The Art Colony of Cered was founded 20 years ago, and followed a similar concept as many of its Hungarian predecessors: from Nagybánya to Szolnok, Szentendre to Gödöllő and to the modern art colonies. From today’s perspective leaving the city behind for Medvesalja appears nostalgic. Nonetheless, reasons such as the
beautiful surroundings, the secluded world of the small village, the coexistence of tradition and modernity are the
call for the participation of many foreign artists every year. And yet, when we look at the 20th anniversary of the art colony, we must realize that the secret of its success has more to do with the complexity and the characteristic concept.
The genius loci (spirit of theplace) is not dominant, and it is not even the aim of the art colony of Cered to have certain motifs as hallmarks appear in the artworks produced here, like it was in the case of other, classic art colonies. By this I do not mean that the typical characteristics of the Tarna valley with its shingle roofs or wooden belfry built in the 18th century do not appear in the art works. What I mean is one could speak in this case not only of picturesque designs. In Cered it is not the outer epidermis of objects, the landscape, or the people living there that the artists want to depict, but they actively – or in fact interactively – relate to their vantage point calling on the spirit of the place and at the same time further developing it. Here we can draw a parallel with the Vásárhely model, where in the fifties and the sixties the artists captured the traces and relics of inexorably dwindling, rural culture. There the need for modernization, the disappearance of the tradition and the confrontation of the two made the message so resounding, from which a new school, a new style was born. In contrast, in Cered the emphasis is put on continuous, dynamic action, and the creation of a dialogue with the local community through contemporary art. Thereby strengthening the social, sociological, economic and cultural role of contemporary art .
In general, we can say about art colonies that wherever such colonies were established strong ties were formed between the local community and the artists enjoying their hospitality. Likewise in Cered this decade-long cultural cooperation has achieved a very fruitful, lively and colourful results. Through fresh, novel perspectives and ever changing views the interaction between the modern and the archaic, the local and global new values are created year after year. This is obviously the result of a long maturation process. In 1996, when the first works of art emerged
from the colony, it was merely something created by a bunch of friends, where the unspoilt nature offered a gorgeous backdrop and setting for the working process. Until that point the story of its origin was pretty much like that of other art colonies. Around the turn of the millennium, the founders expanded their network to ever wider geographic areas, the programs they organized got stronger and stronger, and they clearly set the goal to create something that was up to global standards.
Already in its first year, the organizers of the art colony set out to invite Hungarian artists, but at the same time meet
international standards. In the following years it was not simply artist from different continents who came to Cered,
but they also represented various artistic directions, and they attended the art colony in the form of artist in residence, and thus expanding the international exchange opportunities. Establishing contacts with foreign
institutions, museums, galleries, art schools, and art groups was pursued deliberately to make the colony part of the international circuit.
The annual participation of alternating art historians who represent different perspectives has optimally ensured and maintained the spiritual correspondence and the documentation of the art works. After a few years the idea began to form that the art colony should be built around a particular project, so that the host community with its tradition and culture can serve as inspiration. A further aim of the founders was to let the arriving groups of artists shape the life, the present and the future of the community with their active presence. In this sense, we can consider the organized events, thematic festivals, theatre, music and film screenings not only as entertainment offered to the community, as the villagers themselves have often acted as models for the artworks or actively participated in the projects. The same attitude can be seen when an ever-expanding area of the colony – by acquiring more plots – or installations in the countryside or in the gardens managed visual qualities, and thus contribute in the shaping of the environment.
The creation of art works from the symbiosis of archaic culture and contemporary art testifies to the fruitfulness and justifies the existence of the art colony. If someone takes a closer look at the map marking the location of ephemeral installations for this year’s final event in the brochure he can see how they adorned the whole village being spewed across it, which shows that the Art Colony completely took over Cered.
In 2006, the project ACACIA TREE was already organized in this spirit. Next year, the LINEN project was inspired by the objects of the village culture. 2010 the BEN or CLEAN ROOM program was more conceptual and laying down the spiritual programme for the next five years. In 2011, the PROTOTYPE PROJECT art works were based on old photos and family pictures. A dwindling world was reflected by pictorial presentation, by video installation, photo
documentation, and by one short film about the bear cult. In the following year the artists resorted again to items typical to the village, which had to be reconsidered. In the OBJECT=POSITION project, it was mostly utensils and furniture that were turned into “noble“ works of art. In 2013 and 2014 a more abstract topic was chosen, namely GARDEN VISION where the village gardens were transformed into works of art, or in the following year the MISSING GENERATION where the theme of aging served as an inspiration for the artists. This year the people of Cered were in focus: The title of the project, the number 1215, symbolizes the population of Cered 20 years ago, at
the inception of the art colony.
Based on the results of two decades of cooperation between the citizens and the invited artists,
a spiritual unity and a special product emerged, which is unique not only in Hungary, but far beyond
the country’s borders.
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