Poet, performer, visual artist. Born in Budapest as Tibor Frankl, in an intellectual family. "I have documents about it. I can prove it with these, if required. However it is possible that these documents are goldbricks." - disseminated suspicion concerning his origin in his autobiography written in 1974. His poems regularly appeared already in the journal of the high school, than he started his upper level studies at the English department of ELTE in 1965. A year later, at the age of 19 he was accused with "continually comitted agitation" as the secondary defendant in the trial of the so called "downtown gang" (fabricated by the police) and sentenced to one and half years in jail. After his release he could not continue his university studies, so he took a job as a purchasing agent of a wood- and paper-industrial cooperative.
Some of his poems and essays appeared in periodicals and anthologies (1968, 1974, 1976). In this period he started to publish under the name Tibor Hajas (his collected writings released in 2005 contains 460 pages without bibliography). Paralel to this he turned to visual arts, created conceptual works (Prosthesises, 1974-76; Analysisdetonation 1-5, 1976; Tattooed slide, 1976), photo-actions (This wall does not exist, 1974; Letter to my friend to Paris, 1975; Living comics, 1975). Participated in the Chapel Studio exhibitions in Balatonboglár, the exhibiton "Exposure" in the Lajos Hatvany Museum thematizing the use of photograps in visual arts. Regularly exhibited also in the Club of Young Artists, where he was awarded in 1975 and 1976.
From the middle of the seventies he held theoretical lectures (sometimes combined with actons) on film, photography and visual arts. His collaboration with János Vető from 1974 resulted in significant body art actions, photoperformances (Flesh painting I-IV, 1978; Surface torture I-III, 1978; Image whipping I-III, 1978-79; Make up sketches, 1979), experimental film (Self-fashion show, 1976), and videos (The guest, 1977; Jewels of the night, 1978). "Beside the total activity called 'art' I am mainly interested in cigars" - phrased his orientation in his autobiography dated 1976.
From 1978 he produced high-impact performances. He is called the begetter and the most significant practicioner of the genre in Hungary. His demand toward totality menifested best in his performanes, where he often played with hazard and pain ("he shocked on visceral level, creating stress in order to let the viewer feel adrenalin in hir throat" - as a critic worded it). The performances executed with the help of assistants were carefully designed in every detail. He often operated in full darkness, with flashing magnesium to let the viewer record the moment in his memory. "I have written and published poems, and forgot them; I participated in local and international exhibitions, and forgot them; I held lectures actions and performances, and forgot them with a few exceptions" - reflected on his activities in his autobiography dated 1979.
"The freedom and complexity of raising a problem, which was the privilege of art until now, has to step into our fate: feudalism is over, art is not a sattelite and not an outspoken jester, but an undomestificably specific mode of human cognition bearing a vote in every brain, which is unseparable from the reasoned definition of freedom, the »free deployment of all human capabilities« - as he phrased in an essay on art published only twenty-five years after his death. He died in a car accident in 1980, at the age of 34. Following his death several memorial and retrospective exhibitions of his oeuvre were organized (King Stephan Museum, Székesfehérvár, 1987; Ernst Museum, Budapest, 1997; Ludwig Museum Budapest 2005). His photo tableaus were featured at the core exhibition of the 57th Venice Biennial (Viva Arte Viva, 2017).
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- Budapest, Hungary
Date of death
Author(s) of this page
- Beöthy, Balázs