Chimera-Project: Intolerable Image

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Opening: 23 January, 2014., 19:00
On view: until 20 February
Location: Chimera-Project, 1172, Klauzál tér 5.

Artist: Kerekes Péter János
Curators: Gadó Flóra | Heszky András
Chimera-Project : Patrick Urwyler | Bogi Mittich

The intolerable image

Chimera-Project’s first exhibition in 2014, entitled «The Intolerable image» will present new works by Kerekes Péter János.
The exhibition is realized in collaboration with the two curators Gadó Flóra and Heszky András.

The concept of the exhibition is based on Jacquies Rancière’s term ‘intolerable image’ that he elaborated in his book (The Emancipated Spectator) and that examines a complex phenomenon of reception aesthetics. The ‘intolerable image’ refers to an image-theoretical problem: it denotes images that depict tragedy, disturbing scenes and unsettled situations that are hard to grasp. In his popular analysis, Ranciére introduces and examines the term through the works of Claude Lanzmann, Alfredo Jaar and Rithy Phan. As Rancière points out, the main question these distressing scenes (pictures of war, dying people) evoke is how the spectator meets these events; in which relationship he is engaged with the scene. The main problem, Rancière suggests, is that when we simply observe tragical scenes, we are applying fixed patterns and social roles: we approve the dichotomy of the active viewer and the passive victims who are incapable of returning the gaze we direct to them. The question is therefore, how we could redistribute the components of representation with artistic interventions so that we could be able to experience the tragedy and the reality of the represented scenes without the naivety of shocking mechanisms and reproducing the suffering and vulnerability of victims and the power of gaze.

So in his essay as in his book, Sándor Hornyik is also dealing with the representation of terror and he is referring to the theories of Rancière and Guy Debord regarding the phenomenon of the ‘spectacle’. However, Hornyik – unlike the French philosopher who analyzed only photograph-based works – is also dealing with paintings (e.g. works by Ákos Birkás and Gerhard Richter). Considering Hornyik’s analysis on the topic, we would like to point out that despite having been inspirative to us, Rancière’s idea on image and terror is only one of several other contributions and research on this theme and cannot be viewed as the ultimate solution to this sophisticated issue.

Another crucial source that motivated us to design the concept of the exhibition is the infamous photo of a man who was pushed on to the tracks in the New York City subway and killed by a train in December 2012. On the photo we witness the moment when the victim (Ki Suk Han) is trying to climb up to the platform while the train in the background is already approaching. According to the freelance photographer, Umar Abbasi, his intention with taking the photo was to alert the driver with his camera-flash. The following day, the New York Post published the photo on front page with the caption: ‘This man is about to die’. In November 2013 on Blaha Lujza tér, Budapest, a man fell out from his hotel room and died. The reaction to the tragedy by the passerbys and the cynical behavior of the witnesses in Budapest were similar to that of passengers at the incident in New York. Both cases raise the same questions regarding our attitude towards victims and both of them show the actuality and reality of these problems. Therefore, it was important for us to examine the infamous photos of Lyle Owerko and Richard Drew who captured the falling people at 9/11. Our concept led us to investigate on how these photos should be perceived by the viewer. The paintings, installations and videos on display represent a selected group of works that are engaged with this question.

Péter János Kerekes graduated as painter and fine art-teacher in 2012 at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest. His works created for the exhibitions as conceptual pieces are artistic suggestions for re-defining the practice of viewing images. In their modest, clean manner, sometimes through image-modifications the four installations – that are mostly based on mainstream 9/11 photographs and footages –are looking for answer to the question how we should relate to these ‘intolerable images’. The exhibitions can also be considered as an experimental project in which the artist and the curators are pursuing means to be able to relate to tragedies, to restructure the relations of visible and invisible and to arouse the idea of the shocking banality of tragic.

Accompanying the art in the exhibition space, a small collection of books and catalogues are provided for the visitors to show theoretical and artistic documentations on the huge topic this exhibition is also engaged with.