» 2003 «
WORKS FROM THIS YEAR:
» "R. THINKING / DREAMING ABOUT OVERPOPULATION" - MOSZKVA SQUARE «
“R. thinking/dreaming about overpopulation”
Moszkva ter, public space in Budapest, 2003
Júlia Fabényi once wrote that my works were destructive, and that they attempted to bring about changes at any cost, even at the price of the new condition turning out to be worse than the previous one. The issue is important indeed: does not the destructive force, after all, belong to the creative process? The avant-garde tradition emphatically claims that a liberating rapture springs from destruction, seeing as it clears the way for something new to come; moreover, Khlebnikov or Mayakovsky once proclaimed that it was solely through the elimination of order that genius could be freed.*1 (These words had been uttered with such ease – before World War II. in Europe)
Anyway, this summer I left my sculpture at the square, exposing it to public anger, and anticipating an interactivity of aggression.
To my surprise, after a few days, the incessant inhabitants of the square – the unemployed from Budapest and Transylvania, standing there hoping to find some illegal work, the pariahs of society, the homeless, the alcoholic and the poor – started protecting the objects which had been placed out there. They guarded my fragile sculpture against any harm, occasionally utilising it in their begging. They nursed it, sometimes even dressed it up in clothes that they had gathered in their plastic bags. They put a plastic cup between its knees, or encircled its knees with a rosary. A drunken man lay down by its side, trying to engage it in conversation. By summer’s end, however, vandals appeared every night. One night, at 1 a.m., a vandal, together with the sculpture’s torn-off leg, was taken to the police station. His justification for his act of violence was that he did not like the artwork. Since I was not allowed to see the perpetrator, after a few minutes of consideration, I declared, with a certain sense of arrogant benevolence, that the artwork ruined by him had had no value. Actually, I believed, had I declared the actual museum value of the work to the police, I would have had to appear in court, suing a miserable, alcoholic, homeless person for the sum of around a hundred thousand Hungarian forints in damages.
A few weeks later, however, the identity of the perpetrator was disclosed to me by the police records from which I learnt that he was a 22-year-old, disgruntled young man from “Rózsadomb”, a nearby neighbourhood of Budapest’s nouveau riche. By this I do not wish to make any sociological assessments, this just happens to be the fact in this case.
One morning in late July, the sculpture simply vanished. Despite the offer of a reward, it has never turned up since; thus, the search effort continues and the artwork remains uncompleted. Anyone who has seen the sculpture may call my phone number in exchange for a HUF 120,000 reward.
Lastly, I would like to note that my Moscow Square project, in retrospect, was not about the conceptually conceived liberating destructive rapture and social aggression that I had expected. More than anything else, the encounter with the public turned out to be a heart-warming experience.
Róza El-Hassan, 26 December 2003
*1pl. Majakovszky: "Dekret No. 1 demokratizaciiiskusstv", 1918