Omnivore – or how to start a gallery in style

Author: Barbara Dudás

Published on: 23.04.2015

There is a brand new gallery on the horizon of the contemporary Hungarian art scene, envisioned by two young curators Róza Tekla Szilágyi and Lili Berta Téglásy. The gallery’s first exhibition entitled Much Ado About Nothing is opening tonight. On this occasion we asked Róza Tekla Szilágyi to give us a scoop and tell ArtGuideEast how their story begun.

Omnivore Gallery – the name itself suggests a lot. Feeding those who are hungry for art, being open to various things, forms, medium, etc. But what does it stand for in your understanding? How did you end up choosing this name?

An omnivore will eat pretty much anything in sight. Humans are genetically designed to be omnivores, but some people choose to limit their diets. Our aim is to have a little experiment with this industrial and well-located venture’s atmosphere and see how it will temper our appetite in terms of exhibited mediums. For the years ahead of us Omnivore Gallery will be our lab and we honestly hope that this is just the beginning. To stick with the eating-themed metaphor, we hope that Omnivore’s menu will always show a healthy and balanced diversity. We have a lot of unrealized love-projects in mind to come.

How and when did your story begin? What was the trigger – on personal as well as on professional level – for starting this venture? Tell us more about the “before gallery” stage.

We were planning to start our own project-based non-profit contemporary art space for like two years by now. Lili and I are friends and both of us have an art history background. I got my degree from ELTE majored in art history and Lili will finish her studies this June. With Lili we realized that every time we talk we share our ideas about contemporary art even when everyone else around us got tired of our argumentation. We both did internships at international contemporary art galleries, like PiArtworks in Istanbul and Knoll Galerie in Vienna and this is the time when we really started to wonder: shouldn’t we give it a shot, find a place and start our own gallery where we can realize our own project ideas together? Now I am in the middle of my master studies at MKE’s Contemporary Art Theory and Curatorial Department so having everyday conversations about the impact of curating and the contemporary culture pushed me even harder to come up with my own project ideas. I’m not an easy-going person and Lili has that special tolerance and those bright ideas that I can not appreciate enough. We have a lot to learn but a lot to share too.

The Omnivore girls: Lili Berta Téglásy and Róza Tekla Szilágyi
The Omnivore girls: Lili Berta Téglásy and Róza Tekla Szilágyi


In your introductory text you mention the importance of working in close co-operation with the artists – beyond the context of the actual exhibitions. How do you envision, what is the position the gallery will hold in the Hungarian contemporary scene? What are your main goals? 

The reason why we picked working-together-with-young-artists as our main line is because we really love the opportunity what contemporary art gives us regarding collaboration. We would like to create and share a “creative space,” where the artist and us, the curators can work together as equal partners and authors in a constant dialogue. We want to embrace this idea to see how far we can go with project-based collaborations. Our main goal is to set up a venture where we can start our hopefully relevant dialogues not just with the artists we are working with but with the wider culture scene by connecting to the ongoing and preexistent dialogues.

What is the importance of the location?

The gallery is in Kertész Street next to Klub Vittula which is Budapest’s major black hole when we speak about Friday and Saturday nights. We use a space which is connected to the bar in a way but still separated and functions as a standalone gallery space with its own entrance facing the street directly. Years ago Timothy Green, Vittula’s owner opened up a gallery, called Chinese Characters here before which was a part of Budapest’s independent art scene and was also mentioned in Katarina Sevic’s publication titled We Are Not Ducks On a Pond But Ships at Sea. Lili and I spent way too much Friday nights at Vittula but this way we were lucky enough to meet Tim who offered us the space and gave his permission to start a new gallery there. Vittula has its positive impact on the venture’s atmosphere by making it less like a whitecube more like a collaborative gallery space and open-art-office with its own potentials. So again, thank you very-very-very much Tim!

Your first exhibition Much Ado About Nothing opens on the 23rd April, just before the official opening weekend of the OFF-Biennale Budapest. Was it a deliberate choice to launch the new gallery during the biennale or is it just a lucky coincidence? 

We decided to launch the gallery before the official opening weekend on purpose. We do think that OFF-BB is a prominently important initiation, which directs attention to the contemporary art scene in Hungary. On the whole we think that this can be our way to support and take a part in what’s happening in the contemporary art scene during this exciting period.

The exhibition examines the paradoxical nature of nothing and nothingness through the works of four artists (Dániel Bernáth / Zsófia Keresztes / Rita Koszorús / Ágnes Hardi) representing four different medium. Could you elaborate on the concept a little further? 

The notion of nothing got stuck in our minds a while ago. This exhibition is our first attempt to show our own understanding of the world around us by starting a discussion. As curators we were given a chance to pick. To pick something, one certain artwork from a bunch, and by this decision, to show that particular artwork as something, as part of a train of thought. We would like to question our so-called power position as curators by taking up the question of nothing. On this point it’s treading on a delicate ground but we hope the displayed artworks will show will bring forward the different aspects of the thought in question.

Does it have any symbolical importance that you start with an exhibition focusing on nothing? It’s all uphill from here – aiming towards a certain something?

The public can easily question launching a venture when you are in the beginning of your twenties. You have to match certain professional expectations, you have to sort out your financial situation you have to be adequate and enthusiastic but most of all you have to enjoy it yourself. We know that we won’t find our way undirected, but we would like to give it a go and size the opportunity. Because we start from scratch, from nothing. And we can’t loose anything.

What are your plans for the near future and for this year?    

Lili is working on a project dealing with art definitions and I started a research on the topic of work/job concerning the young cultural workers’ flexible attitude. Both of these researches will be presented within the confines of two exhibitions. For Much Ado About Nothing we asked Maria Lima Victor and Sós József to dream us a fanzine debuting at the opening. We would like to keep this as a habit completed with pdf readers for those who would like to go deeper in the represented topics.

Omnivore Gallery

4 Kertész Street

Budapest, Hungary