Art Exhibition and Performance in for the 60th Anniversary of the Romanian Communist Party in the city of Sfântu Gheorghe (1981)
For the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Romanian Communist Party, an exhibition was organized by the county’s artists. Imre Baász prepared a complex work for the occasion consisting of two parts: a performance and an installation. He designed the invitation of the exhibition in the form of a leaflet and spread it all over the town the night before the opening. Baász and his friends were soon caught by a policeman, who asked for backup and reported at headquarters that he had found people spreading manifestos in the street. They were immediately taken to the police and interrogated. The action was suspicious, but the leaflets had no subversive, hidden message. Moreover, as became clear in the course of the interrogation, they had been approved by the county’s party secretary.
This action, and especially the fact that it was carried out under the cover of darkness, upset the townspeople and the authorities as well, who tried to collect the leaflets in bags. The police wanted to gather all the copies to be able to identify and label the dissident content, but they found none, because there was nothing against the regime in the text or the graphic design. Baász feared that he might not get away with this joke, but the next day the authorities apologized for having brought him in the night before. This was a classic example of when actions really do speak louder than words, and the act was also an example of the leading idea that contemporary art is more about finding a method than it is about finding an aesthetic form. Baász agreed with the primacy of the method and implementation, and his fixed aim was to address the public via action.
The second part of the work was an installation consisting of six shirts stained with blood and hung on a rack. On the floor and around them there were two types of leaflets: old ones from the interwar period calling for fight against the government and the new ones, prepared by Baász. Comparing the two, one notices that, although the graphic structure is different, Baász kept the leading phrase of the interwar leaflet, which said “read it and pass it on.” The six white shirts symbolized moral purity, stained with the blood of the victims. In the context of the 1980s, however, the white shirt was connected more to the members of the party and the secret police. From this perspective, the installation symbolized the unethical and inhuman rule of the one-party state.
Sfantu Gheorghe, Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania
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- Lőrincz, Lili