an exhibition of
Gábor Altorjay, Miklós Erdély, Tamás St.Auby
These three names are mentioned in the catalogue of the exhibition “happening & fluxus” (Koelnischer Kunstverein, 1970) as the authors of “Lunch (In Memoriam Bathu Khan)”, the first happening in Hungary. It took place on July 25, 1966 in the cellar of No 20/b Hegyalja út. Thus the name of the three Hungarian artists have irrevocably found a place in the international professional literature, and, as Fluxus and the happening are not easy to separate from each other, the authors of the Budapest happening at the same time became the Hungarian representatives of the international Fluxus movement. (Please note that Miklós Erdély did not participate in the event directly, he only gave suggestions as to the location and other ideas to his colleagues, but in his spirituality he was very close to them.) St.Auby organized happenings as well as Flux-concerts, Altorjay had a stronger attraction towards happenings, while Erdély tried not to give a label to his actions as far as the genre was concerned, however the “Fluxus-mentality” can clearly be traced in the activity of all three of them.
The happenings and Fluxus have common roots; their aim was to abolish the borders between art and life. The happenings as well as the events of Fluxus were occasions, but while the former tended more towards monumentality and sensuality, the latter were more intimate, minimalistic and intellectual. Both used and created objects but these were more props for the happenings while Fluxus treated them as independent works of art.
Artpool exhibits 4-4 objects, or works of art in the broader sense by each of the three authors from the period of 1965-70. In theory they have no copyright as Fluxus work, anyone can produce or reproduce them. Their status however is rather varied. We have produced the works of Miklós Erdély, who died in 1986, according to his instructions with the exception of “Solitaire for the Dead”. His “Newspaper Cake” was produced by Gábor Altorjay in 1967.
Gábor Altorjay's works raise other questions. His “Chess Preserve” was the prop of an action in Budapest in 1967, while his “Short Circuit Instrument” was published by the German publisher Vice Versand as a work of art reproduced in several copies. “Flesh Button” which was close to arte povera has a limited life-span because of its raw material. Only his work entitled “Uncomfortable” is a “traditional” object - a shoe with three drawing pins in its sole.
Tamás St.Auby's works are partly objects in which the materials themselves have a unique meaning and function (even in an alchemist sense), others such as “Czech Radio” (1969) or the “Landing on the Moon - Object” react to events of world history. The latter was part of an action he performed together with Miklós Erdély: while St.Auby exposed a roll of film at the moment of the window as a lens, Erdély filled a coffee mill with caraway seeds and dug it into the ground in his garden in Pasarét.
The only large size work at the exhibition is a borderline case between an object and an environment as far as genre is concerned. The first two versions of the “Portable Trench for Three” was destroyed (in Budapest and after the Biennale in Paris in 1971, respectively). The present version, as one of the most important remains of the 1960s, will hopefully remain long lasting.
László Beke, 1993