Director: Miklós Erhardt
Born in 1966. He lives and works in Budapest. Between 1998 and 2005 he combined his solo work with co-activity in the Big Hope artist group with the artists Dominic Hislop (Scotland) and Elske Rosenfeld (Germany).
Selected personal exhibitions:
2009 — Retrospektнv, Liget Galeria, Budapest
2008 — Temporary Settings, Wiener Secession, Vienna
2006 — With or Without Me, Galerija SKC, Belgrade
Selected group exhibitions:
2010 — Workers Leaving the Workplace — ms — Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, Lodz
2008 — Manifesta7 — “Principle Hope”, ex-Peterlini, Rovereto, Italy
1999 — After the Wall — Art and culture in post-Communist Europe — Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Courtesy of the Artist
In mid-80’s of the last century an uptown neighborhood in Budapest was given a poetic name of the Cuban capital city to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. Being built in the end of socialist era, this neighborhood became a symbol of Hungarian social and city planning policy and immediately gained notorious fame, as many similar projects did. The regime fall and the transition period of the 90’s that followed were special for “Havanna”. It turned into almost uncontrollable dwelling with predominantly poor people that led to its total criminalization. The situation started to change with the beginning of stabilization, economic growth and development of so called democratic processes. Efficient public authorities and social infrastructure were created and the level of criminality started to go down. Havanna began its way into a new reality of victorious capitalism.
The project wearing the same title by Miklós Erhardt was originally conceived to comprehend the local situation within one or another isolated system of living, brought into a new environment. Havanna, being a material reflection of all complex and controversial Hungarian events of the last 50 years, turned out to be the most suitable place where the author could apply his strategy of deep integration into a research context. The artist decided to rent one of the abandoned stores that used to be part of the service system in the neighborhood until their role collapsed under the quickly developing model of pipeline consumption offered by large supermarkets. He wanted to organize a communication zone in the shop and with its help inject himself into the social body of the neighborhood and define the limits of that research.
The project had an extreme avant-garde message that art could merge into life, give new impulse to social relations. The result was quite controver- sial, though the author managed to establish a connection with locals. The artist’s goal was to develop a new model of aesthetic research by oppos- ing direct merger with the context to existing strategies that being scientifically oriented in the end separate themselves from the research objects. While the majority of art works inspired by such objectives become entertaining events in the context of large-scale exhibition hits, Havanna offers something different. By its narration of direct artistic experience we are driven to reflect on our own nature without creating another artifact.
The quite humble visual documentation of the store space and its environment together with a monologue transforming the narrative of the research into a deeply intimate description of personal experience, gives this work a high level of sincerity. This way of cinematographic narration is close to a personal, sometimes voyeuristic observation where the author describes his emotional state. Some sort of artistic failure of the author shows wide range of possibilities for creating a conceptual field, outlined by certain questions about modern policies in social relations and the status of art that often plays the part of the politician, but still remains a remark to the situation. Erhardt creates a complete, extremely subjective comment whereby he shares a part of his life with the audience, by showing that a work of art can be a space of rented and renovated store, a place that he invested his work into and that still has some potential in future dimensions.