Art Colony 2014
Cered. To be honest I had to look it up on the map to see where it was. A small village on the Slovakian border, few kilometres from Salgótarján. I got on the bus, like a real tourist and set off into the unknown. At the bus station my host, Csaba Fürjesi was waiting for me. We got in the car, and drove on a peaceful, gentle sloping mountain road, until we finally reached our destination. A small village indeed. Quiet, neat, with only three streets, tops, and at the end, an inconspicuous border sign. The people passing by us, mostly elderly people greeted us politely, as it is customary, and knew immediately that you are a guest of the art colony, but to be sure they immediately put the question to me: “You have come to the colony, the art colony, haven’t you?”
For my goal was, in addition to accepting a cordial invitation, to gain insight into the work of an art colony which had been operating for twenty years..
Located in the middle of the village, under huge shady trees, on the banks of a small stream, the international artists are hosted on three spacious, adjacent plots of the Cered Art Colony. The heart of the Colony is the central building, Cili Kun’s kingdom. In 1996 she gave birth to the idea with her husband László Sánta, a visual artist, and with the young, agile, fellow visual artists Csaba Fürjesi and they dreamed up this idyllic community here. They had this idea, transformed it into reality, and have been operating the colony with heroic and often arduous work since then. In 1999 – What a great number! – it was already able to host artists from six countries. And since 2006 the artists are required to develop a specific theme. Cered itself has been in the focus. And the themes are inexhaustible, the themes speak for themselves: the linen, the wood, the parlour, the bear legend, unused objects, of course, everything is connected to the village and each of it lends itself to a variety of observations.
This year’s theme is the Missing generation. What a marvellous idea! The artists have to walk along the village streets and explore and get acquainted with the people, looking at them through a sociologist’s eyes. Who are they? How many are they? Who is missing and especially why? How Hungarians and Romas live together? And how do they live in the first place? What do they do? Once the artists have collected the necessary information, you need to translate the language of fine arts, and create works of art. What an exciting challenge!
Csaba Fürjesi, the art director of the plein air, has depicted the families of the village, immortalizing them on large surfaces, in their parlour (or tiszta szoba in Hungarian, which translates to clean room) in front of the roll painted wallpaper, still, in static immobility. The young people looking at us from the pictures belong to the missing generation. The Polish artist Katarzyna Karpowicz has lined up domestic faces in an icon-like way, and thereby gives them a sacred meaning. The German Ute Deutz has walked up and down the village, and recorded every house that was for sale. She has made an exact copy of the houses and made a maquette of them. The realization is heartbreaking. The work interprets the phenomenon lyrically, and the inherent Tension gives the artwork its monumentality.
Eszter Palik, one of the many Hungarian participants who I believe deserves special mention, Chose the abandoned and dilapidated chicken coop near the village as the place to host her artwork. The mystically illuminated egg embryos symbolize the miracle of creation, the incomprehensibility of birth, and the transience in us. The installation of the artist Suchoza Jozef (Slovakia), who returns to the art colony almost every year, is remarkable not only because of its size but also because of the complexity of the design. He lives in the studio of the art colony with its translucent figures. The floating or hanged (?) hooded mass, illuminated here and there with light, touches the audience at first with its theatricality. But once you get through that it raises other questions. Who are they? They are nameless figures. They exist and do not exist at the same time. We want to look at them, but they are faceless beings. They are empty, but by our movements they also start to move. Are they scary, or not? Are they beautiful? Maybe they are not even humans. Or are they? Are they here to take us away? I do not know. The absence is so thick you can almost touch it.
So this is Cered. A peaceful village in Nógrád with 1116 inhabitants, with an art colony, where in the past 19 years a serious „exploration work” has been taking place. I am pleased that I had the chance to gain insight into it.
This post is also available in: Hungarian