Turning Points is a contemporary art project created together with foreign cultural institutes operating in Hungary. Twenty-six artists from sixteen countries from Great Britain to Israel, from Spain to Japan present their analysis of history and the last century, awakening in us new, personal and emotional ideas about the past that we lived through, or which we know from listening to older generations.
Location: Hungarian National Gallery (Budapest Szent György tér 2.)
Date: 14 November 2014 to 15 February 2015
The Turning Points exhibition is only loosely connected with the multitude of anniversaries that are currently being commemorated – the starts of World Wars I and II, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the eastward expansion of the European Union – but the organisers were more concerned with the overarching nature of the twentieth century, with the unifying motivation or character that lay behind the historical events, and this is what we would like to inspire visitors to the exhibition to reflect on.
The French philosopher Alain Badiou – among others – regards the twentieth century as the shortest century, given that significant events began in 1914 and ended in 1989. European conflicts, issues of nationality, and rivalry and colonial ambitions among the superpowers led to World War I, the “Great War”. Many analysts see World War II as the delayed continuation of the first, because many unsettled questions never went away, but only grew more entrenched. The sequence of conflicts that began at the start of the century and continued through the Cold War finally came to an end with the collapse of the socialist regimes and the strengthening of European Union integration.
The art reflecting on the events provides a broader, more general expression of meaning than any given jubilee. For artists, an anniversary is an inspiration, an occasion that prompts ideas, which can lead us to a new understanding of connections and thoughts. Turning Points weaves questions in between and around the anniversaries, such as the defining nature of war, the danger of current affairs today and their virtual continuity throughout the last hundred years, the rhetoric, symbolism and human image of totalitarian regimes, the contrast between the two main economic and political world orders, socialism and capitalism, and their role in the path taken by history, and the shock of the new economic system in the successor states of the disintegrating Soviet Union and in the former socialist nations of Eastern Europe. Some works also deal with the question of remembering: how these events are treated by posterity, how we relate them to our own personal and historical past, at a time when it is slowly becoming clear that the new millennium has not succeeded in helping humanity to transcend the heritage of the preceding century.
Curators: Zsolt Petrányi and Vitó Vojnits Purcsár
Exhibiting artists: Johanna Kandl, Andreas Fogarasi, Josef Dabernig (Austria), Kateřina Šedá (Czech Republic), John Timberlake (England), Kristina Norman (Estonia), Société Realiste (France), Clemens von Wedemeyer, Alexander Roob (Germany), Shy Abady (Israel), Paolo Ventura (Italy), Motoyuki Shitamichi (Japan), Artur Żmijewski (Poland), Iosif Kiraly (Romania), Mikyta Svatopluk (Slovakia), Laibach (Neue Slowenische Kunst), Democracia, Javier de Villota (Spain), Istvan Balogh (Switzerland), and the Hungarian artists: Zsolt Asztalos, Zsolt Bodoni, Péter Forgács, Attila Szűcs, János Sugár, Szabolcs Kisspál and Adrián Kupcsik.
The exhibition was made possible through cooperation between EUNIC, the European National Institutions for Culture and the Museum of Fine Arts – Hungarian National Gallery.
Partcipating organisations: Austrian Cultural Forum, Czech Centre, Estonian Institute in Hungary, French Institute, British Council, Goethe-Institut, Italian Cultural Institute
Israeli Cultural Institute, Japan Foundation, Budapest, Polish Institute, Romanian Cultural Institute, Slovak Institute, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, Embajada de España – Instituto Cervantes, Swiss Embassy