The Short Story of the Chapel Studio at Balatonboglár

[chapel projekt] [context 1966]

[antecedents] Young artist György Galántai hit upon the desolate churchyard chapel in the summer of 1966. With the help of local pastor JenÅ‘ Czövek and the confirmation of the diocese authority of Veszprém, Galántai contracted with the parish church of Balatonboglár in 1968, to lease the chapel for art purposes for 15 years. In the next two years, Galántai made the chapel suitable for functioning as a summer studio and an “alternative art institute” naming it the “Chapel Exhibitions”.

[1970] Between 28 June and 27 September, six exhibitions and eight performances, concerts and lectures were held. A catalogue and invitation cards were made by the “creative group of the Chapel Exhibitions”. Many articles and news appeared about the saving of the chapel and its turning into an exhibition space although not much was said about the exhibited works. In an article which criticized the performances, a journalist to Somogyi Néplap raised the issue of the authorization of the programs. The local council showed inclination to assist Galántai in the setting the churchyard in order. The “R-Exhibition” held in Budapest in December had a considerable effect on the next year’s program.

[1971] Between 1 June and 12 September, twelve exhibitions, several concerts, poetry recitals and theatrical performances were held. Flyers were printed to announce the Studio Exhibitions with quotes about the “living Hungarian avant-garde” on the overleaf. Due to the “R-Exhibition” the number of the participating artists increased and the events grew into a sort of “movement”. Some groups even published a catalogue. As early as spring, the county council started to take steps against the programs of the Chapel Exhibitions which turned into an open attack by July with an article published by Somogyi Néplap. The avant-garde artists and the representatives of cultural policy had a meeting in Budapest in autumn. The Department of the Fine and Applied Arts promised to judge the works to be exhibited next year when requested.

[1972] Between 11 June and 27 August eight exhibitions (three of them judged), a festival, a meeting and several theatrical performances were held. Placards, invitation cards, catalogues, and flyers were printed.
The main theme of the year was the “attempt at communication” with the authorities: undertaking judging, the authorization procedure, the impossibility of “conversation”. Finding that cooperation with the state organizations was impossible, Galántai finally decided to change the name “Chapel Exhibitions” into CHAPEL STUDIO thus declaring that he considered the chapel his private studio. From then on, the inner and outer battlelines became clear. This marks also the beginnings of the formation of the Hungarian concept art.

[1973] Between 10 June and 25 August there were eleven exhibitions (among them two international ones), screenings, theatrical and sound poetry performances, actions and performances. All Hungarian underground artists took part. The foldout invitation card displayed the summer programs in four languages and was mailed out to 2000 people. The participants, too, made propaganda materials. Galántai enclosed blank postal money orders with the invitation cards in order to find support for the realization of the planned programs.
The main theme of the year: total war - all the authorities and state organizations launched an attack against Galántai, the chapel, and its programs, finding fault where they could. A series of decrees and appeals culminated in the closing of the chapel and they went on long afterwards.

[the aftermath] Having been restored by the state, the chapel opened its doors as the state “Chapel Exhibitions” in 1974. The “Balatonboglár Group” were to hold their programs privately at the Young Artists” Club in Budapest.The authorities could keep better control over the artists there. The persecution of the artists who “threatened society and the youth” went on.

Six years later, in 1979, when Artpool was established, Galántai was invited to hold a lecture accompanied by a slide show about the Chapel Exhibitions at Kassák Klub in Budapest and at an art circle in Dunaújváros. The police banned both lectures. The events of Balatonboglár were first given publicity at the exhibition “Underground Art in Aczél-Age” at Kossuth Klub, Budapest after the change of regime in 1990. The liberation of the press is obvious from the bibliography.


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