This work and the Gvozden series were displayed for the first time in the salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1971. Gvozden is an invented character, a representative of the ‘guest workers’ – Yugoslavs who in the 1960s departed for temporary employment abroad, most frequently to Germany. Due to unsuccessful economic reforms, Yugoslav citizens in the mid-1960s were confronted with a rise in unemployment leading to the emigration of several hundred thousand Yugoslavs. As a result of the rapid growth of the German economy after the Second World War, West Germany needed to enlarge its labour force. In 1968, it signed an agreement with Yugoslavia. Yugoslavs, like the citizens of other nations working on a temporary basis, received ‘guest worker’ status: The Gastarbeiter agreements were aimed at low-skilled workers for jobs requiring few qualifications.Popović's Gvozden is an ordinary human being removed from his natural social and cultural environment and placed into another social context. This is an allegory of modern alienation, an individual who unwillingly travels in search of better economic conditions and a better life and on this path meets with unfamiliar and difficult circumstances. By dealing with the topic of guest workers at that time, the artist drew attention to the social problems of the post-war generation. This is an exceptional example of the critical exploration of concrete social conditions.
The documentary endeavours of the Budapest School (a tendency in Hungarian filmmaking speared in the seventies which was dominated by a sociological point of view) prevail in this documentary-feature film, which is a “development novel” about György Cséplő, an intelligent and ambitious Roma boy, whose attempt to break out of his miserable existence offers a sketch of the situation of the Roma population in Hungary in the 1970s.
The director shot his situational documentary by setting the scene but then not interfering in the sequence of events (as long as one does not consider the presence of a camera a manner of interference). Schiffer wanted to make the documentary lively and current in order to enable the viewer to participate emotionally.
One of the most interesting diagnoses of the film (which harmonizes with the research of the legendary sociologist István Kemény) is that the poorest, most vulnerable groups of society live and think in the same way, Roma and non-Roma alike, so the so-called Roma question can be approached from the perspective of social stratification, not as an issue of race.
Produced by BBS and Hunnia Studio in 1978.
“I write what I write, state publishers publish from me what they want, and I, however, publish my work as I can.” In 1974, György Konrád summarized the functioning of censorship in an interview given to the West German periodical Die Zeit. The dissident author and activist Konrád was regularly persecuted by the state authorities from the early 1970s. His works were either not published or printed only following thorough censuring. His novel, The City-Builder could be published in Hungary in 1977 only with substantial cuts and modifications forced by the censor.
Gábor Klaniczay, the young intellectual interested in counter-culture preserved one copy of Konrád’s novel. This book is unique, however: in his own copy, Klaniczay corrected by himself the parts that were cut or modified by the censor. At that time, the original texts of forbidden or censured works were shared in manuscript or homemade copies among oppositional networks. The book displayed here documents both the intention of suppressing culture and the individual act of resisting it.
One of Árpád Göncz’s first trips abroad in May 1990 as newly-elected President of the Hungarian Republic was to Indianapolis, US in order to receive a Honorary Doctorate from the Senate of Butler University. On this occasion, he first read his essay “The nameless Hungarian,” a brief historical overview of twentieth century in Hungary and East Central Europe. (The speech held at the ceremony was somewhat longer than the essay, but only the Hungarian draft survived in a later book publication, without the final English version. Here, all the three texts can be read attached.)
This somewhat “bitterly optimistic” summary reflects Göncz’s charmingly brave and honest character, his wisdom, his deep empathy, and his sense of humor, as well as his sincere conviction that all the pains, failures, and losses of a horrible century can only be surpassed by the powerful collective reserves of freedom and liberty.