The main goal of PICTURE Budapest – Østfold is not the creation of completed artworks. Instead it aims to create an ideal working environment for participating artists, in which they can think, discover new methods or old desires, thus laying the groundwork for future artistic cooperation. As the following texts suggest, the emphasis during the entire project was on the process itself, the changing and transforming of concepts. After the first week spent in Budapest we did mini-interviews with all the artists, recorded their impressions, experiences and thoughts about what would come next. We posed the same types of questions to everyone about their expectations and their experience of the first week, about the two-day theoretical symposium, and about their relationship to the group and their views on creation itself. We believe that these conversations are of interest if one takes the “finished” artworks into account, and even if one does not.
The project is an opportunity for me to test my outdoor and site-specific art ideas in practice, in a research-based, experimental setting. My open-air urban game, planned together with the Artus Company, fits nicely into the project framework. The first week I had a chance to learn about the theoretical background of the project, most of which I had been familiar with beforehand. Since these are areas I have been interested in for a long time, I was a bit disappointed with the symposium – but maybe I was just too impatient to get to work. I am still not sure whether the Norwegian and Hungarian artists will work together or by themselves. Now I feel that it would be better if we could share our ideas with those in the group who are open to dialogue, and it would also be good if we could decide on a basic artistic framework we can all accept. It would be ideal if after all the tests and experiments are done we could present the real results of our work. The artists have all kinds of ideas, but if we agree on a framework, we could focus our brainstorming in certain directions. I don’t know if we will need outside help, i.e. someone who could connect the different productions. If we structure the project ourselves, we could continue thinking together even after PICTURE project ends.
Naja Lee JENSEN
I was very open, I didn’t know exactly what would happen. I’ve never been to Budapest before, so I was curious to hear and see what is happening here. I was surprised by how big the difference was between Scandinavian and Hungarian reality. For example there is the affair with the Olympic Games: Hungarian people had to collect signatures to say no to the initiative of the government. About the first week of the PICTURE: as we have to create a final product at the end of April, I think I did not have enough free time to think about the creation process. After the two-day long symposium we have the backup material, a detailed background of the field, and we know each other quite well – now it would be great to have some time to think! So now it seems a bit scary that in two months we will have to present something. The lectures of the symposium were very inspiring, most of them dealing with art in public space. I was thinking about what other approaches are available to us, and I liked the complexity of the projects presented during the symposium. About working together as a group: yes, it would be nice to do something together, to emphasize cooperation, and to get inspiration from the others.
Liv Kristin HOLMBERG and Camilla WEXELS RISERS
LKH: The focus is on research. This week we had the chance to understand the place and look at it from very different perspectives. The background was interesting, it is a bit overwhelming to see how huge of a field it is. For me there was a bit too much focus on the social aspects, instead of different aesthetic strategies, and there was a moment when I had to pose the question: what if I was pushed into this specific direction? For me it’s important to clearly understand my own intentions. The focus on the „product” is also a question for me: as an artist I usually know the pressure to produce something, but here I am looking for a new type of work, in a more research-based process.
CWR: The different materials are very important for me, and making art in a public space is really connected to the chosen materials. The collection of the objects in the field need to be part of a conversation, and it takes some time. My expectation is to have to do that work, to share this as a research development. We all have very different experiences, so it is interesting to share this knowledge with each other, even with my partner in this project, Liv Kristin. I always work with contrasting energies, it’s a good form of dialogue. It would be nice to have everybody present all the time and not to split Hungarian and Norwegian artists into groups – I think this is the way to go deep into the dialogue. When you start a project, you need to know the framework in detail, you have to know the rules in order to break them later.
I came here with a very open mind, without preconceptions. I expected to experience something completely new, to meet new friends, to meet artists of different kinds. That was all I expected. Now an interesting week has passed. It’s a process we take part in, different people with different experiences – we coordinate ourselves, we navigate together to understand what the project is about. It takes time to understand this, to know each other, but we are in a good mood now. I’m open to cooperation with the other artists, even if there will be eight different projects at the end. We already cooperate, so I am sure we are going to have a dialogue, but I cannot predict right now how it will happen exactly. Artists have very special ways of working, different intentions, aesthetics. The symposium was relevant for me. There was an interesting paradox between our planned projects and those mentioned during the symposium: the latter ones are mostly durational, long term, in-depth research projects, and in many ways there is no direct connection with PICTURE Budapest – Østfold. There is a gap between the theoretical part and what we actually have to do here.
I had few real expectations before I came here. I thought that we would have more practical, or experimental workshops together. The intensive theoretical presentations were useful, real food for thought, but it was difficult to put it into context, especially as we didn’t have as many practical impressions at that point. Here’s an example: if we had had two days to explore a given urban space, to talk with local residents beforehand, the theoretical talks about urban planning would have been more informative. It was interesting to hear presentations about how decision makers think, what their point of view is like. And based on what we are surrounded by in Hungary it is difficult to imagine real, working relationships between artists and local government. If we were talking about working with a specific politician perhaps, it would seem possible, but in general it does seem very strange to us. It is very difficult to work here, because everything has to go through so many official channels that working in a guerrilla or quasi-guerrilla mode is usually the only way to go. I believe continuous dialogue between artists is very important so we can see how different people approach the same problem.
I came here with an open mind, ready to receive all kinds of impressions. I’m trying to understand the ’Budapest feeling’. This kind of simple, everyday life we face here in Csepel is really inspiring. As a tourist you just see selected spots of the city, but now we are in contact with local people and we are taken to places that are different. I was curious about this angle of the project. It’s nice to come and be able to take in all the inputs of the field yourself and let the experiences work in your mind. Sometimes I feel we got too much information. About the symposium: I like to work out my own theories, I don’t read that many theory books, but I do see and think about them. The basic way for me are my instincts, I always measure things to that. My impressions about Csepel are positive, it is a living place with some problematic issues, like many other places in the world. There is a struggle, but I can feel the energy of life here.
Ziggurat Project (Kristóf SZABÓ, Flóra SARLÓS, Máté CZAKÓ)
KSz: We thought we would come to understand something new during the week. And this may not have happened to the extent we wanted it to. But we did hear some new information during the symposium. We got a chance to better see how artists transform or redefine well-known public spaces.
FS: I feel we are still at the very beginning of it all. We got to know each other, learned about what interests everyone artistically, and we were informed and inspired by the theoretical symposium as well. I think it is important that we had a chance this week to visit the locations, to immerse ourselves in what we would like to work on later. The specific case studies were easier to understand because they were examples of what kinds of changes artists can bring about with their work. And it also became clear to me that when we leave our black boxes or white cubes, the places we usually work in, then we have to think carefully about the given context we will be creating in. Otherwise there would be no reason to work outdoors.
MCz: Our eyes were opened to how many different ways one can interpret a space, how many different approaches one can take when dealing with it, how one can extend an artistic action unto the local residents, the local geography or its history and past. I think we are lucky to be able to visit Csepel after the week in Norway, to be able to think about what we will be creating at the end of April.
I treat this project as an experiment. We will have visitors coming to experience our finished product, which we have to complete on time. We don’t have a lot of time to work, and the project will have Norwegian phases as well. There may be overlapping parts between the projects in Csepel and Norway, we may try things out we can use in Budapest as well. But since we are talking about site-specific projects, creating overlaps on purpose would be virtually impossible. I think of this project as a means of learning something new, even from the aspect of artistic-professional practice. A theoretical foundation is always very important for me, but is always supplemented by practice: theory becomes material, or experience itself. I found the symposium very useful, I understand why the organizers found it important. I was especially happy to hear Barbara Holub’s presentation: the projects she brought as examples were very interesting. It became clear how art and design can overlap, and how similar experiments can continue on in time – the latter won’t happen with our projects, but these lessons still confirmed my own assumptions. We did not have a lot of time or opportunity to digest what we saw and heard. We had thousands of new ideas, so it would be great to process it all, to see and visualize all this new information in its entirety. A totally different context awaits us in Norway, and even though I wanted to have time to distance myself a bit from the topic, it seems I won’t have time for that either.