György Galántai
HOW ART COULD BEGIN AS LIFE[1]
Supplement to the Boglár[2] story

Burial mound. Between Central Park and the Lower East Side.
All pleasingly familiar, on the hillside between the trees
the whole emigration comes into sight.
[3]

Introduction

If an unrealized dream of the previous century still interests anybody in the following century, it must be spoken of as something pertaining to the future.

If there are still people who remember the Balatonboglár story, which at the time was declared a cultural crime, then these memories are of a scandal that became a legend painted over with cultural political manipulation, in which even the real experience of art became a mere myth and interwoven fragments of events that actually happened or people heard about.

If the political documents that determine these memories are refunctioned by being used as a background to art documents, they will legitimize these works of art as well as the story. This will – presumably – mute the previously politicized memories and the “new memory” will be able to preserve this secret, overly suppressed, and therefore of course a barely known area of Hungarian art, as part of our cultural heritage.

If the most important objective is the destruction of myth and legend as the first step, then the second step by necessity is an evaluation of the entire period and an international comparison. This work could make as yet unrecognized values recognizable and integratable. These values will in the same way facilitate cultural self-construction, for example tourism, as could be seen in the “little Boglár model”.

If in the future the need for a personal, local, national etc. identity increases thanks to the effect of globalization, then interest will begin to grow in understanding these kinds of cultural opportunities, which from the very outset were ignored or forgotten. The Boglár “project” is not just interesting as the peculiar case of a peculiar society but also as the model of a cultural organization that can be generalized. Thanks to the right location and effective cooperation – through the experience of being part of the situation – the role of personal activity increases in value. Personal(ly created) products assume their meaning through a synthetic relationship with one another as well as with their immediate and wider environment. What is to be gained from this situation is that the resulting high standard local values can be evaluated on a global level.

Thanks to the activities of avant-garde artists in the ‘60s and ‘70s, numerous new trends of thought arose worldwide and thus in Hungarian art too: Abstract Expressionism, Calligraphic Painting (1959), Pop Art (1965), Happening, Fluxus, New Realism (1966), Minimal Art, Hard Edge (1968), Kinetic Art (1969), Alternative Theatre, New Music, Land Art (1970), experimental film, Correspondence Art, Conceptual Art (1971/1972), visual and concrete poetry (1973) and others. Following in the wake of the numerous “clandestine exhibitions” and events held in various occasional [sporadic?] and frequently banned venues, the first institution-like and alternative art scene came into being in Balatonboglár, in a cemetery chapel rented as a studio.

The following are the various genres, trends and a list compiled by me (as an experiment) of the artists linked to the art events held in Balatonboglár between 1970 and 1973:
Gesture art/gesture photography (József V. Molnár, László Haris, Sándor Csutoros, Sándor Kígyós); calligraphic painting/organic sculpture (István Demeter, Emil Parrag, István Ilyés); abstract organic painting (Miklós Halmy, István Haász, Endre Hortobágyi, Béla Koncz, Albert Kováts, Sándor Molnár, Géza Németh, Dezső Váli); assemblage (Attila Csáji, Ernő Fóth); surrealism (Iván Cerovszki, József Jakovits, Péter Prutkay, Róbert Swierkiewicz, Béla Szeift, György Szemadám); hyperrealism/photorealism (András Baranyay, Ádám Kéri, László Lakner, László Méhes, András Orvos); neoconstructivism (Júlia Vajda); minimalism/hard edge/concrete art (Imre Bak, Tibor Csiky, Sándor Csutoros, Péter Donáth, Gyula Gulyás, Tamás Hencze, István Nádler, Endre Tót, Péter Türk); structuralism and seriality (Ferenc Ficzek, Károly Halász, Károly Kismányoky, Ferenc Lantos, Sándor Pinczehelyi, Kálmán Szíjártó); conceptual art/ conceptual art (László Beke, Miklós Erdély, György Galántai, Tamás Szentjóby, Endre Tót, Péter Türk, etc.); project art (László Beke, György Galántai, Gyula Pauer); eat art (Péter Legéndy, Dóra Maurer); correspondance art (László Beke, György Galántai, Péter Legéndy, Dóra Maurer, Endre Tót); installation/site-specific environmental art (Gyula Gulyás, György Jovánovics, Tamás Szentjóby); environment (Sándor Csutoros–László Haris–József Molnár V.); land art (Pécs Műhely [Pécs Workshop]– Ferenc Ficzek, Károly Halász, Károly Kismányoky, Ferenc Lantos, Sándor Pinczehelyi, Kálmán Szíjártó); kinetic art (István Haraszty); arte povera – (Péter Donáth, Miklós Erdély, Tamás Szentjóby); individual mythology (Brúnó István Gellér, Tibor Hajas, János Major); experimental poetry/visual poetry/concrete poetry (Dóra Maurer, Gábor Tóth, etc.); sound poetry (Katalin Ladik, Gyula Pauer); body art (György Galántai, Gyula Gulyás, Tibor Hajas, János Major, Tamás Szentjóby); process art (György Galántai, Tibor Gáyor, György Jovánovics, Dóra Maurer, Gyula Pauer); happening/action/event/performance (László Algol, László Beke, Tibor Hajas, Gyula Pauer, Predrag Sˇidjanin, György Szemadám, Tamás Szentjóby, Eva Marta Ujhazy); alternative theatre (Brobo, Kassák Ház Stúdió [Kassák Theatre, later Squat Theatre in N.Y.], Kovács István Stúdió [István Kovács Studio]); experimental film (Árpád Ajtony, Gábor Bódy, Mihály Csákó–György Pór, Gábor Dobos, Péter Donáth, Miklós Erdély, Ágnes Háy, Katalin Ladik–Attila Csernik, László Najmányi, Márk Novák); experimental music (Péter Legéndy– László Vidovszky); institution art (György Galántai).

The chapel project

My first art environment idea, or in other words my institution-project, got under way in 1970 with the Chapel Exhibition and formed into a story between 1966 and 1978, from my negotiations with the Catholic Church to the (temporary) suspension of my being observed by the police. The defining dates of 1968 and 1973 – the beginning and the end of the leasehold on the chapel – coincidentally overlapped with the dates of the declared and later halted new economic mechanism. The “dialogue” carried out with culture politicians, albeit without success, lasted from 1971 to 1973.

[1] Source of the text: Hogyan tudott a művészet az életben elkezdődni? Adalékok a boglári történethez [How Art Could Begin As Life. Supplement to the Boglár story], in: Júlia Klaniczay – Edit Sasvári (eds.): Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Chapel Studio of György Galántai in Balatonboglár 1970–1973], Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003, pp. 43–90 (English translation by Krisztina Sarkady-Hart)
[2] Boglár is a commonly used abbreviation for Balatonboglár, well known to Hungarians. Boglár and Balatonboglár are used in the text interchangeably.
[3] Gergely Molnár, Dream Power, Galántai Exhibition in New York, 1973. In: AL [Artpool Letters] 5, summer 1983, pp. 2-5. (English translation by Adele Eisenstein)


[The chapel project]   [Reality and dreams]   [The trial year]   [The year of everyone]
[The year of the paradigm shift]   [The last kick-off year]   [The Finale]