Artpool’s tenth participation in the 25-year-old Budapest Spring Festival


a Budapest Spring Festival that was unimaginable in 1981

exhibition event from the documents of the “underground art” institution experiments [video]

Emigré, semi-Emigré, non-Emigré art

(the term “immigrant” here/now refers to the state of existence of an entitled, cognizant, competent and free individual

Supported / non-Emigré | Tolerated / semi-Emigré | Banned / Emigré

“Assumption: I have the chance to go back to the past and interfere in the course of events somehow, for example by preventing my birth, and then return to my own present.” (Miklós Erdély: Probability study, 1983)

The starting point is a secret service report, according to which: [the representatives of parallel culture] arrogate themselves the right to release their own publications and regularly organise exhibitions in small private galleries and other exhibition venues in order to be able to pursue their uncontrolled activities. They have established their own organisations, coordinating office, a sound and film archive and a “journal” without informing the cultural authorities. [...] their organisational activity increased in line with their “art” being listened to over and over by the official organs for review, they have taken very definite measures to create a wider scope of opportunities for themselves, using the white spots of decentralisation [...] Lóránd Hegyi spoke about their tactics that he thought should be followed by others thus: in the practice of cultural policy the opportunities for moving on should be developed and carried in a “no man’s land”. [...] The current action of the members of the group is a continuation of the anti-societal activity of the underground movement of the 1960s. Dr László Beke, Miklós Erdély, and the emigré Tamás Szentjóby are prominent representatives of the underground movement organised happenings interspersed with absurd ideas, and “popularised” and propagated “independent art” and living outside of society with reactionary writings. (Dossier with code name Painter, Report September 1981)

[...] the processing of concrete events of art historical significance, exhibitions, actions and works is currently being carried out by the Art Writer Division of the Association of Fine Artists and the Art History Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, among others. The history of the recent past can be analysed and systematised from a distance of 10 years. [...] The documents (catalogues, critiques, etc.) are already being processed and plare brought before the public, for example, as historical documents of an era and background material in the exhibition titled Tendencies, similarly to the best works of this decade, which entered collections of our modern art museums. [...] (D.cn.P., Report 15 October, 1980)

[...] László Beke and Dóra Maurer organised a photographic exhibition titled “Exposition” in the Lajos Hatvany Museum [...] examples of “commemorative exhibitions” [...] are Sándor Altorjai’s exhibition in the Zichy Palace and the Tibor Hajas exhibition planned to be mounted in the Hungarian National Gallery. [...], the exhibition titled “Six Hungarian Artists” in the Modern Museum in Gent [...] The list of names published in the “Art Diary” was placed at the disposal of the representative of Flash Art by Dr László Beke and György Galántai. [...] Their ambition is to “take root” or become leaders of theory and practice from the background by completely utilising their opportunities to appear on the art scene (D.cn.P., Report September 1981)

György Galántai’s exhibition organised in the French Institute was opened by Endre Szkárosi. The title of the second poem played was: “Prison Song; Pseudo-Dadaist poem. Or: From the Diary of My Captivity.” The poem is constructed by repeating and combining the syllables of the word prison. Those present could easily think of being in a prison, because the environment with the bare walls of the cellar and the darkness triggered this association. (D.cn.P., Report 27 March 1980)

Galántai participated in the “Open Days” programme – advertised for textile artists – of the “Creative Workshop in Velem” this year too. His activity was manifest in organising a protest action against the storage method of the Savaria Museum in Szombathely, which he found unsuitable. As he told us, he and his wife “hanged” themselves in the storage vault. They photographed their action for documentary purposes. (D.cn.P., Report December 1981)

The editorial board of the Living Periodical was granted permission to operate after the approval of the Attila József Circle of Young Writers of the Hungarian Writers’ Association. They intend to include representatives of other branches of art in the activities of the Living Periodical, as well as social sciences professionals, university students, secondary school children, those studying at vocational schools and those living in workers’ hostels. They want to work together with the participants of the “Monday seminar” and samizdat writers. In the opinion of one of our targets the Living Periodical is a type of organisation potentially on a par with the Petőfi Circle. The management of the Hungarian Atelier wanted to organise an exhibition in March 1980 for the “atelier-associates” in Hungary and abroad through the Institute of Cultural Relations. (D.cn.P., Report March 1980)

About Róbert Swierkiewicz’s “Újpest Mini Gallery” and the on-going manipulations by György Galántai. [...] To the vice-president of the executive committee of the 4th district Council of Budapest about using the “Mini Gallery for reactionary exhibitions and gatherings”. [...] My acquaintance went to the exhibition “Art and Post” held in the Mini Gallery in Újpest. (D.cn.P., Report 27 August, 1981)

In 1981, Galántai is primarily involved in the promotion and organisation of “post art - Mail Art”. He is planning to exhibit the submitted materials indiscriminately, as they arrive. Misleading the authorities, at the exhibition announced as “Mail Art” he actually displayed the material collected by Art Pool. The majority of the “works” were made by Western citizens. No Hungarian translation was provided for the foreign language captions. He also exhibited the entire documentary material of Hungarian Avant-garde art from his collection. [...] The exhibition “Tower” was opened but was closed down two days later; the official reason was that 3-4 “pictures” had not been juried. (D.cn.P., Report 30 December, 1981)


The activities of the group “Indigo”, created by Miklós Erdély, who we keep tabs on because of his antisocial actions. (D.cn.P., Report 7 February, 1980)


Some of the plays performed in the club have a Western orientation. For example, the band Inconnu from Szolnok had a performance titled the “Metamorphosis of Bodies” at the beginning of the year, focusing on aggression, sadism, violence and helplessness. During the show, one of the performers was taken away in an ambulance and was in hospital with his injuries. (D.cn.P., Report March 1980)

The informer believes that the happening was a kind of commemoration action. Knowing that Bokros et al planned the performance to be on 23 October 1981 (this did not happen), it can be assumed that they wanted to allude to the events of 1956. After the performance, Galántai handed out the book-like propaganda material of Inconnu to his acquaintances. (D.cn.P., Report 31 December, 1981)


We applied operative technical regulation 3/a for his surveillance and introduced check “K”. The information generated was continuously evaluated. We informed the top leadership on four occasions about his reactionary activity, plans - ART POOL actions, ... and other exhibitions and talks of his, and signalled to the competent organs on six occasions. (D.cn.P., Report 23 April, 1980)

Our informer told us that he met one of the employees of the Art Department of the Baranya County Council. He inquired how a significant art institution like the Janus Pannonius Museum of Pécs can be included in the “Art Pool” publication as a member. The employee was surprised by this and knew nothing about it. (F.fn.d., Report 10 July, 1980)

About Halász’s theatre and the activities of the “Indigo” group created by Miklós Erdély, who we keep tabs on because of his antisocial actions. Informer calls attention to the “Hungarian Avant-garde Art Museum”, created by András Bán and to the action launched with the title “Textile without Textile”. Rudolf Ungváry, who is a contact of the targets of the confidential investigation under code name “Waiters”, informed Galántai that he would include Art Pool’s leaflet in the so-called “3rd volume of the samizdat periodical Napló”. We do not know our target’s opinion about this. (D.cn.P., Report 8 October, 1980)

My acquaintance inquired about the end of the “performance” of Swiss artist Minkoff. This performance was specifically organised by Galántai and his wife for the artist and the venue was one of the rooms in the Club of Young Artists. (D.cn.P., Report 30 December, 1981)

[Zsuzsa Simon Office]

They contacted the Fine Arts Fund of the Hungarian People’s Republic to ask for permission to establish a "private gallery".
The “company gathering on a private basis” comprises 30 persons, including some who are under confidential investigation because of their reactionary activities and their close associates; György Galántai, Tibor Hajas, János Vető, Péter Forgács, György Fazekas, Károly Kelemen etc. They set up the administrative organ of the “Autonomous Gallery”. (D.cn.P., Report 12 July, 1980)

We informed comrade Vészics - about the objectives, plans, exhibition organisation and art sale activity of the “Office”, established by Zsuzsa Simon (staff member of the Museum of Fine Arts), without having permission of the cultural authorities. It asks for a 20% commission for mediating the sale of artworks. We told them that the “Zsuzsa Simon Office” operates; at an exhibition combined with a talk, held in a private home, András Bán purchased a picture for the Museum of Sárospatak for 8,000 forints. (D.cn.P., Report 9 October, 1981)

[Photography Papers]

Circular question about “Realism” - Bán and art historian Csaba Könczöl sent a stencilled circular letter to ca. ... individuals. Some of the addressees have been under surveillance by our organs for several years because of their reactionary activities. They felt that the theme was important to elaborate because “Realism has become a political weapon”. And they want to prove – as it transpires from the answers given to the circular questions – that “Realism has no alternative”. These materials are at the disposal of the Museum of Hungarian Avant-garde Art, can be circulated as samizdat literature at any time and can be sent abroad for publication. (D.cn.P., Report, March 1980)

The exhibition titled “Portraits” and the new photography publication founded by András Bán and László Lugosi with the title “Photography Papers”, which they circulate as samizdat literature, were advertised under the cover of the Club of Young Artists. The objective of “publishing” the periodical is to help young people engaged in photography to get to know each other and each other’s works. The symposium titled “The Culture of the 70s”, organised by András Bán and Csaba Könczöl, will run in the Club of Young Artists from 10 to 12 April 1980. A debate has already been held about “The nation and the Gypsy question”. They had to postpone the debates planned about “Jewish identity–Hungarian ” and “Poverty” – due to our intervention. (D.cn.P., Report March 1980)

[Snob International]

[Galántai] revived his relationship with László Beke and Tamás Papp. They are planning to jointly launch an illegal “rock magazine” for distribution. The reactionary disposition of these persons and the conspiratory aspects of the organising foreshadow the contents and nature of this publication. (D.cn.P., Report December 1981)

SZETA, The Fund Supporting the Poor is planning a large-scale charity action among fine artists. More than 100 artists have volunteered their pictures, graphic works and sculptures. These will partly be put up for auction and some sold at an exhibition. The sums, anticipated to be significant, will not be collected by the artists but will go to the Fund. (D.cn.P., Report 19 November, 1980)