Népszabadság (cultural supplement), 16 December 1973


László Szabó

HAPPENING IN THE CRYPT (excerpt) [full article]

When youngsters who have lost their direction in life, muddled ideals and crime meet, the kind of depravation comes into being, which uses empty phrases about freedom to build an “ideology” for freeloading and a lumpen lifestyle.

It is not hard to guess what these people label as art. And these “events” at Balatonboglár proved to be a poor affair even as epigones. It is easy to see where this idea comes from: periodicals in the west are choc-a-bloc with stories of the scandals at similar “happenings”...

Is it even surprising then that the list of participants at these summer séances includes all the names of people representing a range of damaging ideologies from anarchism to antisemitism, from nationalism to cosmopolitanism, from anti-socialism to Maoism? Names that can only be associated with art to the extent that the people that bear them are experts in vagrancy “at an artistic level”. Names entwined with reactionary “symbols”.

“They say you are an artist, Mr Galántai. Your graphic works have been published in several periodicals. Why don’t you focus on that?...”

Half the village saw that art was being ridiculed, and it was far more than a mere whimsy: it was immoral, tasteless and reactionary. It was something a socialist community cannot simply just correspond about. It had to be banned. We should not be ashamed that we ban something in the name of the socialist state if we see behaviour that is detrimental to our society! (full article)

Művészet, 1975/10 – Béla Szémann: Egy legenda vége a kék kápolnában [The end of a legend in the blue chapel]



József Vadas, art critic: “It was no easy thing for me to assemble the programme. As a result of the events of the previous year, for example, only a few artists were willing to participate in the exhibition. Our job was made yet more difficult by something I would simply call “the Balatonboglár legend”. Those colleagues who profited from maintaining this legend said this to spite us: the Galántai [chapel] exhibitions must be recorded in art history as a fact, so any form of continuation, no matter how meaningful, would devalue the original project.”

“And what do you think?”

“Exhibitions and works that represent art historical value cannot be annihilated. Only legends can be destroyed. And when trying to outline the future of the Balatonboglár exhibitions, I think that is exactly what should be done. The truth is that – unlike the legend has it – the Galántai [chapel] exhibitions regrettably had no art historical significance. They were rather mediocre: the odd good artworks were lost among the masses of mediocre, superficially Avant-garde or, alas, dilettante works. And even those few good ones were not made in Balatonboglár.”

“What do you conclude from all this?”

“It is not only the right of young people to look for their own path but it is their obligation. The [Balatonboglár] chapel partly owed its popularity to the fact that Galántai encouraged all experimentation, even the most extreme ones. We would also like to support fresh initiatives. But our aim is not to tangentially copy Western European trends of fine art and rephrase them as epigones. Instead, we wish to provide a forum for modern works that seek an answer to the questions of our socialist reality by using the contemporary results of art. The exhibiting artists and the organisers cannot disconnect themselves from what we call socialist cultural policy.”

The above excerpts are reprinted in: "Underground Art in the Aczél Era", Artpool, Budapest, 1990 (newspaper-poster)