Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Budapest world premieres marine avant-garde sculpture garden 22 May

"Waiting" by Erik Binder

“Hungarian art…can crop up in unexpected places, deal with very specific and diverse issues and be directed at unsuspecting audiences.”
The Hidden Depths of Hungarian Art, Gergely László and Péter Rákosi, Modern Art Oxford, 2007

Imagine 25 conceptual sculptures or installations rising out of a 35,000 square-meter lake (half a meter deep) in the center of Budapest.

Imagine taking gondola-like tours, rowing around the various works by artists from 16 EU countries.

Imagine Habsburg ruler Maria Theresa´s reaction (if alive) to this one-of-a-kind contemporary art happening opening on 22 May (Sunday) and running through 4 September. (She built the pond and park.)

"Late Departure/Early Arrival" by Kicsiny Balázs

A 100 million (Hungarian Forints) splash

Sponsored by the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts, Art on Lake 2011 takes the museum out of its comfort zone of classical fine art, sans walls and halls into another plain air sphere, open and free.

Art on Lake commemorates Hungary´s six-month presidency of the EU, inviting some of Europe´s best avant-garde conceptual artists to take the plunge, constructing works designed for Budapest´s City Park Boating Lake.

Untitled by Magdelana Abakanowicz

Funded in part by the EU, Art on Lake 2011 cost about 100 million Hungarian Forints (1 Forint =s .00373124912 Euros or about .37 of one Euro today) and has consumed about four years of planning, said Péter Fitz, one of the project´s three curators, told me in a phone interview today. 

His was not a firm figure.
In Euros, we´re talking about 37 million, about €28 million if you flash back to exchange rates 12 months ago. (I had incorrectly originally reported the cost about "€100 million.")

Installation of works continues as I write.

Organizer Katalin Bodó can be often found in the lake (now dry) overseeing installation of works.

Fitz said a few of the works are lifted from other locations. They already exist but want a new home.

"Waiting for Birds" by Josef Bernhardt
Others, like Italian Mimmo Roselli create new distillations of his ropes and lines reaching into space.

Another category I call the dream concepts--great ideas but too weird and wonderful but mainly too expensive to create.

Like Gunther Uecker and his big ship idea. “He would never have been to realize this without being invited to Art on Lake,” said Fitz.

Reinventing the past
It isn´t the first time the Hapsburg-inspired lake took center stage.

During the millennium party 11 years ago, 26 contemporary Hungarian sculptors displayed works on the huge pond that doubles as a winter ice rink.

"Bonhomme" (a snowman of sorts) by Daniel Knorr

But this is the first time it´s gone international, said Fitz.

He joined Krisztina Jerger and Dr. Alexander Tolnay to curate the summer-long exhibition, nearly four years of work.

One pundit writing for Time Out Budapest May 2001 edition described a few of the works propounding environmental themes, appropriate for the polluted, green lake. 

Romanian concept artist Daniel Knorr will display a large snowman in the middle of summer to suggest climate change.

The one I want to see (and I will be there beginning 17 June to cover the arts underground and aboveground in Budapest) is by Polish artist Krzysztof Bednarski, a man with a sense of humor and purpose.
"Atlantis" by Tea Makipaa
He builds Karl Marx, sort of, a fountain made from portraits brightly colored plastic heads of Karl, “complete with water streaming like evolutionary thought out of the great man´s mouth,” reported Time Out.

The show is not built around any theme but the artists adapting works to the watery venue.

Harmonizing the works

“We don´t have one central theme,” Fitz added. “We tried to collect the most exciting artists and the most exciting pieces. We had to harmonize the works, seeing how they all looked together.”

He said sculptors visited Budapest as early as 2009 to plan their attack on projects or adaptations of existing works, Fitz said.

"Rounded Loop" by Zéno Kelemen

The open-air fair displays works by Belgian, Czech, Finnish, French, Dutch, Polish, German, Russian, Austrian, Romanian, Spanish and Hungarian artists “that no single museum in the world could put on,” Fitz confirmed.

Artists include: Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland); Heather Allen (UK but lives in Berlin); Krzysztof M. Bednarski (Poland); Josef Bernhardt (Austria); Erik Binder (Slovakia); Jirí David (Czech Republic); El-Hassan Rósa (Hungary); Kelemen Zénó (Hungary); Kicsiny Balázs (Hungary); Kristof Kintera (Czech Republic); Daniel Knorr (Romania, works in Berlin); Lauren Kolks (Netherlands); Brigitte Kowanz (Austria); Via Lewandowsky (Germany); Tea Makipaa (Finland, works in Germany); Ilona Németh (Slovakia); Pán Márta (Hungary—1923 – 2008); Jaume Plensa (Spain); Ann and Patrick Poirier (France); Gert Robijns (Belgium); Mimmo Roselli (Italy); Paul Segers (Netherlands); Susana Solano (Spain); Gunther Uecker (Germany); Willi Weiner (Germany).

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

"Miroma´s Majesty," photograph by Stefan van Drake (2008)

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