press release

Opening: Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 7 pm

ZBYNEK BALADRÁN - GLOSSARY First part of FOOTNOTES: a series of projects curated by Hajnalka Somogyi November 29, 2007 – January 27, 2008

The term “footnote” may have several meanings. In the first place, it refers to very specific information, claiming the attention of only those deeply interested in the issues discussed by the main body of a text. However, it might get a much more exciting means once the text to be footnoted is not our own. In this case, footnoting resembles the method of writing remarks with pencil on the margins of a book – a gesture of expressing (counter-)opinion, of forming questions; a seed for new ideas the stimulus in the text being chosen arbitrarily, according to one’s personal interest. Not only background information for insiders anymore, footnote then becomes a means of expression commenting, questioning or overwriting the main text, which process is as telling of its author as of the content of the footnoted text inspiring, annoying, helping or confusing its reader once it gets into someone else’s hands. The parallel between footnoting and the way contemporary art reflects on its surrounding has been drawn in several cases, as by the concept of the 2nd Moscow Biennial earlier this year. However, the site of our project enriches this term with a special resonance. The physical position of this three by five meters window case in an underpass leading to Secession on the level of its basement seems to be an ideal place to present footnotes. With its institutional bonds to Secession, being situated under Karlsplatz, a square surrounded by established cultural institutions, the venue suggests the function of an appendix, of a site to place remarks and comments.

As an entity outside the main body of the institution and intruding into public space, it embodies Secession’s program policy of extending its activities beyond its walls. It communicates with a wide range of people, although typically with ones being on the move, in a hurry, in-between two places, running through the grey corridor of the underpass or trying to find the right exit as they make their way in the city’s labyrinth. Why would they stop?

A display case usually contains advertisements, posters and announcements. The art projects, the footnotes to be displayed will engage in a dialogue with the site: with the case itself, with the immediate surrounding in the underpass, the larger context of Karlsplatz or the city of Vienna. They will be textual or visual notices by authors living in different cities – to the passers-by of the Austrian capital; messages that catch the gaze and keep the mind engaged – due to their strong visual appearance and subversive content. Glossary (Detail), 2007


Glossary is a large-scale poster covering the entire wall of the display case. It is a diagram: a representational means used to visualize concepts, ideas and relations in a structured and clear way.

Its black and red colors, its spreading bunches of sharp thin red lines connecting words and figures, its circles and cubes and human silhouette seem at first sight reminiscent of pure constructivist and structuralist design.

However, when stepping closer, one has to realize that the way this loads of texts appearing on the poster and the graphic structure around it relate is not necessarily like one would expect from a diagram; the visual and cognitive net drawn by their constellation is rather perplexing. It feels as if peeping into someone’s thoughts, of someone ruminating over their work or walking through the city streets. They are free, arbitrary, inorganizable – the fragments and ideas still connected through lines of association.

First of all, most of the ideas do not get visualized: we find a film script, architectural objects, dreams described so that one has to imagine them themselves. The thin red lines connecting these texts: letters, words, excerpts, glosses, scripts, descriptions, notes or stories (it is all about form!), explain links and imply the existence of more hidden ones at the same time; their structure has reference to the phenomena described as much as to itself. The thoughts are shifting and slipping, they are jumping levels of abstraction, changing genres, substitute elements with others. The abstract notion of fusion gets compared to cooking; a cook becomes and architect who ultimately equips a flat with furniture named after flagship thinkers and creators of modernism. We read about a sleepy family morning with socks being lost in a chaotic flat and about the construction of history (of socialism) on the way toward a new establishment. It suggests the beauty of the interchangeability of things and concepts while suggests that this will not make our head any clearer. The personal and the social and political gets ultimately unified, memory and oblivion paired, the number of moments in one’s life counted and the sense of the whole lot discredited; the future told and the past forgotten – although tried hard to remember of.

So that the most that one gets when venturing into this diagram is probably thin red lines leading out of its frame while they walk away from the display case.

As the journalist ponders in one of the described film scenes: “I have this idea: Tatlin once spoke of unfinished thoughts; I am quite a bit interested in that. It seems that there may only be unfinished thoughts.

Come to think of it, nothing’s ever worked out either. In a word, there are many threads to pick up. Regarding designing architecture. Soviet constructivists built their models and some realizations from laths. The fastest way to express an architectural idea. It is, however, totally incomplete, inaccuracies…”

Hajnalka Somogyi

HAJNALKA SOMOGYI is an art historian and independent curator. Between April 2001 and June 2006, she ran the international exhibition program of the exhibition space Trafo Gallery of Trafo–House of Contemporary Arts. She is the founder of DINAMO Workshop and of Impex–Contemporary Art Provider, two independent art initiatives in Budapest. In 2006, she was a curator-inresidence at Art in General in New York City, in the framework of the residency program of CEC Artslink. In January-March 2007, she was teaching as the assistant to Cesare Pietroiusti at the Graduate Program in Visual Arts at IUAV University, Venice.

She curated numerous exhibitions in Hungary, Germany and the Netherlands, and coordinated Europe-wide institutional collaborations in the framework of Culture 2000 programme of the European Commission. Currently, she is enrolled in the Curatorial Studies Program at Bard College, NY. Her interest lies in socially and politically aware art as well as in the intersection of art and urbanism.

ZBYNùK BALADRÁN was born in Prague in 1973, studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts, and art history at the Charles University in Prague.

He is co-founder of Display, Space for Contemporary Art. In 2007 Finalist of the Jindrich Chalupecky Award for young artists, in 2006 artist-in-residence in Museums Quartier 21 in Vienna by Tranzit, in 2004 participant of Manifesta 5. His work was shown in venues such as in Apexart, New York, at Prague Biennial, in Frankfurter Kunstverein, in Galeria Nova, Zagreb, in Futura, Prague, in Brno House of Arts and in Trafo Gallery Budapest among others. He lives and works in Prague.

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Zbynek Baladran
Kurator: Hajnalka Somogyi