2023. Aug. 26. - 2023. Nov. 26.

Exhibition of Marcell Esterházy



“The question of time is a strange thing in the visual arts; in certain cases I can condense events that happened hundreds of years ago and that still have an impact today into a single work.”

                                                   /Esterházy Marcell/


In his 1979 book The Postmodern Condition, Jean-François Lyotard was among the first to write about the growing importance of smaller, local, and subjective narratives that, alongside absolute principles and truths. According to his view, a fundamental feature of postmodernism is the departure from grand narratives, and although today we seem to be witnessing the return of the grand récit in the face of predictions of global ecological catastrophe, the demand for diversity in political culture and competing narratives is still present: personal horizons, oral history and the multidimensional approach are also prominent in historiography and remembrance policy.

Marcell Esterházy’s artistic practice focuses on the processing of the history of the Esterházy family, which is closely linked to Hungarian and European history in many ways through the influence of the members of the aristocratic family. In his art, he typically deals with these family and found archival materials, appropriating and reinterpreting them, juxtaposing grand historical narratives and personal family stories in his poetic compositions. In this part of his oeuvre, he raises sharp questions about the knowability of the past, the motivation for perceiving, and the relationship between history and truth. By admitting the subjectivity of his point of view, Marcell Esterházy points to the multiplicity of historical interpretations and perspectives, as well as to the coexistence and possible entanglements of absolute and relative timelines.

At the closings of his previous exhibitions, Marcell Esterházy has stated more than once that he would not make any more “family-related” works. Yet TIMELINES is an exhibition of his oeuvre in which the family archive is once again in the centre, proving at the same time that family history is de facto unsealable. If something comes up, it is added to it. If a secret is revealed, it is rewritten. Back in 2005, Marcell Esterházy found a 600-piece family photo archive containing a series of negatives depicting major and minor events in the lives of Esterházy ancestors in Majk and Csákvár from 1910 to 1930. These photographs and accompanying stories have served as the starting point for many of his earlier works. In recent years, he has continued his archival work, organising the archives of his father, writer Péter Esterházy. This inventory, which was both a hereditary duty and a deeply personal work of mourning, provided further inspiration for his “family-related” works, in which personal events and major historical and literary events are reinterpreted from one side to the other through lyrical parallelism. In the spirit of historical thinking, Marcell Esterházy presents these analogies as an adaptable interpretative framework that allows the specific treatments of the events and activities he examines to be effectively applied to new situations, to help us to understand the past or present and to interpret future changes.

The uniquness of TIMELINES is that it is both a solo show and a group exhibition. The multiplicity of timelines, which is the main background material of Marcell Esterházy’s works, is presented in an extraordinary exhibition space titled “brain”, where family relics and portraits, as well as portraits by artist friends and associates of Marcell Esterházy are collected side by side in chronological order, yet on a particular emotional basis. The complex ensemble of (art) objects reflects on the intersections of 20th century global and Hungarian history, as well as on literary history and family history, and displays the process of dealing with the personal past while highlighting its compassionate attitude.


Exhibiting artist:

Marcell Esterházy

Contributing artists:

Tamás Almási / Gitta Esterházy / Gábor Gerhes / Lucien Hervé / András Király / János Megyik / Laurent Perbos / Judit Flóra Schuller


Tamás Don / Emese Mucsi

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