Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Katalin Cseh-Varga [Biography]
The Art of (Self-)Reflection: An Intellectual Journey across György Galántai’s Mind


When asked about his general attitude towards art-making, György Galántai, founder of the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio and the Artpool Art Research Center in Budapest, turns out to be a self-taught personality who had wandered in both the Hungarian and the international art world with an intellectual thirst to discover and to understand his mission as a poly-artist. Galántai’s notebooks and diaries from the early to mid-1970s reveal a person who was in continuous search for an intellectual forum for discussion (and encouragement!) and who reflected on what he had seen and read recently. The range of topics he touched upon in those very notes reached from semiotics, conceptual art, organic structures, Marxism and Leninism to communication theory. The (self-)reflexive researcher attitude is visible when one looks at Galántai’s exhibition drafts and book excerpts in the notebooks and diaries.

In the early years of his artistic career, Galántai was already looking for the purpose of art and artists keeping an eye on the “greater picture.” Conversations with Galántai had shown that he was always in search for the work of theorists and scientists who provided an explanation to him about human purposefulness pointing towards a Gesamtkunstwerk, similar to the Chapel Studio in Balatonboglár.

My paper aims to reach back to the very sources of the Artpool Art Research Center and the conception of the “active archive” through its intellectual history. At the vantage point of this history stands György Galántai and his reception and interpretation of comprehensive theoretical works. With my paper, I invite the audience on tour, with stops such as János Selye’s From Dream to Discovery, Vilém Flusser’s works on the philosophy of communication and of artistic production, and Arthur Koestler’s The Ghost in the Machine. What I would like to point out is the interconnection between these “networked” personalities, their highly complex world view and Galántai’s (self-)reflexive and thought-through concept of the archive.