About the Hungarian pavilion Hungary has taken part at the International Art Exhibition of Venice since its inception in 1895.
Before its own exhibition facility (pavilion) opened for the 8th Biennale (1909), Hungary had featured its artists at a venue provided by the organizers of the event. The practice has been maintained ever since, and several newly founded countries are to this day presented in some of Venice’s palaces.
The success of Hungarian art at the international exhibitions of Turin (1902) and Milan (1906) went a long way towards influencing decision-makers to establish the Hungarian pavilion. It was designed by Géza Maróti, an eminent Art Nouveau architect, and its ornamentation was contributed by two artists of the Gödöllő colony, Sándor Nagy and Aladár Körösfői Kriesch. Over its history of more than a century, the pavilion was renovated on a number of occasions, and continues to serve its original function. Since it was first organized, Hungary has been present continuously at the International Art Exhibition of Venice, with a few short hiatuses. Its greatest recognition to date has been the Golden Lion for the best national pavilion in 2007, awarded to Andreas Fogarasi’s video installation, Kultur und Freizeit (curator: Katalin Timár).
About the concept
grace – terror – (in) memory (of)
Each bomb has its own story. Which is essentially one of two kinds. Bombs may explode and thus fulfil their role as objects made specifically for the purpose of destruction, and then enter history books and the personal histories that families maintain.
Zsolt Asztalos in his turn looks into another possible story in the installation he has created for the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice: the story of the malfunctioning device which stays with us, generating, interpreting and symbolizing conflicts among humans. In what semantic fields can these destructive objects, these relics of wars waged and raging, these latent carriers of a constant threat, be interpreted, asks Asztalos. His “found objects” are multiple representations of conflict situations, open to simultaneous interpretations on personal, local, regional and global levels.
An unexploded bomb makes a statement. It thinks. Motionless. Mathematically. The process frozen by chance devours time. They are manifestations of a state of grace. The machine that was created to destroy man left its original function, and went on (may go on) to write the history of hu•manity on its own, creating personal myths and narratives which may make the inexplicable, if not interpretable, at least relatable. It is with its own disorders that technicized society creates an opportunity for mystery to work—while denying its very existence. Their fault or “unnatural” behaviour extends the temporal dimensions of the conflicts, even reveal them as timeless.
The theoretical approaches, as well as the research and installation praxes of the visual arts have been instrumental in processing the brutal traumas of the late 20th and 21th centuries. It shows that bloody genocides occur in the name and shadow of false slogans about humanism.
They were dropped but did not explode. What has become of them? How did they determine the future, our future? These are the questions that Asztalos’s installation makes us ponder on, rigorously, in all their ramifications.
Fired but unexploded – A video installation by Zsolt Asztalos
55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, 2013
Hungarian Pavilion, Giardini di Castello, Venice
1 June–24 November, 2013
Curator: Gabriella Uhl
National commissioner: Gábor Gulyás
Organization: István Puskás – Biennale Office, Műcsarnok, Budapest
Exhibition opening: 30 May, 2013, 10.30 am
Opening speech by: Zoltán Balog, Minister for National Resources
Featuring: Félix Lajkó, violin