At first sight the idea of placing a painting that has been gathering dust in museum storage for more than fifty years and a novel that barely anyone has read for decades together in a contemporary art context seems bizarre. Such a project is strange in the current museological context of Hungary, even though the end of the 1950s, the period in which the works were created, may become topical once again because of similarities in the institutional limitation of intellectual freedom through political interference in power structures and in the reactions of intellectuals. The laying out of such parallels presents today’s audiences with a difficult task, even though appropriation, or the concept of détournement and variations on it, already have a history going back decades and are built into the toolkit of contemporary art. Ferenc Gróf, a Hungarian artist based in Paris, sought to take on this task in the Kiscell Museum of Budapest with the collaboration of the author of this text as a curator.
In unhappy times, people are likely to meditate more often on the possibility of time travel: they give more thought to the question of what they could have done differently in the past, or imagine ways of traveling to the future to escape the present. Since 2010, in the Hungarian printed press, online forums, and casual discussions, an increasing number of people have asked, in increasing wonder: “Exactly which era have we returned to?”