In November 2015 I spent a month as artist in residence at D’CLINIC Studios in Zalaegerszeg, a small city in the western part of Hungary. Over the course of the month I developed several video projects related to place and the passage of time.
In Zeg Time, the chimes of the church in the town square are transformed into a clumsy remix of the familiar folk tune Have you heard the news from Zalaegerszeg?. Isolating the lights around the face of the clock, duplicating them, and manipulating the speed of their flashing, the video suggests the fading lights of a carnival where our understanding of the passage of time is ambiguous and shifting.
Zeg Time (2015)
Not a Church is a video projection piece which draws on the fascinating history of Hungarian embroidery (whose “national style” was essentially invented for a World’s Fair in the late 19th century*, and which continues to serve as one of the staples of the souvenir trade in Hungary today, representing the country in the minds of unsuspecting foreigners like myself who imagine they are tapping into the deep roots of the history of handicrafts in the country). Adopting this embroidery pattern as a symbol of the malleability of history, I layered the image over what appears to be a sort of peephole. This “peephole”, which is actually a roughly 2cm hole in the door of a storage closet of the D’CLINIC studio, followed me throughout the month as both a symbol my outsider’s view peering in on the town and the country, as well as of the way in which moments of history were seemingly simply painted over, not entirely erased but haphazardly whited out and re-adapted for new use. What fascinated me about this door and its hole was that it had clearly been repainted many times, and that at some point, rather than clearing away the spiderwebs in these little holes, they too were painted over, sealing the webs in place and reinforcing them as a constant reminder of the past despite the fresh paint.
Appearing like a rose window of an imaginary cathedral, Not a Church was projected in public spaces around the city for several nights in November 2015.
*Many thanks to Mari Marx at the Göcseji Múzeum for her generous dedication to answering my questions and for giving me a special tour of showing the museum’s collections of historical costumes and textiles.
Not a church (2015)
A companion piece to Not a church, Not that kind of spying again adopts the circular form, here using an embroidery hoop as the frame, and again references an outsider’s tenuous grasp on the complicated history of Hungary, specifically that of the post-World War II era in which spying and being spied upon were woven into the rule of law by the Hungarian Communist Party and the Secret Police. In Not that kind of spying, I record the ordinary, which today at least is just that.
Not that kind of spying (2015)