Imagining Conceptual Art
László Beke—the renowned Hungarian art historian and curator of several progressive art events of the 1970s—sent out a call to 28 artists, asking them to submit sheets that would fit into A4-size document folders following the concept “WORK = the DOCUMENTATION OF THE IMAGINATION/IDEA.” Beke arranged and preserved the sheets he received in folders and they could be viewed at his flat. Over the last ten years, due to the renewed interest in the collection, “Imagination” has been featured at several exhibitions both in Hungary and internationally and was also presented as a publication in itself. The English-language edition was initiated and edited by tranzit.hu and co-published by JRP Ringier.
The exhibition at Tranzitdisplay—organized by the tranzit network—looked at Beke’s collection in an international context through other projects that also took place in the year 1971 as well as through the history of conceptual art exhibitions. The other legendary 1971 art projects that were on display—similarly to the sheets of the Hungarian artists— can be interpreted as “exhibitions in a publication format.”
One of them is the book Aktuelle Kunst in Osteuropa presenting East European artists of the time and published at Dumont Aktuell by artist and collector Klaus Groh. The other exhibition projects highlighted are “At the Moment” (Zagreb) and “At Another Moment” (Belgrade) at which the curators Nena and Braco Dimitrijević experimented with the format of the exhibition in space and time. The two exhibitions showcased works by artists from Yugoslavia and by international representatives of conceptual art. The Belgrade exhibition also included a catalogue, which will also be on view.
Another aim of “Imagining Conceptual Art” was to survey László Beke’s international art network that unfolded beginning in the 1970s. The exhibition also gathered information about the internationality of the art world of the time centered around less object-oriented and increasingly dematerialized practices, which we now call, in a broad sense, conceptual art.
A possible map of the reception of conceptual art with a focus on geopolitical and cultural relations was also created for the exhibition. The timeline of the map starts from projects of the era, such as Beke’s collection or artist Dóra Maurer’s activity supporting the international presence of Hungarian artists, and runs until current projects that revisit the period of the 1960s and 1970s. This section looked primarily at the history of exhibitions, including artistic and curatorial research projects such as tranzit.hu’s “Parallel Chronologies: An Archive of East European Exhibitions.”
Works presented at the exhibition from the “Imagination” collection include those by Gábor Attalai, Imre Bak, Miklós Erdély, István Haraszty, György Jovánovics, Ilona Keserü Ilona, Dezső Korniss, László Lakner, János Major, Gyula Pauer, Géza Perneczky, Sándor Pinczehelyi and Péter Türk. The exhibition also featured reflections by contemporary artists Virág Bogyó, Judit Fischer and Szilárd Miklós, among others. The exhibition concept was developed by Dóra Hegyi, Zsuzsa László and Eszter Szakács in collaboration with László Beke. The Czech exhibition chronology was compiled by Pavlina Morganova, while the Slovak chronology was assembled by Daniel Grúň. The exhibition display was designed by by Zbyněk Baladrán and Ondřej Kozák.
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- Beöthy, Balázs