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585,000 m2

585,000m2
A Mixed Media Exhibition on the History of the Jewish Quarter of Budapest
WhiteBox | 329 Broome StreetNew York NY 10002, April 7–21, 2016

585,000 m2 examines the symbolic spaces and the inscriptions of history — from the pre-World War 2 period to the present — found in the Jewish Quarter of the 7th district in Budapest, through visual artstatements.The title is a reference to the surface area of the Quarter, a dense urban neighborhood overflowing with signifiers akin to the number the exhibition title suggests.

The curators invited nine young Hungarian artists to reflect upon select buildings aiming to research and relate the stories within and behind them. The artists were to use mainly visual media to mediate between past and present, history and art, artist and society, tackling the complexities that mark the urban spaces of the 7th district. The mixed media and conceptual installations in the show operate as visual manifestos to alert the audience to both the history-defying existence of the Quarter itself where Jews and non-Jews converge again, and the revival of cultural, religious, and social life rooted in the history of cohabitation before and after the Shoah.

The diversity of the Quarter is mirrored in the variegated techniques and approaches used by the participating artists. Using different scenarios and strategies, coming from diverse personal and artistic backgrounds, the key intersection of the contributors is the Quarter itself, the space that beyond being a geographical location operates as an irreducible excess. This excess contains potent survival and revival imagery of those marked for death, besides the unquantifiable violence unleashed on the area and its inhabitants during World War 2, as well as today’s co-existence of traditional and experimental cultural life. Through the past decade this Quarter has transformed itself enormously becoming the bright spot it is today. It has helped form, to a great degree, the identity and character of a new generation of young city dwellers that includes most artists in this exhibition, contributing their own particular vision and statements drawn from both cultural and personal memory.

Mixing archival and contemporary constructs alongside individual video installations, the exhibition invites the audience to step into the Quarter to experience and get acquainted with its bustling religious and cultural life, as well as with the artists’ transformative and up-to-date vision of this complex moment in time. The video installations focus on how the stories that can be told about them give rise to a complex, rich vision of the Quarter. At the same time, the artists also document the radical interventions to which this Quarter was subjected to by the perpetratorsof the Shoah, leaving an indelible mark on private and public spaces alike. Each installation provides a unique and idiosyncratic portrait of those spaces across time, while offering an intense interpretation of, and contribution to, the ongoing process of mastering history and reclaiming the present: the acceptance and adoption of the past by a new generation.

Participating artists
Zsuzsi Flohr, Zsófia Szemző, Márton Szirmai, Dániel Halász, István Illés, Levente Csordás in collaboration with Airplan X Kickass Factory, Balázs Varjú Tóth, Mátyás Csiszár, Milán Kopasz along with Csaba Kalotás (music) and Éva Szombat (photography).

Curated by
 
Andrea Ausztrics, scholar and media artist and Zita Mara Vadász, curator, Balassi Institute - Hungarian Cultural Center, New York

Presented by
Balassi Institute - Hungarian Cultural Center and WhiteBox
in association with
Tom Lantos Institute, the Consulate General of Hungary in New York, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, the Hungarian National Tourist Office in New York
with generous support from
NYSCA, the New York State Council on the Arts and DCA, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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