Agents & Amateurs

-> Underground and Political Art

Doing things with love. Not obeying expectations, neither political or market related. Being no state artist. Or the contrary: affirming to be state artists like the members of the postmodern project NSK (Neue Slowenische Kunst) in their own-created state ghostly evoking the oppressed autoritarian sub-conscious of European history. Staatskunst. Overidentification and subversive affirmation as a way of resistance, like in the case of NSK.

A for amateur. An Ausweichsmöglichkeit, a way around censorship. A possibility for artists to be independent. In Hungary the so called amateur art movement rose to great heights in the early 1970s and gave a shelter for many artists. (In the late 60s of Hungary, about 4000 amateur groups were operating in various universities, factories, schools, cooperatives, in addition, there were a few hundred more or less regular ensembles and about two dozen theatrical groups.) The state institutions were ideologically controlled, but in the amateur scene the atmosphere was more free. You didn’t have to provide a whole script before making a performance, you weren’t controlled to severely. It gave a chance to get around state control but also an alternative to academism and elitism within the cultural scene. This relative freedom also had its price. The state knew what’s going on and knew to use it for its own purposes. Many time the price of working freely was to become an agent and report about your friends etc. to the secret police. Examples from film director Gábor Bódy to singer and song-writer Gerhard Gundermann prove that even artists who did brave and souverain work, chose that path.

We in TV Free Europe find inspiration in these ways of art making. Not that we want to do amateur art. But we are also reluctant to be professional artists. Working in projective mode, self-selling, planning, working efficiently, working to get accepted by the art market, by the (at least in Hungary highly elitist) cultural scene. But what is the solution if the opposite is also not an option? If not getting accepted is also not sexy anymore? In the 70s-80s if you decided not to be a professional artist but an amateur, you had the chance of autonomy and a community. How about today? Today if you don’t work as professional artist you are a looser. The feeling of solidarity is as rare in the art scene as in our whole societies. Everybody is their own agent. No way seems to be out of this. Or is there? Is there a resistant way of making art professionally? Does „free artist” still mean something?

This folder is dedicated to these questions.

In our video performances and shows we deal a lot with being „free artists”. TVFE’s two main characters, Marie and Mari are young and fresh artists who wanna get successful and make a cool show on TV. Doing it in their clumsy non-souveraine way they are failing all the time. All the other characters (built from our own personalities and issues) are dealing with the same situation. Lady Zsazsa, the groupie who becomes a free worker of TV Free Europe; Linda, the arrogant rising star from the countryside, Dr. Purple the self-made superstar who sings with her eyes, Madame Fresh the strange transvestite who we suspect to be a secret agent, Szintia, who wants to break free and be more punk…
We wish you a good dive into the TV Free Europe cosmos and find your own answers or questions…