György Galántai: Ballad (1979)
This object work was made in the Iron Works in Dunaújváros. Its base is a cast iron grill, which is distinguished by high quality design and aesthetic value but it became unusable so was taken to the Iron Works ‘scrap space’ used for metal to be melted down: it was here that it ‘addressed’ the artist.
Galántai replaced the bit that had broken off with his sole etalon, which is his trademark; having been fastened in place with a screw, it perfectly compensates for the missing part and blends into the broken-off corner of the grill.
The aesthetic contrast between the craftsmanship and the damage in this work was elevated into an ethical dimension by the fact that the sole virtually saved the object destined to be scrapped and thus can be seen as a symbol of people making sacrifices for causes above their individual interests.
At the same time, in stark contrast with the self-aggrandising gestures characteristic of public sculpture, in this work the motif of sacrifice is realised through the melding together of man and object conveyed in a discrete yet balladistically tragic way, reminiscent of the folk ballad of Clement Mason.
The sculpture’s pseudo-functional placement on a former drain-tank and the sound poetry (from Katalin Ladik’s record Phonopoetica from 1976) from under it bring to life the contrasting semantic layers of the object-combination.