top of page

The website "awhaleofabadtime.com" is connected to a travelling-group exhibition and event-program called ‘A Whale of a Bad Time’, organized by a curatorial team formed by seven Hungarian artists, curators and theoreticians. The main theme of the project is our regional (East-Central European) perception of the era between the late 1980s and the early 2000s. The exhibitions deal with the private and collective memories of Generation Y, which, in the local context, also includes the first generation to be born free after the fall of the Soviet Union. The project contributors are in and around their thirties, which means that the aforementioned era overlaps with their childhood. The title of our program, A Whale of a Bad Time, also reflects a so-called flashbulb memory. The death of József Antall, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Hungary, was announced as breaking news on TV during a Duck Tales episode (titled A Whale of a Bad Time) in 1993. This was the ‘free born’ generation’s first encounter with politics. The art projects presented at our exhibitions deal with various motifs referring to events, cultural phenomena and aesthetics that may act as similar flashbulb memories to the vast majority of the Hungarian Generation Y.

When social scientist Roger Foster describes the adornoian relation to Proust, he highlights the connections between childhood and utopias: ‘Adorno often writes about childhood experience as a sort of refuge from the alienated, deadening forms of experience that prevail in the world of late modernity. Adorno developed this elevated sense of childhood, as a kind of placeholder for utopian social possibility [...]’ (Foster, 2018.)

This lies at the core of our program. Just like childhood promises are broken, hopes from the early 1990s for a democratic and sustainable future in a post-socialist country are also vanishing.

Therefore, the representation of the ‘liberated’ 1990s era childhood is an allegory for lost possibilities, but, paradoxically, also for possible futures.

 

When was the point that the once utopian ‘heydays of the happy Globalization’ crashed through emerging consumerism and an overgrowing obsession with technology? Can childhood memories, detached from history and ideology, provide a clear vision towards the future? We aim to refresh a certain collective mentality by sharing memories and experiences, by highlighting hopes and desires, but also by underlining the uncertainty inherited from failed utopias and promises. 

What is it that connects the generation of our region that was “born free”, on the level of their quotidian memories? How do the interpretation of the past and the vision of the future of two successive generations relate to each other? What kinds of real propositions can memory offer to the future, and how can we avoid sinking into aimless nostalgia?

The project endeavours to engage in the regional professional discourse, centring around the examination of the role of collective memory in post-socialist childhood.  With the exposition of novel viewpoints, the project offers a proposition for the examination of the experiences and memories of post-socialist existence within a broader context.

TEAM:

Sári GINK is a doctoral student at MOME and a photographer at OSZK. Her artistic research interest is based on reconstructional methods in multimedia arts with a focus on place and object attachment. Her personal brand called Rose & Berry is a heritage brand which deals with personal memory through collective memory that interacts with her professional practice from her solo shows to collaborative projects.

 

Dorottya KALOCSAI is a fine artist. She participated in the Artist-in-Residence program in Vienna (Museumsquartier, Q21, 2016). She was shortlisted for the Esterházy Art Award in 2019. She took part in group shows and solo exhibitions in Budapest, Vienna, London and Bratislava.

 

Karina MENDRECZKY is a fine artist. She won the Preis der Kunsthalle Wien in 2015. Her works are frequently shown in Vienna and Budapest. Her current solo show in Vienna explored personal memory and femininity in a generational context.

 

Katalin KORTMANN-JÁRAY is a fine artist and a doctoral student at the HUFA. She took part in group shows, Biennials, Triennials, Prizes-Awards in Several European countries. The main topic of her works is the influence of culture on human perception.

 

Boglárka KÖRÖSI is a PhD student at MOME and a lecturer at METU. The focus of her research is 1945-1989 era Hungarian design and architecture in the context of cultural heritage and national identity. She writes for various art publications and platforms.

 

Bálint ÁCS is a PhD student at ELTE. The focus of his research is the history and cultural policy background of Hungarian contemporary art museums. His critics, interviews and essays have been published in Hungarian cultural magazines.

 

Zsófia KÓKAI is a curator and member of the MŰTŐ artist-run space and collective. She currently works at Artpool Art Research Center and is a coordinator and co-curator of the Visegrad Fund project Alterum – Artist-run network in the CEE region.

bottom of page