Artist Spotlight: Tamás Kaszás
Born: 1976, Dunaújváros, Hungary
Lives and works in: Budapest, Hungary
Upcoming exhibition: Sci Fi Agit Prop at De Appel, Amsterdam, 27 January – 01 April 2018. Netwerk Aalst, Belgium 03 February – 01 July 2018.
Tamás Kaszás’s exhibition, Sci Fi Agit Prop, will propose an imagined future, a dystopia in which our current economic system crashes and all technology ceases to exist.
The show will propose ‘do-it-yourself’ techniques for surviving in a fictionalised society void of modern innovation. Tamás Kaszás envisions a new way of living within a post-digital, post-market, post-industrial urban context. He calls this fabricated form of future-proofing, ‘the science fiction of agitative propaganda’.
Agitative Propaganda, or Agit Prop, was initiated by the Soviet Communist Party in 1920, aimed to control and promote its ideology amongst the public. It utilised objects of mass production, modes of transport, and public spaces to disperse and popularise its political beliefs.
The term is now used to refer to any cultural manifestation with an overtly political purpose. Considering recent political events, artworks that engage audiences with the omnipresence of propaganda and the instability of democracy deserve plaudits.
Kaszás’s most recent show, Escapist Stories, at Kisterem, Budapest, developed upon his politically engaged methodology. It narrated the story of a former activist escaping from an urban environment in the hope of creating an autonomous life in the countryside. The destination of this metaphorical emigration is not an untouched, quixotic paradise but the natural peripheral areas around urban centres.
The show romanticised human sovereignty, self-sufficiency and the study of art-objects through the lens of folk science. Kaszás used cheap, recycled materials that are not susceptible to technological and social decay. We look forward to seeing many of these themes and ideas progress into the artist’s upcoming exhibition.
Installation view (2017), Tamás Kaszás, Kisterem. Image courtesy the artist and gallery.
Netwerk Aalst and De Appel
Sci Fi Agit Prop will take place at two locations in Europe: Netwerk Aalst, Belgium, and De Appel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The exhibition will connect to the diverse municipal contexts surrounding both institutions: to the gentrification of Amsterdam’s New-West area on the one hand, and to the post-industrial context of Netwerk Aalst on the other. The ordinary, commonplace aesthetic of the sculptures on view will appear deceptively utilitarian and the graphics, flyers and posters will directly appropriate Agit Prop imagery.
Thinking Global / Acting Local (diptych) (2017), Tamás Kaszás. Image courtesy the artist and Collicaligreggi Gallery.
Interestingly, many of the artist’s previous endeavours have involved botanical installations, such as Council of the Plants (2009). The artist’s attraction to nature is unmistakable, he also set up The Famine Food Project (2011-2017), which sought to generate new ways of permacultural living. However, does the organic beauty of flora and fauna have a place in Kaszás’s fictionalised dystopia of technological and societal ruin? Is the alternative reality that he displays in Sci Fi Agit Prop purely escapism, or will its inherent pessimism allude to something sinister bubbling beneath society’s surface? What is certain is that the exhibition will affect the way we perceive urban areas.
Council of the Plants (2009), Tamás Kaszás. Image courtesy the artist and the gallery.
Tamás Kaszás explores ecology, collectivity, the social constructions of cohabitation, self-determination, populism, and mythical anthropology. He blurs the lines between activism, art and ethnography. As Kaszás states, he ‘aims to have an artistic activity where there is no separation between making and doing, between artist and audience.’
Tamás Kaszás (b.1976 Dunaújváros, Hungary). In 2013, he graduated from the Doctoral School, Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, in Budapest. He has had solo exhibitions in Galleria Collicaligreggi, Catania (2017), Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon (2017), Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz (2016), Kisterem, Budapest (2016), Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (2014), Kassák Museum, Budapest (2014). His work was part of group exhibitions at Künstlerhaus KM, Graz (2017), OFF-Biennale Budapest (2017), the Bucharest Biennale 7 (2016), Marta Herford Museum, Herford (2015), and the 19th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney (2014).
Author: George Greenhill
Cover image: Hands (2016), Tamás Kaszás. Courtesy of the artist and Collicaligreggi Gallery.