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Asylum from Steel Sheets and Porn

20 • 05 • 19Ágnes Telek-Nay

MyMuseum is a youthful and current gallery in every which way: it is run by young people and the artists and media they represent are also remarkably fresh. Even more refreshing is the ease with which they approach rather serious and timely social and political issues with an air of humour and intelligence. This is the merit of curator Tünde Török (co-owner of the gallery) as well as the exhibiting artists, who are usually selected from the pool of artists represented by the gallery, but from time to time, the gallery also features artists loosely orbiting its spheres.

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The Asylum, interior. Photo: Veronika Szendrő, with the consent of MyMuseum Gallery.

Evoking one of the most pressing questions of present-day politics with its bare title, The Asylum conforms to a succession of utterly consistent exhibitions in terms of use of media as well as social sensitivity. However, the notion of ‘asylum’ is not exclusively and specifically what the exhibition as a whole entity reflects on, even though the pieces setting up the boundaries in the foyer are quite close to this problem: the blank propaganda poster by Szarvas raises awareness of the extent to which these messages have been imprinted on us, while it actually depends on us what kind of contents we fill in the blanks with.

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The Asylum, interior. Photo: György Cséka

The ‘landscapes’ made of steel by Áron Zsolt Majoros are bursting with tension between form and content, as the theme of rolling hills is normally not associated with the material he used, at best in the case of land art or public statues, but by no means with respect to framed pictures hanging on walls. Serenely waving grass and the outline of rolling hills are represented by the sawtooth texture of cold steel sheets. The tension between visual content and technique/material paves the way for the spectator towards the inner spaces of the exhibition.

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The Asylum, interior. Photo: György Cséka

The floor plan plotted on the gallery floor is also meant to lead us into the private sphere: after the border, the landscape and the broader environment, we arrive in the living/dining room of an imaginary apartment, where we are welcomed by a table set with champagne, full of elegance and appearances. This is reflected by the ‘pictures’ on the wall: a figure from the previous century posing in front of current disasters in elegant, frilly-flouncy dress and posture, with aristocratic arrogance, conceit and indifference on her face. We can’t decide whether she fails to notice the things going on behind her back or simply refuses to acknowledge them. And which is more deplorable? This work also operates with multiple visual twists, as the images are in fact videos projected by the beamers on the table into baroque-looking frames. In one of the scenes a ship is sinking in the background, which may be a reference to the legendary tragedy of Titanic, the greatest ocean liner, but is also evocative of today’s refugee crisis, especially as one member of the artist duo, Eirini Sourgiadaki is of Greek descent, while the other member, Anna Rubi works at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) for the freedom of others.

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The Asylum, interior. Photo: György Cséka

In this space our discomfort is close enough to what we feel on our way home when it is lined with homeless people. We make every effort to only notice our micro-environment, as, ah, we have enough problems as it is, we can’t help by grieving over the troubles of the wide world, and we’re already home anyway, all is quiet, solely ours and free of problems. Or is it? Arriving home, we can usually leave behind the racket and problems of the outside world (the more sensitive ones can’t even leave that behind), but it creeps on us through the media, or awaits us at home through the problems of our own, our children, partner, pet, etc. The only supposedly safe asylum from the ‘racket of the world’ could be found in an ultimate intimacy, which many can’t or don’t want to share with each other: even an intimate connection/interaction is often spent in solitude.

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The Asylum, interior. Photo: György Cséka

In Vera A Fehér’s landscapes – in the bedroom according to the floor plan – feature familiar silhouettes of uncertain origin roll and undulate. The sawtooth-like landscapes of the foyer are smoothed out into delicate, elongated black and white lines. Sine waves of hills and valleys, mounds, in fact, pubic mounds, for the title reveals the origin: these images are not plein-air landscapes but scenes from porn movies. By seemingly bleaching the genre’s visual imprints, the artist abstracts the pornographic images, but in fact all she wants is to liberate us from our prudish and conservative prejudices and show us that it is worth to liberate our perception and that we would be able to see beauty in so many more things if only we were a little more open-minded. It is at this point that the total sense of discomfort goes full throttle and gets under our skin. Politics and public life keep hunting our attention, while we try to block it out, only to become immune to what we shouldn’t reject and what we really have responsibility for. This tension that urges us to make a decision, to make selections and to find balance, this plethora of stimuli we receive, what we should pay attention to and what we shouldn’t, all of this accompanies us on our way home from MyMuseum and gets inside our head, if we let it. And how long it stays there or whether we do something about it – that’s up to us. (Translation: Dániel Sipos)

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The Asylum, interior. Photo: Veronika Szendrő, with the consent of MyMuseum Gallery.

Jegyzetek

The Asylum

Vera A Fehér, Áron Majoros, Anna Rubi, Sourgiadaki Eirini, Szarvas

MyMuseum Gallery

6th April- 26th May, 2019