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Placing Bookmarks

Maja and Reuben Fowkes
Placing Bookmarks: The Institutionalisation and De-Institutionalisation of Hungarian Neo-Avant-Garde and Contemporary Art
Published in Tate Papers, no.26 (2016)

In September 2013 a week-long exhibition entitled Bookmarks: Neo-Avant-Garde Art and Post-Conceptual Positions in Hungarian Art from the Sixties to the Present was organised in a rented gallery space in the centre of Budapest. As suggested by its long title, it sought to delineate a narrative of ‘historic threads’ that have played a central role in defining ‘artistic positions of Hungarian contemporary art in the 2010s’.2 Remarkably, the ambitious agenda was put together by three private galleries in anticipation of the high-profile visit of Tate’s newly established Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee – the youngest of the museum’s international councils consisting of influential collectors – which together with several museum curators made a stopover in Budapest en route to Moscow on what was their first field trip to the region. The fact that it fell to ACB, Kisterem and Vintage galleries rather than a local museum to produce this synoptic overview of Hungarian neo-avant-garde and contemporary art is indicative of the changing balance between public institutions and private initiatives both within the specific context of current Hungarian cultural politics and as a reflection of wider global trends.