Opening: Thursday, 30. 05. 2019. at 20:00
Duration: open from 30. 05. to 23. 06. 2019.
Curator: Branko Popović
Is love important in art as much as in life? It may not be, after all. But life is bigger than art. To Róbert Szabó Benke art is a means of making self-constructed identities, and love is a possible form of resistance. The politicalness of his art work lies in its gentleness.
Gentle Strategies of Resistance is an exhibition which for the first time presents the works of Róbert Szabó Benke to our audience. Róbert Szabó Benke, who comes from Novi Kneževac, chose Budapest as his base, and as the stage for his fringe artistic work in the early 90s. He uses photography as the main medium of expression and exploration, but he approaches it in a postmedia fashion, widening its range to encompass the media of performance, theatre, video, and installation. He treats photography in a decidedly pictural and theatrical manner, as a highly aestheticized work in its own right, but also as a photographic document of a para-artistic situation, and an act of self-transformation. The characters featured in the photos are almost universally (self)constructed, and the artist uses his friends, lovers or himself as models and plays with their real and the imaginary identities, changing their outfit or stripping them of it, placing them in common or theatricized environments. Photos directed in such ways often follow para-historical, para-mythological and futuristic narratives in which one can detect influences of oriental and popular cultures interwoven. The focal point of Róbert Szabó Benke’s work is the question of rising above the dominant narratives of one’s identity and finding personal and micro-collective strategies of resisting them. His artistic work is a form of struggle for the right of self-subjectification, which finds its foothold in the policy of friendship and in the subversive and emancipating potential of love.
The exhibition Gentle Strategies of Resistance is a cross-section of Róbert Szabó Benke’s work and it is devised in three parts, each based on a different theme – The Place, The Self, The Other – with the selected works from different periods and series falling into each category. A part of the exhibition comprises materials from the family albums, newspaper clippings, documents related to the performances and artistic acts, as well as other paraphernalia, which provides the artist’s work with a historical and cultural context. As a special segment of the exhibition, Róbert Szabó Benke will devise an installation «My Home», which will serve as his temporary home in the museum while the exhibition is in place. A number of associated activities have also been planned, such as guided tours with the author/curator, listening to the records from the artist’s collection, participatory acts of changing clothes, street performances, etc.
Julia Fabenyi, the director of Ludwig Muzeum in Budapest, who has supported the exhibition and collaborated in its coming to life, will be present at the opening of the exhibition. The pianist, Branka Parlić, will perform at the opening.
Robert Sabo Benke (1970) grew up in Novi Kneževac and finished the grammar school in Sremski Karlovci. In 1990 he left Novi Sad to move to Budapest, where he established himself as and artist and further developed, first in the domain of the alternative and then of the institutionalized scene at the turn of the century. He has had his works exhibited in numerous museum and galleries abroad (Kunsthalle, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, National Museum in Warsaw, Berlin Biennale) and his works can be found in some prominent private and public collections (Alföldi Róbert, Budapest, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Dunaújváros, Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Japan)
Branko Popović (1971) is a freelance curator, director and performer from Novi Sad, who lives and works in Italy. He graduated as a theatre director at INSAS in Brussels, and got a doctor’s degree in theatrology at the University of Bologne. He is active in the field of postdramatic theatre and in the field of relational art, which is seen in the numerous projects he participated in across Europe and Asia. In his work he is preocupied with the phenomenon of the performative and theatrical aspects being interwoven in the performing and visual arts and the question of political aspect of art and the transformative potential of artists’ work.