Exhibitions Online – Galeria Centralis

Damir Očko: DICTA I, 2017 courtesy of the artist

A variety of Blinken OSA exhibitions are available online, including the recently opened Order and Dreams.

More than a year has passed since the pandemic broke out, seriously altering the course of our lives and professional operations. The impact of this new era has left lasting effects, as our institution adapted to the new challenges. One prime example is the public program series of Blinken OSA, finding ways to attract new exhibition audiences online—with the closure of the Galeria Centralis—, which did seem a real challenge at first.

While many of the Hungarian galleries are opening up the Galeria Centralis remains closed till further notice but here is an impressive list of exhibitions that are still available; some of them were installed, then later turned into online exhibitions, some of them were created solely for online.

Faith – Trust – Secrecy
Religions through the lenses of the secret police

The first exhibition on the list was opened onsite on February 28, 2020, but only for a short period of time as the pandemic broke out.

About the exhibition: through 360° interior photos, scanned archival documents, and explanatory texts, visitors can explore the complex interactions of the secret police with religious groups and those seeking to research them. The images, narratives, and testimonies on display reveal the interwovenness of faith and trust, whether sustained or broken, and secrecy.

Photos by Lenke Szilágyi 1990–2002

Although the second exhibition was installed in the gallery, initially it welcomed visitors only online, following its opening event joining the online Night of the Museums of 2020. On July 16, with the end of the first wave of the COVID-19, the exhibition opened physically as well, and attracted many visitors through the summer of 2020.

About the exhibition: for more than a decade, photographer Lenke Szilágyi (who for several years has been working as a photo-archivist in the Archives) regularly traveled to the (former) Soviet Union, witnessing and documenting the fall of Communism and the Post-Soviet realities not only in large centers like Moscow or St. Petersburg but also in rural areas (the Black Sea coast, the Volga region, Karelia, etc.). Her photos are sensitive imprints of an era of constant change and eternal immutability; in her portrays she depicts the hopes and despairs of the time, while also adds her witty commentaries in the diary entries accompanying the photos. The exhibition was the first major show of Szilágyi’s Post-Soviet collection.

From Harvest to Harvest
Hungarian Calvary, 1918–1919

In spite of an online opening event on October 15, 2020, the third exhibition was installed in Galeria Centralis, and visitors could come and see it with serious precautions; until it was forced to close down as well.

About the exhibition: the official historical narrative of the Orbán regime has identified the scapegoat responsible for the collapse and dissolution of the Hungarian Kingdom in the 1918 Aster Revolution and the 1919 Hungarian Soviet Republic. The same discourse, by a false analogy, claims that nowadays once again it is just the virtual “Communists,” a handful of anti-national fanatics, who oppose Orbán’s rule. Against the background of similar falsifications and attempts at demonization, this exhibition endeavors to show the events that occurred in Hungary in 1918–1919 in their real domestic and international context. In doing so, it hopes to shed light on those still unsettled traumas of the age, which could never become mere history in Hungarian collective remembrance.

Records Uncovered
Gay and Lesbian Histories in Central and Southeastern Europe, 1945–1999

The fourth exhibition, a joint project of Blinken OSA and the Háttér Archive and Library, is an online exhibition available since February 26, 2021. It is an “exhibition in progress,” which will be followed by a comprehensive onsite exhibition planned for February 2022.

About the exhibition: Records Uncovered is an online exhibition by the Blinken OSA and the Háttér Archive and Library, which presents the divergences and commonalities among gay and lesbian movements in Central and Southeastern Europe in the second half of the last century. Through legal documentation, media reports, private and institutional correspondence, artworks, and ephemera, this exhibition evinces the understanding of homosexuality and the treatment of sexual minorities, in countries that commonly shared two different political goals at two different periods: the establishment of a new Communist society between the mid-1940s and the early 1990s, and the transition toward a democratic society in the following years.

Order and Dreams
The context of the poem “A Breath of Air!”

The last exhibition on the list has just been opened as part of the OFF-Biennale Budapest Festival, on April 23, 2021. OFF-Biennale Budapest has programs both online and offline – the exhibition Order and Dreams is only online, with further chapters available from May 25, 2021.

About the exhibition: The third edition of OFF-Biennale Budapest, INHALE!, takes the seminal political poem “A Breath of Air!” by 20th-century Hungarian poet Attila József as its starting point. The poem was written in November 1935. Apparently, it was a time of peace and plenty: Europe—and Hungary—had overcome the crisis of the Great Depression; the order was restored. But what kind of order was it that the poet “didn’t dream of”? The research and exhibition project presents the political and social context of the poem through archival materials, while contemporary artworks offer its possible 21st-century reading.