Project Arts Centre Presents


Szabolcs KissPál: From Fake Mountains to Faith (Hungarian Trilogy)

Dates: 23 Nov - 20 Jan

Show Time: 11am-7.30pm


Opening: Thurs 23 November 6 – 8pm. All welcome

Artist Talk: 23 November 5.30pm


From Fake Mountains to Faith (Hungarian Trilogy) is a docu-fiction project by Szabolcs KissPál. In line with the artist’s previous works, the exhibition investigates political communities, not as inherited or essentialist, but as complexly constructed entities.

Through various media and representational techniques, KissPál re-examines and opens a new perspective on a series of charged, ever-changing symbols that have been repeatedly exploited to promote a homogenous and oppressive idea of the Hungarian nation.

At the centre of his investigations, and translated for an international perspective, is an analysis of the quite recent authoritarian turn and development of ‘illiberal’ Hungarian state policy. From Fake Mountains to Faith (Hungarian Trilogy) examines the complex and shifting relationship between this state policy and the political and cultural philosophy that operates as its ideological basis.

From Fake Mountains to Faith (Hungarian Trilogy) Book Launch: 12 January 5pm

Guided Tour with Prof. David Crowley: 17 January 5pm

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KissPál’s exhibition is made up of two docu-fiction videos and an installation that presents a fictitious museum setting. Within a larger historical and cultural framework, these works establish interconnections between the three major elements of the state philosophy in question: the symbolism of the ‘ethnic landscape’ and political geography; the romantic historiography of national myths of origin; and Turanism, a re-emerging form of political religion and a movement to politically and culturally unite the Turkic, Tatar, and Uralic peoples living in Turkey and across Eurasia from Hungary to the Pacific.

Amorous Geography, the first video work of the Hungarian Trilogy, deals with one of the most persistent—though repressed—motifs of Hungarian historical memory: the Treaty of Trianon (1920) and the national trauma caused by its fait accompli redefining of the borders and the regulated status of the independent Hungarian state. Subsumed into the narrative of national victimhood and political revisionism, these events exerted a long-lasting effect on the development of Hungarian society, shaping its socio-political structures, defining its cultural positions, and fuelling its socio-cultural frustrations throughout the twentieth century and up to the present day.

In an associated chain of historical references, The Rise of the Fallen Feather focuses on the symbolism of a totem bird – the mythological Turul. The film examines the ways in which its symbolism affected twentieth century Hungarian history, and the bird’s place in a magical, if amnesiac, collective memory that begins in very early times, culminating in the present ‘blood and soil’ ideology.

The Chasm Records takes the form of a museum display, presenting items from a fictitious archaeological find. Through references to historical objects, documents, and relics from both Hungary’s interwar and wartime periods, the political formation of the nation is revealed – a process still being completed in contemporary Hungarian society. The narrative presentation of the archaeological objects identifies the main constitutive element of national ideology: political religion as a tool to exclude particular groups and events from collective memory.

Szabolcs KissPál (1967) was born in Marosvásárhely, Romania, and is based in Budapest, Hungary. He works in various media, from photography and video, to installation, objects and public interventions. His main field of interest lies in the intersection between new media, visual arts, and social issues. He currently teaches at the University of Fine Arts Budapest, and he was a studio leader at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia from 2013-15.

KissPál’s works have been presented at the Venice Biennale, ISCP New York, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Seoul International Media Art Biennale, and are in the collections of the Ludwig Museum for Contemporary Art Budapest, the National Museum for Contemporary Art Bucharest, the Muzeum Współczesne Wrocław, and the Kaddist Art Foundation Paris. The artist developed a collaborative activist practice between 2012-2015, establishing and maintaining the NO MMA multilingual blog about Hungarian culture and politics. He is one of the founders of the protest group Free Artist.

From Fake Mountains to Faith (Hungarian Trilogy) was produced with the help of the Grant for Media Art of the Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst and Stiftung Niedersachsen. The project has been presented at the Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst Oldenburg, Cluj-Napoca, Kostka Gallery – Meatfactory, Prague, and most recently at OFF-Biennale Budapest.

From Fake Mountains to Faith (Hungarian Trilogy) is curated by Project Art Centre curator Lívia Páldi.

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