Hybridity in the Carpathians

The Irokéz Collection and the Regime Change
11th September – 1st January 2012



After the fall of the “socialist” party-states the citizens of the former Soviet bloc faced a radically new historical situation. New political, economic, and cultural formations appeared on the foundations of the old systems: new parties, new stockbrokers, and new trends in fine art, which – either consciously, or through the registers of the optical unconscious – reflected on the transformations of social reality.

This new social reality was a space of peculiar hybrid phenomena that sprouted from the ruins of socialist infrastructure now enmeshed by local and international interest groups in a surprisingly quick way. In place of the former single, official culture a whole range of different cultures was born, which simultaneously attempted to satisfy local demands and global expectations. Nationalist tendencies also grew stronger, while the former ideology of internationalism was replaced by the cultural logic of global capitalism. While a whole crowd of cultural “workers” laboured on refashioning this cultural logic to the habits of Hungarian consumers, the Hungarian language itself transformed because of the influence of satellite TV stations, the Internet, and multinational companies.

The new words, the new symbolic language, and the new capitalist social reality resulted in exciting, hybrid cultural formations in fine art as well, which had to react simultaneously to the expanding universe of technical images and the loss of the set of unambiguous former cultural roles (official / alternative). This reaction resulted in the appearance of doubly (ideologically and medially) complex, “remix” pieces, which are represented in great numbers in one of the biggest and most complex private collections of the time, the Irokéz Collection, the name of which may equally evoke an economic sector and a North-American native Indian tribe. Hungarian cultural studies tended to follow the old dichotomies (East – West, socialism – capitalism, modern – postmodern), and therefore was relatively slow in reacting to this complexity. Art history also had the tendency to keep combining the good old concepts (of abstract – figurative, realist – conceptual), while the works themselves followed completely different principles. It is highly possible that these works follow much more the logic of post-colonial cultural theory, which presumes the constant mixing and mutual influence of different traditions and ideologies, than the traditional stylistic framework of representation and self-expression. Some aspects of popular culture, for example the viewing statistics of Latin-American and Hungarian soap operas, also suggest that the theory of cultural hybridity, which was developed on bases of South-American and Asian cultural phenomena, may be applied productively within the Carpathian region as well.

Besides the appearance of the theory of cultural hybridity, the 1980’s also brought about the emergence of a new technological dimension: the world of digital media, in which the formerly separated systems of words, images, and sounds got merged. At the same time in Europe media and cultural studies grew more and more influential. These theories aimed at connecting the dimensions of society, technology, and the psyche in order to create a new image of identity. The works of fine art from this period after the regime change are not only echoing these new, post-socialist images, but also give the visitor opportunity to confront theory and practice, lived and written culture. Through the three concepts of the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real, the main concept of the exhibition tries to serve this activity with such provocative (anthropological, psychoanalytic, and technological) perspectives that may help noticing divergence and differences in the seemingly similar.

Exhibiting artists:

Ádám Zoltán, Batykó Róbert, Bodó Sándor, Braun András, Csáki László, Előd Ágnes, Farkas Gábor, Farkas Zsófia, Ferenczi Róbert, Gerber Pál, Gerhes Gábor, Halász Péter, Horváth Tibor, Karácsonyi László, Kaszás Tamás, Kis Róka Csaba Komoróczky Tamás, Korodi János, Kovách Gergő, Loránt Anikó, Mátrai Erik, Nemes Csaba, Németh Hajnal, Péli Barna, Ravasz András, Roskó Gábor, Société Réaliste, SZAF, Szarka Péter, Szűcs Attila, Tarr Hajnalka, Tibor Zsolt, TNPU, Uglár Csaba, Varga Ferenc, Várnai Gyula

MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts
Baltazár Dezső tér 1,
Debrecen 4026, Hungary