The lunatics have taken over the asylum

Maja & Reuben Fowkes [spectre] mailing list
December 4, 2012 8:37:51 PM GMT+01:00

Maja and Reuben Fowkes are curators and art historians working from Budapest and London whose work focuses on the theory and aesthetics of East European art from the art production of the socialist era to contemporary artistic responses to the transformations brought by globalisation. Their work and publications are indexed at: They are members of the International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art (IKT) and the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). In 2010 their activities were recognised with a grant from the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory.

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

Hard to believe at first, but it seems to be true
that Hungary’s second most important art space,
the Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle, will find itself from
1st January 2013 under the ownership and control
of an ultra conservative arts organisation, the
Hungarian Artistic Academy or MMA, which has
stealthily been installed as the leading
authority for Hungarian art, with its preeminent
position written in to the new constitution or
Basic Law and bolstered by a huge grant from the
government. This coup de force has triggered
protest letters and petitions from both private
gallerists and the Hungarian branch of AICA, who
warn that the move will undo decades of progress
towards the integration of Hungarian contemporary
art within international circuits.

The political and aesthetic views of the
president of the MMA, whose name is Fekete and
often also dresses in black, are well symbolised
by the fact that he earlier criticised the
director of the Műcsarnok for his show Mi a
Magyar?/What is Hungarian? for ‘blaspheming’ the
Hungarian nation, which was ironic considering
that most art critics had rightly recognised the
exhibition as basically in line with the
government’s nationalist cultural agenda and that
Gábor Gulyás had himself been directly appointed
to the position by the government, overriding the
usual procedures and against the wishes of
progressives in the art world. Cue
‘fellow-traveller’ GG’s resignation, and the
penny finally drops that only mind-blowing
ultra-traditionalist tendencies are welcome in
the shrinking world of state-sponsored Hungarian

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