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. 

Interview with Petra Feriancová

Vulnerable Yet Everlasting (Archive of Květa Fulierová) @ OFF-Biennale, Budapest


Author: Tina Kaplár
Published on: 21.04.2015

 The archive of Květa Fulierová occupies the space of two built-in closets. Květa’s archive was a source of many post-production pieces of her partner Július Koller. Květa constantly documented the time they had spent together. She would document even the most mundane everyday situations at home, on holiday, while traveling or at work etc. Petra Feriancová talks about her upcoming exhibition at the OFF-Biennale Budapest.

Petra Feriancová
Petra Feriancová

Tina Kaplár: Documentary has been in your focus of interest for long, first you made your collections, the so-called Cycles of different natural and social phenomena, how do you find your foci?

Petra Feriancová: The use of documenting is connected to my need of making a report of my being, but also a report of “being” as a universal term. For me my life is the source and the way also. Maybe it is just my alibistic approach, so at least I don’t feel guilty when I don’t work properly and I can just mess around-) It is a lot about looking. I love to look. I think we are born to look. Observation is basic. And doing a show allows me to see. My themes have developed with time. They were collected and grew, somehow, so that it was possible to recognize the groups of certain types, so I decided to name them based on what they picture. It was quite important for me to avoid any kind of classification of what they could mean. There are very different topics. But the decision comes later.

Petra Feriancová: Order of Things II 2013, Installation view Venice Biennale, photo by Keizo KiokuTK: I remember your site-specific installation at the 55th Venice Biennale Order of Things II, where you used Venice as a starting point and theme, but it simply disappeared in a return to intimate history: the photographs and their collections were taken for purely personal reasons about you and your family and had in fact nothing in common with the Venice picture we usually have in mind. How was it received?

PF: There is always a gap between the experience and imagination. And big gap between the Biennale audience and a quite hermetic discourse I did there. I needed to ignore the whole situation of the Biennale mess, but also that strong visual reality that Venice offers. I wanted to talk more about the ideal, interior space I have taken there in my mind. I knew that it was not very strategic for a Biennale format, where works are competing for their biggest visual impact. But since the beginning that was not my goal. There were very few, but for me important people who liked it. Enwezor wrote about it in Artforum. And Cotter in New York Times. For me it was important to question our relation to objects, objects that just per chance were not thrown away, but instead are everlasting and outlive us. I have practically moved my entire belongings there. I liked the idea of totally impractical transport via boats, just like romantics. And many other themes connected to it such as a permanent journey, gran tourism, souvenirs, empiricism vs. provided knowledge ect.

Petra Feriancová Playgrounds, 2010 From the series taken by my Dad Silver print
Petra Feriancová Playgrounds, 2010 From the series taken by my Dad Silver print

TK:  You have been working with archives recently, in an interview made in 2011 I read your words: “Recently I decided to forego working with my own material. My work involving the external world had become saturated to such an extent that I decided to focus on material already accumulated. It is based on this, that idea of working with the archives accumulated by my relatives, was born. “

PF: Yes. It is connected to my living again. I have spent six years in Italy most of the time doing nothing, traveling and messing around the city. Then I returned home. And there began the time that I would stare at the ceiling for entire days without feeling any need to go out. I was digesting those few years, changing them into years I have spent in a kind of seclusion. I went through all the material I have collected at the time and have taken with me. And then I started to go through all images I found in our house. You know those kinds of things that survived per chance and thus became relicts. I am aware of the limit of human ability to collect. The limited amount is meaningful. I do not go and search for new material. It is basically the material I live with, it has been here for a long time, and I can find a lot of new in it every time I go through it. I combine and reassume it every time I can. I practically use the same stuff and I just change its order. Just like in a sentence. I use the archive as a tongue. Sometimes I do create also, for example I take the pictures of nothing. I do it just to measure my time. The image is not important, what matters is time, the image refers to a moment that does not represent anything. The appearance is only the reference and a new existence. But this new existence is casual and I do not want to control it. I can start to appreciate it as it would not be mine. But as usual, it takes time with my work. Maybe I have to forget them totally. My new photos are taken with old Practica or Zenit and it’s more about the act of having enough time to take the camera out of the bag and use it. These images are blind. I study them later.

TK: What have your first archiving projects been ?

PF: I was not aware that I am working on an archive, until Daniel Grun pointed it out. For me it is all about watching that, which interest me most. Working on an archive for me is to question all possibilities of viewing and perceiving. 

Interview with Damir Ocko

Croatia at the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale


Author: Nikolett Kadlót
Published on: 14.04.2015

Studies on Shivering: The Third Degree is the title of the project which was selected by the Ministry of Culture for representing Croatia at the Venice Biennale this year. Damir Ocko artist and curator Marc Bembekoff share their thoughts about the investigation of human body and its political context.

Nikolett Kadlót: What was the first concept idea  when you started collaboration with curator Marc Bembekoff?

Damir Ocko: Marc and I have been working together ever since my show in Palais de Tokyo. We have a very productive relationship and he has been more or less involved with the project since the very beginning. For the initial exhibition of this project in Graz I asked him to contribute with an imagined script for “his” own film that we included in the publication. I’d say that there is more substantial contribution by Marc to this project specially developed for Venice Biennale. For Venice, beside working together along the regular modes of thinking and production, I asked him if we could do a “reversed interview” in which I will be asking him questions, reversing the usual curator/artist role. It was an extraordinary experiment for me. It opened a fresh perspective, it challenged me as an artist and Marc as a curator.

NK: As this work is part of a bigger project that you have been developing over the past few years, can you summerize the background of it?

DO: Main idea behind the project draws itself from a relationship between body and its political context. The body as a representation of the social landscape. In two main films that form a core of the project, TK and The Third Degree, I observe and build upon the physical disruptions. In TK there is an old man with Parkinson condition that I asked to write the lines beginning with the word “tranquility”.  He writes the tranquillity with an unrest. Then there are scenes in which I asked young men to shiver naked on a harsh winter day until their body could take it no more. It is about showing the mechanisms of control. Human body shivers when there is no more control over it. In The Third Degree, the film that grew from certain issues regarding filming of the TK, I express the role of the camera differently, showing its body perform itself, but a way it does so, is by integrating itself together with the subject of the film, which are bodies of women heavily scared by fire. So while I carry on with the subject, in the same time I make ourselves, the crew, the camera, symbiotic part of it. Essentially is the idea of togetherness emerging from questions related to violence in social context.

Damir Očko TK, 2014: Film still, 4K transferred to HD video, 19’48’’ Courtesy the artist and Tiziana Di Caro, Naples

NK: You frequently work with language because of its playfulness and ambiguity. Why has it become an important art material for you?

DO: It is not really about the language, but the shaping of ones voice. I am interested in a voice as a kind of a human mark. I work with different materials that utilize the language, such as poetry, film or even music. But my main interest is not in the material itself, it is in the political implications of language.

NK: You have very complex works including videos, poetry or different ideas with paper itself. How do you choose the way of expressions while work?

DO: I don’t choose. I work with what is necessary. However I do think about the expanded film as a space in which other media come from.

Damir Očko TK, 2014: Film still, 4K transferred to HD video, 19’48’’ Courtesy the artist and Tiziana Di Caro, Naples

NK: I am very curious to know who your artistic influences are?

DO: Hard question. To be honest I always felt I was mostly influenced by composers and poets. Ligeti, Lachenman, Nono, Eliot, Ginsberg and Hughes.

NK: What does this participation mean for you?

DO: I think about it as an important step for the project and for development of my work. This will be a first exhibition in which TK and The Third Degree are shown together, and it is an important statement. Works grow from each other, they grew in my studio, through productions as ideas, now I am looking forward to see how they implement the ideas in the space, with each other, against each other, contemplating on each other.

Damir Očko, The Third Degree, 2015 Film still, 4K transferred to HD video, 11’ Courtesy the artist and Tiziana Di Caro, Naples

NK: Will ‘Studies on Shivering‘ be continued or do you have other plans/concepts for the future?

DO: This is not the way I think. I don’t have a predictable schedule. But knowing how my practice functions, I’d say for sure what ever I do in the future will grow from the works I did. I am an artist that develops rather than one that is at all concerned with the notion of “new”.

NK: Your first solo show in Budapest was at TRAPÉZ gallery in 2013. The exhibition called PSST. Can you share your experiences and thoughts about that show?

DO: I felt the TRAPEZ was trying to do something really refreshing in Budapest. I liked it. The show was small, but for me it was an experiment, to make an exhibition that came from a margins of what I was working on around that period, but not to be centered to it. So, it was a small but refreshing.

Damir Ocko

Damir Ocko is one of the most prominent Croatian artist of his generation. His videos, films,  poetry and works on paper have been exhibited recently in Temple Bar Gallery in Dublin (2014), KM – Künstlerhaus Halle für Kunst & Medien in Graz (2014),  Yvon Lambert gallery in Paris (2013), Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2012), Galleria Tiziana Di Caro in Salerno (2012), and Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (2011).