Another Hungary, another Macedonia? Critical rural art and subaltern counterpublics

Undisciplined Forms of Knowledge | Curator in Residence: Katalin Erdödi | Museum of Contemporary Art Skopje | 13th December 2018, 6pm

“The rural is not new. The rural is not static. The rural is not disappearing. (…) The rural is a multitude and it is dynamic, it can be attached or detached from a geography, it can be a mind set, a certain practice or a shared identity. It is a common term without being precise. (…) We are passionate about questioning the cultural hegemony of the urban and advocate making space and time to understand the rural as a place of and for cultural production.” Kathrin Böhm/Wapke Feenstra, Myvillages

After spending one month in the frame of Press to Exit Project Space’s program Visiting Curatorial Initiative in Skopje, Katalin Erdödi gives a presentation of her on-going research into critical art practices in and about the rural and her interest in investigating social change in post-socialist rural spaces through artistic and curatorial strategies.

She will introduce examples of artistic and curatorial approaches that have inspired her research, as well as talk about her own curatorial work, in particular her collaboration with the artist Antje Schiffers (Myvillages) and three farmers in Hungary, titled “I like being a farmer and I would like to stay one” and realized in 2017-2018, in three villages/towns as well as Budapest, in partnership with the Ludwig Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art.

Erdödi will also give insight into her one-month research in Macedonia, recounting encounters with artists, cultural workers, researchers and activists on one hand, and farmers, vegetable/fruit traders, school teachers and local villagers on the other. How to think about critical engagement with the rural and rural art in Macedonia, based on projects (realized and unrealized) by artists and activists, as well as local histories and traditions, and how they are experienced today?

With the title “Another Hungary, another Macedonia? Critical rural art and subaltern counterpublics” Erdődi refers to the 2013 solo exhibition “Another Hungary” of renowned artist Imre Bukta, a self-proclaimed “agricultural artist” who has for decades dedicated his practice to engaging with and depicting his immediate rural environment, the village of Mezőszemere, addressing the (in)visibility of contemporary rural realities in artistic, as well as public discourse. Researchers of rural studies and human geography point out that this othering of the rural becomes a “double othering” when talking about “post-socialist rural space(s)” due to the additional distinction between Western and non-Western contexts.

In questioning the cultural (as well as political and socio-economic) hegemony of the urban, it is important to ask: what can critical rural art be, what can it hope to conceptualize and potentially achieve? Can it – among others – generate “subaltern counterpublics”, taking Nancy Fraser’s critique of the Habermasian notion of (liberal bourgeois) public sphere as a starting point?

The presentation will include the screening of a short film by the watermelon farmer János Sallai in collaboration with Antje Schiffers and Katalin Erdődi, and will be followed by a conversation with the audience.

Upon the invitation of press to exit project space, and within the framework of the "Visiting Curatorial Initiative" program, Katalin Erdődi (1980, Debrecen, Hungary) is visiting Macedonia from November 19 to December 17, 2018. She is a curator, researcher and cultural worker active in the fields of contemporary art and performance since 2004. Her practice focuses on cross-disciplinary collaboration, politically engaged artistic and curatorial strategies, experimental performative formats, and art in public space, understood in the broadest sense as social, architectural, and discursive space. She lives and works in Vienna.

Katalin Erdődi’s visit is part of the annual program of Project Space Press Exit entitled "Undisciplined Forms of Knowledge", supported by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia. This year's partners of the Press Exit are the Museum of Contemporary Art  - Skopje and Kontrapunkt, Skopje.