Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Emese Kürti [Biography]
Artpool in Motion: The Archive’s Path from the Underground to the Museum


In the last five years Artpool Art Research Center has been operating as a separate unit of the Museum of Fine Arts, but its transformation into a state funded institution can be considered just another, challenging period in its entire, long institutional history. Founded by György Galántai and Júlia Klaniczay in 1979 Artpool acted as an underground archive based on principles of self-management and self-institutionalization, with a special focus on international experimental art. After the political transition of 1989, Artpool functioned as an NGO relying on state, municipal and Soros Foundation support, and strengthened its profile as a project based institution and as a conceptual art project as well. Due to changing financial conditions, in the post-socialist period, Artpool was facing similar uncertainties as other independent institutions in Europe, forced to reconsider its future operational possibilities. Finally, after long years of instability and negotiations, the archive has been integrated into the Museum of Fine Arts, thus resolving the recurring of discontinuity and suspension in its professional activities, or the possible dissolution of the collection.

Shifting its institutional status from the underground to the state-run public sphere, Artpool is facing another discursive framework today, markedly different from its original one. How contradictory this conceptual change could be? How can we interpret Artpool’s current transition towards musealization in the framework, logic, and methodology of its own experimental past? In my lecture I will argue that Artpool’s strategy employing the “performativity of knowledge” (after Foucault) extends beyond narratives based on established dichotomies and stable historical concepts. Focusing on the self-institutional strategies and occasional cooperations with the Museum of Fine Arts from the eighties on, I will show that Artpool historically ambitioned first public sphere presence and normalization of the local art context, while insisting on its formative underground values.