»K« ENGRAVINGS - Exhibition of Tibor Szemző
7 April - 7 May 2017
Opening speech by András Forgách
The exhibition is on view between 7 April 2017 - 7 May 2017.
Tibor Szemző’s audio-visual installation >>K<< ENGRAVINGS focuses on the final phase of Franz Kafka’s life. The stories of the key locations and persons, through historical visual and audio elements, expose the lesser-known, lighter side of Kafka’s personality. The work takes an unorthodox approach based on several years’ research. Szemző is not, however, aiming at factual communication. Like his 2006 film A Guest of Life - Alexander Csoma de Körös, historical facts come to life in an associative, almost fable-like treatment.
The 8 mm films shown in the installation form an organic unit with the audio track, which consists of music and words. For this, Szemző used Kafka’s short story A Message from the Emperor, read out in the original German and in English, Hungarian, Czech, French, Spanish, Finnish, Russian, Armenian, Turkish, Arabian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Urdu, Bengali, Tibetan, Mongol, Japanese and Chinese, by native-speaking narrators. Like the locations in the films, the languages are all directly or distantly linked to Kafka and two other key players: his last love, the Silesian born Dora Diamant and his physician and friend, the Hungarian-born Róbert Klopstock. The narrators’ personal style of story-telling transmits meaning beyond text and speech, a theme of key importance in Szemző’s art. He treats the short story A Message from the Emperor as a Zen parable, put over through speaking voices and his characteristic musical ambience.
Tibor Szemző studied music at the Liszt Academy and media design at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design. In the 1980s, he was one of the founders of the 180 Group and was among the first Hungarian representatives of repetitive and minimalist music. He has also produced film music, above all for the director Péter Forgács. Their best-known work together is the film series Private Hungary. He released thirteen albums between 1987 and 2007 and has given many concerts at major venues and festivals in Hungary and throughout the world. His work has earned him many awards.
The installation in the Kassák Museum has a long history. The first version, an audio play, was produced in collaboration with writer and dramaturg András Forgách. It was premiered on Hungarian Radio in 2010. One year later, with the addition of film, it appeared as an installation in the At Home Gallery of Šamorín Synagogue. In 2013, developed into a stage production, it played with great success in MüPa in Budapest. Subsequently it was shown as a ‘movie concert’ in Košice, Cluj-Napoca, Wrocław and the USA. In 2014, in collaboration with MTVA, the project gave rise to a prize-winning short film.
Music and film: Tibor Szemző
Curator: Boglárka Kőrösi
Graphic design: Áron Kútvölgyi-Szabó
Consultant: András Forgách
Construction: Attila Batári, Ferenc Badak, István Balázs
Communication: Anna Juhász
Translation: Alan Campbell
Texts used in the installation are based on A Message from the Emperor (Eine kaiserliche Botschaft, 1917) by Franz Kafka.
Collaborating musicians: T. Bali, Zsombor Dudás, László Gőz, Mihály Huszár, Zoltán Mizsei, Bálint Pödör, Tibor Szemző and Fodderbasis String Septet
Narrators: Gaya Arutyunyan, Jahanara Bandyopadhyay, Josef Brukner, Karma Dorje, Wilhelm Droste, Luvsandash Erdensuvd, Thierry Fouilleul, Paul [Herschl] Glasser, Vered Glickman, Outi Hassi, Gergely Kispál, Ray Massey, Jose Osete, Rasha Qandeel, Aleem Siddiqui, Liz Szász, Tibor Szemző, Kaori Takano, Gün Togay, David Yengibarian, Zhang Yu
Sound engineers: Karel Liszkay, Alois Samson, Zoltán Regenye
8 mm film transfer: Márton Kurutz, Károly Kamerda
Software and programming: Binaura Budapest (Bence Samu, Ágoston Nagy)
Technical assistants: Ferenc Illyés, Ákos Nagy, Zsolt Jármai