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Kassák Museum is a branch museum of Petőfi Literary Museum.
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A Tett honlap angol

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Exhibition

SIGNAL TO THE WORLD – WAR ∩ AVANT-GARDE ∩ KASSÁK

SIGNAL TO THE WORLD – WAR ∩ AVANT-GARDE ∩ KASSÁK

26 June - 8 November 2015, 10:00 - 17:00

Lajos Kassák’s first journal A Tett (The Action), launched in 1915, was primarily an artistic and political attack on the culture of war. With a left-wing, socially-committed outlook, it employed social criticism and the novel principles of journal publishing to stand up to prevailing wartime discourse of stigmatizing the enemy. The radical artistic and political standpoint represented by A Tett may not be immediately apparent to the modern reader. In the hundred years that have passed, the points of reference against which the journal appeared seditious, violating norms and even “threatening the interests of warfare” have faded away.

The exhibition outlines the Hungarian and international contexts in which A Tett operated, showing how the journal did indeed constitute a “signal to the world”, the Kassák slogan chosen as the exhibition title. The purpose is not, however, to put on a reverential centenary celebration of Kassák’s journal. To present A Tett merely as a bold stand against the war or, concentrating on the aesthetics of the art it published, as a museum of attempts by the early avant-garde to seek a way forward, would be too narrow an aim. Drawing on primary sources, the exhibition reconstructs the context against which A Tett was making a politically motivated and artistically valid response. This context comprised above all the popular press, the culture of war, and artistic and political hinterland of the journal and the anti-war international art that was the conceptual basis for Kassák’s response.

The anti-war stance of A Tett is particularly striking when compared with the wartime propaganda machine of the popular press. At the time of its launch, in November 1915, newspapers with circulation in the hundreds of thousands were strenuously propagating the culture of war. This was the textual landscape into which A Tett ventured. Kassák and his associates were therefore received as internal enemies on the same terms as the country’s wartime enemies. The artistic standpoint of A Tett was a target for the same mind-set that condemned the Futurist movement of “enemy” Italy.

Kassák’s journal stood up against the culture of war with an attitude that regarded art as a political statement, opening up opportunities for a radically different way of working for Hungarian artists. The exhibition presents the intellectual development of the first Hungarian avant-garde journal. Its influences ranged from the Galileo Circle to the Futurist and Expressionist exhibition in the 1913 National Salon and the turn-of-the-century and avant-garde art movements. These were radically reinterpreted in the birth of the first Hungarian avant-garde journal, A Tett. Kassák’s journal was more than the sum of its parts. The exhibition presents the process by which A Tett formulated its own recipe by digesting such influences as the war-party Futurists, the German Expressionists, the Abbaye de Créteil Colony and G. B. Shaw.

Infographics plays a key part in the exhibition as a means of visual analysis. The curators have not used it to avoid the job of interpretation, but they do wish to leave wide scope for visitors to make their own interpretations. Infographics set up complex connections without summarizing research in advance and packaging it into arbitrary narratives. This, however, is only a veneer of modesty: the exhibition has a definite ambition to convey subtleties and contradictions that confer a special quality to A Tett and its age.

Kassák Museum, 26 June – 8 November 2015
Opening: 25 June 2015, 7 pm. Speaker: Péter Konok, historian

The exhibition was curated by Gábor Dobó and Merse Pál Szeredi and designed by Klára Rudas. Scientific consultant: Eszter Balázs.

GALLERIES

PIM Kassák Museum is a branch museum of Petőfi Literary Museum. >>
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