False Testimony

Hajnal Németh and Zoltán Kékesi
2013, November 14 - 2013, December 15

The subject of the “False Testimony” exhibition is the Tiszaeszlár Trial of 1883. Following the disappearance of a 14-year-old girl Eszter Solymosi on April 1, 1882, in the Hungarian village of Tiszaeszlár, local rumors and suspicions of Jewish ritual murder led to a high-profile murder case in the summer of 1883. Relying heavily on forensic medicine, the prosecution’s case was not proved against the 14 male Jewish defendants, who were proclaimed not guilty on August 3. The trial was closely interwoven with the birth of modern antisemitism in Hungary: shortly after the verdict and a spate of antisemitic riots around the country, Hungary’s first National Antisemitic Party (1883-1892) was formed. “Tiszaeszlár” later became an important element in the radical Right’s historical narrative and subsequent constructions of national martyrology.

The series of photographs entitled “Loud Place” documents the contemporary right-wing cult of Eszter Solymosi and the grave erected in her honor in 1994. “Silent Place 1” shows the former courtroom in its empty state, while “Silent Place 2” shows the Jewish cemetery in Tiszaeszlár which, today, is unmarked, and enclosed by a concrete wall.

The central pieces of the exhibition, “False Testimony (one version of the Version)” and “False Testimony (version 3)”, use the transcript of Miklós Erdély’s classic 1981 film “Verzió” to rework one of the key scenes of the trial. In these videos, a choir and the soloists perform two different versions of the scene in which the prosecution’s witness, 14-year-old Móric Scharf, is trained to confess, which confession he later repeats over and over. Hajnal Németh, “by reenacting the story, she directs attention to the present. She realizes a version whose framework is no longer late 19th century Hungary, but a present-day workplace, an office where everyone is working as if nothing happened ." (Szabolcs KissPál)

The photographs, videos and objects in the exhibition examine individual and collective memory and identity, the processes of psychological and cultural acquisition, and the learning of antisemitic witness and national martyrology.

The opening: at  7 pm  on  November 14 , 2013, with a live choral performance of False Testimony (version 3) by Soharóza.
Choirmaster: Dóra Halas
Soloists: Tamás Bernáth Atom, András Meszerics, Dániel Jankó

In conjunction with the exhibitions, the following screening, Hungarian-language presentations and discussions will be held:
November 21, 8 pm : screening of Miklós Erdélyi's 1979 film Verzó (BBS)

November 28, 6:30 pm : The social and legal history aspects of the Tiszaeszlár trial - Modern era blood libels
Participants: Tamás Kende, György Kövér, István Stipta

December 5, 6:30 pm : Reproduction - The reception of the Tiszaeszlár trial on the extreme right after 1989
Participants: Gwen Jones, Zoltán Kékesi

December 12, 6:30 pm : From Sakter Polka to Healthy Scalp - Musical sub-cultures related to the Tiszaeszlár trial
Presentation by Dániel Véri
False Testimony - Versions and Options
Presentation by Hajnal Németh and Zoltán Kékesi

December 15, 6:30 pm : Screening of the film of the opera The Red Heifer by Iván Fischer
Supporters: Allianz Kulturstiftung, Galerie Patrick Ebensperger, RAM Foundation, Budapest Music Center, Béla Horváth.