Questions by Gábor Ébli
One item each of the “EuRoFlag” by 2META is in two Hungarian private collections. Gábor Hunya (born 1953) works as economic analyst in Vienna, sharing his life between the Austrian and Hungarian capitals. With his research projects devoted to Eastern Europe, his collection features contemporary positions from Romania and Hungary, often of a strongly political content; see Bucharest – Budapest Bridge: Contemporary Romanian and Hungarian Arts. The Gábor Hunya Collection, ed. Emese Kürti (Budapest: Vince Books, 2009). Lajos Ludman (born 1960) is a businessman based in Budapest with an extensive collection of modern and contemporary Hungarian art, reaching out to select other works from Eastern Europe, e.g. by the Slovene group IRWIN.
How did you get to hear about 2META?
G. H.: I met Maria and Romelo during one of my frequent visits to Bucharest where they ran a fascinating art place. I also visited the 2META booth at Viennafair in 2006 where the “EuRoFlag” project was presented. 2META was in an innovative period both as to the substance and technique of the works. They presented daring projects using digital technologies. I started to appreciate Romelo also for his curatorial work, the effort and money he’d invested in The Biennial of Young Artists and the programme magazine CMYK.
L. L.: Having heard of his great cross-cultural collection, in the summer of 2009 I visited Gábor Hunya in Budapest. There I encountered “EuRoFlag” and it immediately impressed me. This was the very first time I had heard of 2META. As I told Gábor that this was a particular work I liked a lot, he explained the context and who 2META, i. e. Maria Manolescu and Romelo Pervolovici, were.
Why did you pick specifically this work?
G. H.: Both the meaning and the form of the work appealed to me. “EuRoFlag” project was prepared during the negotiations of Romania’s terms of EU accession. In this relationship, Romania was the rule-taker and had hardly any means to fight for derogations. The deformed and enlarged symbol of the EU stars embracing tiny Romania expresses this unequal relationship. The overwhelming mood in Romania at that time was total and unconditional acceptance of whatever outcome that would lead to full membership. The use of strong symbols and clean colours in “EuRoFlag” is youngish and optimistic expressing this EUphoria. But the deformation of the stars transmits violence and anxiety. It was in fact hardly foreseeable what changes may come with membership. Not even transitory protection was provided to the Romanian textile and clothing industry to be wiped out within a few years, or to foreign ownership of agricultural land. Beyond the rich and challenging connotations, I still very much like the way the two artists present their ideas. It represented also a technical innovation: EuRoFlag was the first artwork specially printed for me.
L. L.: I hope it is not a contradiction of terms to say that “EuRoFlag” is a very expressive conceptual work. Looking at it from the Hungarian contemporary landscape, I found its political context fresh, provocative and significant.
Has the work been exhibited while in your collection?
G. H.: Let me explain why I have two versions of the work. The first and original, of 2005, is 100x100 cm, which I purchased at Viennafair in 2006. This was partly damaged while transported back from the 2008 Bucharest exhibition of my collection. Romelo offered to print another one, 120x120 cm. Also a print for Lajos Ludman was prepared at this time, both brought to Budapest in autumn 2009. (In the current catalogue, 102.5 cm may be the size on the print, but it is 100 cm on the frame, the print covering also its edges.) Now, the work in my collection was first shown at “Bucharest-Budapest Bridge”, a joint show in Caminul Artei and in the Hungarian Cultural Institute, Bucharest, in November 2008. 2META’s visual art magazine CMYK published a special issue on this occasion. Secondly, the work came to be exhibited in the show on my sixtieth birthday, “HG60 – Esztétikai engedetlenség” (“Aesthetic Disobedience”), in MÜSZI, in Budapest, for a few days only, from 29 March till 1 April, 2013. (See http://artycok.tv/lang/en-us/19355/hg60-aesthetic-disobedience.”
curator, associated professor
Budapest – Vienna, 4th of July 2016