The three artists’ main concept was to problematize the characteristics of avantgarde art by raising the question in the title of their work What is Avantgardism? Can it be considered an avantgarde act that Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics and János Major exhibited a coat? As they state in the text accompanying János Major’s coat (exhibited on June 24–July 7 1973, together with other artworks by Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics, János Major), their aim was to liberate the avantgarde from its charges, as it indicated prohibitions from the beginning of its history. The coat considered as a symbol of the bureaucrat referred to the state officials, the only people who came to the Chapel in a coat. Questioning if exhibiting the coat is an avantgarde act is at the same time a concept artwork, as the coat can be considered both a readymade object and the illustration of the idea of the act of exhibiting that. Tamás Szentjóby reconstructed and exhibited the coat in 1995 at the Víziváros Gallery as his own artwork, thereby appropriating the work from his partner contributors and contextualizing the meaning of avantgarde on a new level.
(Miklós Erdély: Newspaper Cake, 3×4, Artpool, Budapest, 1993)The first realization of Miklós Erdély’s idea of the Newspaper Cake was made by Gábor Altorjay in 1967. The version in the Artpool’s collection was done on the occasion of the exhibition 3×4 in 1993 by the organizers following the original concept. Regarding Erdély’s idea in the 1960s, the “cake” is constructed of round newspaper cut-outs glued to one another and sliced up as a cake. Tamás Szentjóby referred to the cake as a dish that is “eaten by everybody every day,” interpreted as a metaphor, for “stuffing” society with information.
The film is based on a documentary novel written by Gyula Krúdy in 1931. Krúdy used the infamous story of the Jewish blood libel in Tiszaeszlár, a village in northern Hungary. A young girl, Eszter Solymosi, disappeared in the summer of 1882, and the Jewish inhabitants of the village were accused of having killed her as part of a ritual murder. The writer got material for his book by collecting information from the recollections of the lawyer who represented the Jews who had been accused and from his own memories, rooted in oral tradition, as he grew up near the scene of the events.
The basic framework of the film is the coaching given by an officer in the gendarmerie office to Móric Scharf, who gives false testimony the text of which is identical to the testimony given at the trial. We see versions of the same sequence, each fo which has shifted a little bit in comparison to the previous one as the coaching continues. The filmmaker’s radical gesture is to give the viewer an opportunity to see how the protagonist's mental process develops until it reaches the final state, in which he is able to see the crime. Erdély casted László Rajk, the son of an executed communist leader, for the part of gendarmerie officer Recsky (Rajk’s father was executed by his own communist comrades following a show trial during the period of communist terror in Hungary).
Another key component in Erdély’s film is the way in which he makes the actual materials used in the creation of the film visible. For example, the mental images are shot from the editing table, so they are grainy and obscure comparing to the other scenes. The end credits section is a kind of withdrawal of the provocative images, since the actors stop playing their parts and present themselves as real people, “as civilians,” and doing so somehow negate the fabricated story (and the images of the ritual murder) presented earlier. Upon completion in 1981, the film was banned
Produced by BBS, 1981. Banned until 1989.
Cotton-wool dipped into goose grease on standing A4 format paper. Typed text on the upper left corner: “Do not separate! Do not isolate!”
Miklós Erdély intended this work to be part of the concept collection initiated by László Beke called “Imagination/Idea,” which consisted of paper works arranged into a dossier. Erdély formulated the text with this in mind and handled the work to the collector without wrapping it. László Beke was compelled to find a solution in order to protect the other works, so after some pondering he placed the work of Erdély into a nylon folder.The utilized material has a layer of meaning beyond the concrete situation as well: the use of goose grease is a reference to spiritism, which had a materialization phenomenon—the emanation of ectoplasm from the mouth or the ear of the medium in a state of trance—was faked with cotton-wool dipped into goose grease in the 1920s. In this respect, it is interesting to note that the goose grease appears in the work in its own right, providing an example for its real and meaningful use.