What the Past Holds for the Future: Prefigurative Politics in Art Organising

19 Feb 19
Eszter Szakács

CCA is delighted to welcome curator, editor and researcher Eszter Szakács for this special talk: What the Past Holds for the Future: Prefigurative Politics in Art Organising.

How can an art community radically improve its working (and institutional) environment? What methodologies are available when protests and symbolic actions against the deficiencies of the (institutional) establishment do not seem to have any transformative power? Is it possible to realise, to prefigure now, the desires for the future? This talk sets out to examine the methods of grassroots community initiatives in the cultural field, which are aimed not so much at involving the audience but rather a voluntary group of people who, impelled by self-reflection, organise themselves to act in the interest of culture or the public. These long-terms projects, in terms of sociology, may be described with the concept of prefigurative politics, when a desired future is set forth (prefigured) through its micro-scale realisation in the present. Prefigurative practices in the art and cultural field no longer strive for institutional reform, but aim to create a completely new system from scratch. Critically examining case studies of these “practical utopias,” the talk delineates three projects in Hungary: the tranzit.hu Action Days series, OFF-Biennale Budapest, and the …OPEN MUSEUM…project.

This event takes place on 19 February at 7pm. It is organised in association with Project Art Centre, Dublin.

Eszter Szakács is a curator, editor, researcher in Budapest. She works at tranzit.hu since 2011. At tranzit.hu, she is co-editor of the online international art magazine Mezosfera and curator of the collaborative research project Curatorial Dictionary. She was co-editor of the book MAGINATION/IDEA: The Beginning of Hungarian Conceptual Art—The László Beke Collection, 1971 (Budapest, Zurich: tranzit.hu, JRP|Ringier, 2014), and editor of PST (Public – Street – Tactical)—The Public Art Practice of János Sugár (Budapest: tranzit.hu, 2016). In 2018, she organized at tranzit.hu the Budapest presentation of Two Meetings and a Funeral by Naeem Mohaiemen. She is a curatorial team member of the civil initiative OFF-Biennale Budapest and a research group member of the …OPEN MUSEUM...project initiated by the Museum of Ethnography, Budapest (2014–2018). Her practice revolves around questions of internationalisms, methods of cultural resistance, relations between Eastern Europe and the Global South, as well as the exhibitionary form of research.