Art in Hungarian, or művészet magyarul

lecture-events and background exhibition in Artpool P60

Hommage à Charles Tamko Sirato

György Galántai Dimensionist evenings


Art in Hungarian, or művészet magyarul (m+m=N+1)

(a project featuring the motto of the Budapest Spring Festival: "Hungarian art, Hungarian artists") [video]

[lecture] The most banal call for projects can present a challenge, if I am able to find an interpretation of it as an impossible task. The task always starts out from otherness, or more accurately an improbable sameness needs to be spotted to make it into information (+1). The "improbable" is a term in informatics, where information is defined as an improbable situation: the more improbable, the more informative. This means that in order to get started, I need to look for the ‘exit’ in the festival’s local motto that takes me into the direction of the global, since it is my contention that it is only in a global context that any local product/outcome can gain its real meaning and at the same time its local value. The correct "answer" is always very simple, like for example Charles Sirato’s Dimensionist formula: N+1.

The title “művészet magyarul” i.e. art in Hungarian, can be understood through two Dimensionist approaches: Let us first regard the concept of art (művészet) and then that of Hungarian (magyar) as the past, or “N”, and in both cases the other concept will denote “+1”, i.e. the future. It concludes from this that art is only seen as Dimensionist by Hungarians if it is +magyar and “magyar” is only Dimensionist if it is +művészet. The result we expect to get – m+m, which is an adoption of the formula “N+1” to our situation – is the self-identical, living present.

When I was exploring the idea of the self-identical, living present, I remembered a definition of the present I had come up with in 2002 for an electronic scrolling display board, which, as an experiment, I placed in the context of 2007 by using an ensemble of objects: an EU flag drying on a clothes horse I had found represents a new, inductive future and is ‘engaged in dialogue’ with the red, white and green (see also: Dimensionist tricolour) symbolising the deductive past. In this improbable context, according to the definition of the present shown by the neon sign placed quarter a century into the future, the "living present" is twoness. In that present the essence of Dimensionism is twoness, or in other words parallel reality, which is the improbable alteration between the tendencies to the deductive past and the inductive future.

In order to better understand this construction, I decided to collect more information so, viewed from a heraldic perspective, I connected the Dimensionist triple definition of the present with the meanings of the Hungarian tricolour of 1848-49: red/power (deductive with respect to the past), white/loyalty (inductive with respect to the future) and green/hope (alive in the present). – Does it surprise you?! – Let’s take it further then. – According to the definition of the present seen on the neon sign: hope (present-twoness) is the improbable alternation between power (past-present) and loyalty (future present). – This realisation made me curious about how my method could be applied to the Hungarian national coat of arms: red and white (past and future) alternate on the right, while the green (present) of hope is at bottom left, surmised by the double cross [the symbol of Christian royal power] in the white (future) of loyalty set in the red (past) field of power. The green of hope on the left of the coat of arms is the Dimensionist "+1" in relation to the right side. And what is truly surprising is this: the structure of the Hungarian models the two hemispheres of the brain with "+1" (the green of hope) representing the area of rationality on the left. This is interesting also in the context of tradition: the right side of the coat of arms (N) symbolises the tradition of the House of Arpad and its left side (N+1) that of Dimensionism. Taken on the whole, the inter-referenced meanings of the basic components show that in its 21st-century interpretation the Hungarian coat of arms is the emblem of a national superseding itself.

Having established that the Hungarian language and way of thinking is dimensionist in its visual connections, I found another "+1" dimension that helps the understanding of the traditional friendship between Poles and Hungarians: Pawel Petasz’s work on identification is the test of the Dimensionist method: it is simple, clear, pure, unambiguous and fascinating. The solution: art (művészet) in Polish is Hungarian, and in Hungarian (magyarul) it is Polish. This is the Dimensionist "művészet magyarul", the Hungarianification of art, or the artification of Hungarian.

Dimensionist documents

The Hungarian ‘Avant-garde’ art of the time mainly took place in the private realm in the form of personal meetings in studios and flats, and publications were distributed by word of mouth. Planar poetry, as a genre of visual, concrete or experimental etc. poetry, reached its audience thanks to the regularly smuggled issues of the Magyar Műhely [Hungarian Atelier] in Paris, and Dimensionism was manifest in pop art, land art, conceptual art, kinetic art, etc. The official venues were either ‘taken over’ in a raid-like fashion for the various Avant-garde events or in unofficial places that could operate for a longer time thanks to the legal loopholes, such as in Pál Petrigalla’s flat in Budapest in the 60s and in György Galántai’s chapel studio in Balatonboglár in the 70s.

From 1971, the Balatonboglár venue exhibited visual, concrete, experimental etc. poetry that can be regarded as Dimensionist, with the first ones among these being works by Miklós Erdély, Tamás Szentjóby, etc, and then by the Bosch+Bosch Group, Bálint Szombathy, etc. The first Hungarian ‘experimental art’ exhibition, titled “Szövegek/Texts”, was also held here in 1973, organised and directed by Dóra Maurer and Gábor Tóth.

Photograph from the exhibition "Szövegek/Texts". Suspended from the ceiling in the middle is Gábor Tóth’s interactive letter-mobile made with the letters K and T, going beyond Planar poetry. He steps out of the 2D plane and is also kinetic, hence Dimensionist. Gábor Tóth told us that he turned to poetry under the inspiration of Charles Sirato’s Planar poems but this new work is a step further.

Hommage à Charles Tamko Sirato

The Dimensionist perception of time

Charles Sirato, the prophet of Dimensionism has not been with us for twenty-seven (27) years and the manuscript he wrote to be printed on the history of Dimensionism is still waiting for printers, in other words for a person close to the future.

It is thanks to the Dimensionist equation "art=life" that Sirato’s interlinear poems, or “line prisoners” as he called them, are so euphorically good. His volume At the Dawn of the Age of Aquarius could be published in 1969 thanks to the announcement of the new economic mechanism in 1968 and the relaxation of strict cultural policy. The introductory “Preamble” of the volume intends to take Hungarians to the vanguard of the age and argues thus: "Whoever was close to America came to own America and whoever is close to the future will own the future!"

I wrote this quotation on a slip of paper straight away and pinned it to the wall of my Budapest studio, where it has hung ever since. I was encouraged by this quotation in Balatonboglár in 1970, and then from 1971 by Charles Sirato’s "Words of Reassurance": "Don’t despair, whatever befalls you! There is one law alone: wait. Wait!" ... "Everything will ripen and reach its destination: and he who can wait will triumph." Yes! This is 100% reusable art, which could have been born out of a Dimensionist attitude.

“We will have a better understanding of this Dimensionist attitude after the Hungarian edition of the history of Dimensionism is published and we will also better understand the profound morality of Charles Sirato’s interlinear poems and the Dimensionist humourism of his children’s poetry,” - I am explaining to Gábor Tóth.

[the culture of keeping silent]

“All right, it’s all nice but in our accelerated time [...] everything is Dimensionist and the idea of the planar poem is a bygone concept,” he replies.

... I was also thinking that if a Dimensionist ‘Fluxus diagram’ is made about Hungarian art one day, Charles Sirato will have a prominent place in it ...

... but in the context of the accelerated "living present I would rather use the terms ‘inductive’ dimensionist attitude and 100% reusable ‘deductive’ art, ... which I see as our chance of survival in this close-to-the-future situation since accelerated time is no less than the Dimensionist perception of time: Moebius time and/or Fluxus time ...

see also - Galántai's diary | sound archive

visual works: flag | artist's money | stamp | postcard | installation