one intended. While the explicit aim of the official text was to emphasise how revolutionary the current state of society was – despite the text being part of a mind-wiping machine of lies in a party dictatorship that wasn’t revolutionary at all –, its readers were thinking of the failed revolution of 1956, or a much-desired revolution yet to come. But the revolutionary mantra nullifies political desires, motivation and thoughts. At the time, artists were forced to participate in thematic exhibitions, as there were few other opportunities to make themselves known. Those who wanted to work for an official Dózsa exhibition had to achieve something practically impossible: they had to talk about Dózsa and his uprising without saying anything – anything potentially interesting. The combination of revolutionary demagogy, the suppressed desire for revolution, lies and a peculiar knowledge of history could only result in a highly smudged image of history and Dózsa, and it’s quite difficult to create a work of art based on such an image.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History / történeti segédtudományok > CB History of civilization / művelődéstörténet
N Fine Arts / képzőművészet > NC Drawing Design Illustration / rajzművészet, formatervezés, illusztrálás
N Fine Arts / képzőművészet > ND Painting / festészet
Depositing User: dr. Erzsébet Tatai
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2015 14:03
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2015 14:03

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