Szabolcs KissPál

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perception, reality
Visual Arts (installation art, video art)
Europe, Eastern
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December 17, 2007
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Coincidence of two worlds

What is reality? What can it be, and to what extent can we trust sensations influenced and steered by multimedia? In search of answers the Hungarian artist Szabolcs KissPál playfully arranges experimental models which are impressive in their perfection and both cool and poetic. They combine attractively low and high technology with objects or actions, which are cautiously and subtly emotional and at first look like technical games. KissPál often refers through his works to technology or the history of culture.
This is true of ´L´autre Monde´ (1998), a work, which consistently undermines the viewer’s expectations. Here, KissPál uses ´found´ Super-8 material showing images of a summery flower-garden and of a woman with a background of atmospheric music for piano and orchestra. But the film is damaged and the harmonic sequences are punctuated by salvoes of apparent machine-gun fire with increasing frequency. Only at the end do viewers realize that the sounds are not due to the imagined horror scenario: the sounds stem from the rat-tat-tat of a sewing-machine. Finally, the images on the one hand and the sounds on the other converge, as the sewing-machine is shown drilling holes in the film.

At the same time, the title ´L´autre Monde´ is a pun on the name of the poet Lautréamont (actually Isidore Ducasse, 1846-1870) who had fondly imagined a fortuitous meeting of a sewing-machine with a brolly on an operating table – a notion which had later appealed to surrealists. Likewise ´L´autre Monde´ shows the poetry of a non-fortuitous meeting of a sewing-machine with a film-reel.

Indeed, a chance meeting in the Central Graveyard in Vienna led to the video ´Shards of Glass´ (2003) – an exception when it comes to KissPáls otherwise form- and subject-wise perfectly arranged works. While looking for the grave of the physicist and philosopher Boltzmann in the Jewish part of the graveyard, he came across a stag. The artist and the stag, confronted with the unexpected situation, were startled to see each other. KissPál tracked the animal with his camera, till it vanished like the magic stag Csodarszavas of the Hungarian folk legend. Only after leaving the graveyard did it occur to him that it was the 65th anniversary of the Crystal Night in Germany. He later augmented the video with extracts about the wondrous stag.

The video-work ´The Dance´ (2001) shows takes of two dancers for an historical film. What primarily presents an intimate meeting of a man with a woman turns out to involve a whole group. The dance-partners do not dance with each other but are bound up in technicalities involving the camera. Not only the actors but the whole film-team has to follow the music. The work shows the great role of technicalities in filmmaking and that a film is the result of meticulous teamwork. It also shows how films manipulate viewers who voluntarily believe in the acting and tend to take it at face-value. Viewers of ´The Dance´ can decide for themselves whether they wish to melt into the music and to experience the work as a dance or whether they wish to heed the technicalities and to view this and other films more critically.

In the installation ´Siliconvalse´ (2001), KissPál startles viewers by displaying perfect duplicates. For instance, he shows two candles whose wax seems to have run down exactly the same way and whose wicks have burnt down to the same extent. One of the candles must be a copy, or are both based on a real or a virtual prototype? What could be the point of cloning something that is used or abused? The result is paradoxical, since the point of duplication is mostly to reproduce the outstanding, not the banal, but in KissPál’s installation there are not only burnt-down candles but also identically broken window-panes and flower-pots. The title ´Siliconvalse´ refers to the romanticism of waltzes; as if these candles had been spun off by a Viennese ballroom. On the other hand the word ´silicon´, with its sense of the artificial, brings us back to reality with a slap on the face, since silicon is used not only in the context of beauty operations and insulating material – but also as a multi-purpose material for moulds which allow the making of perfect copies.

KissPál ´s works are about doublings and dualities, positives and negatives, the two appearances of one object. Among them is the complex and multi-layered work ´Rever´, part of a series installations, which KissPál exhibited in Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Moldavia, Rumania, Finland and the Netherlands. The ‘Rever’ installation has a gallery-room and a flag outside which is projected into the room. The flags recall the respective national flags but are somehow disconcerting. Only the negative projections into the rooms reveal them in their customary hues but at the cost of inverting their surroundings. This process is used by KissPál in installations, videos and photographs and is applied to flags, balls and traffic-lights, which he uses as objects in his study of human perception. KissPál´s work poses questions regarding the possibilities of perception.
Author: Petra Stegmann


KissPál was born in 1967 in Marosvásárhely in Romania and from 1986 to 1992 attended the Academy of Visual Art in Cluj. From 1993 to 1994 he studied painting then from 1997 to 1998 intermedia at the Academy of Visual Arts in Budapest, where he completed his studies in 2001 and is still living and working.

DLA doctorship Budapest
Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest (postgradual), Dpt of Intermedia
Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest (postgradual), Dpt of Painting
Academy of Visual Arts, Cluj, Rumania, MA degree 1986-1992, Academy of Visual Arts, Cluj, Romania


Screenings (Selection)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 Artissima 12/Galerie van Gelder, Turin, Italy 2004 Taste Vienna, Austria Kunst-En-Passant, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria The Oneminutes Salto TV, Amsterdam Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts, Beyrouth, Libanon Cubacine 2004, Cuba 2003 Videobrasil XVI., Sao Paolo, Brasil A+A Gallery Venice, Italy IntVs03 Vaasa, Finland Odeon Art, Budapest , Hungary Emergeandsee, Budapest, Hungary Trafó, London, Curzon Soho Cinema, United Kingdom 2002 Video 20xx Deak Erika Gallery, Budapest, Hungary 2001 Csomópont Project, Budapest, Hungary Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France 2000 TRANSMEDIA 2000, Toronto, Canada 2000 Trampoline 2000, Nottingham, United Kingdom L´imagine leggera IV., Palermo, Italy CJC Paris, France 1999 EMAF ´99, Osnabrück, Germany Champ Libre, Montreal, Canada Hull Screen, United kingdom

Group Exhibitions (Selection)

Exhibition / Installation
2006 Regardless of the Weather, Karton Galéria & Museum, Budapest, Hungary Re_dis_trans; Voltage of Relocation and Displacement, Apex Art, New York, USA 2005 Directors Lounge, Club el Cultrún, Berlin, Germany Kunst en Passant, Collegium Hungaricum Vienna, Austria Longtime, Trafó Gallery Budapest, Hungary 18th Stuttgarter Filmwinter Exhibition, Stuttgart, Germany Gage Festival HAL, Hull, United Kingdom 2004 3rd Seoul Biennial, South Korea Travelling Without Moving, W139, Amsterdam To Far, Too Close, IG Bildende Kunst, Vienna, Austria Freedom Borders, Galerie Van Gelder, Amsterdam EU Positive, Akademie der Kunste Berlin, Germany Nam June Paik Award show, Hartware Dortmund, Germany Softmanipulations, Budapest Galéria, Hungary Revolutions Reloaded, Artra Milano, Italy Play, Gallery Berlin, Germany 2003 Softmanipulations, Atelierraum Martin Vesely, Vienna, Austria Poesis, Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary ID Vaasa, Finland Prague Biennial, Tsjechië Unnoccupied Territories, K&S Gallery Berlin (contribution), Germany 2002 Vision, Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary Unstable Narratives, HartwareKunstverein Dortmund, Germany On my way to Timbuctoo, IFA, Berlin, Bonn, Germany KMKK (with Julien Maire), Budapest, Hungary 2001 Mind The Gap, Studio Gallery Budapest, Hungary Klima, Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary Context - 49, Venice Biennial Romanian Pavillon, Italy The unique way of reading, Artpool Gallery Budapest, Hungary 14. Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgart, Germany Media Model, Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary Unplugged, Marosvásárhely, Romania "Mimi...", Trafó Contemporary Art House Budapest, Hungary Alapzaj 7, Dunaújváros, Hungary Kurskurrektur-Qualitätsicherung (with G. Winter) , Staadtbucherei + IFA Stuttgart, Germany Solitude in Museum (K. Sander), Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany, Musee d`Art Moderne de Saint Etienne, France Medzi International Media Festival, Skalica, Slovakia 2000 Intermedia/Inventions/Innovations, Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary ´New Topics´, Kunstverein Neuhausen, Stuttgart, Germany 1999 Break 21 International Festival of Young Independent Artists, Ljubljana, Slovenia Perspective,Kunsthalle Budapest, Hungary 1998 ROOT Festival, HTBA Hull, United Kingdom 1997 Drug, Bartók 32 Gallery Budapest, Hungary 1993 Ex Oriente Lux, SCCA ,Bucharest, Romania 1991 State whithout title, Timisoara, Romania 1989 First Triennal of Graphic Art, Vaasa, Finland 1989 "Atelier 35", Marosvásárhely, Romania

Solo Exhibitions (Selection)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 ´Backlit gaps´, Galerie van Gelder, Amsterdam, Netherlands Liget Gallery, Budapest 2004 KvadraT Gallery, St. Petersburg, Russia Gallery By Night, Studio Gallery Budapest (with Beate Ratmayr), Hungary 2003 Gastateliers KulturKontakt Austria, Vienna, Austria Vár Gallery, Duett Marosvásárhely Romania 2002 Közelítés Gallery, Pécs, Hungary 2001 Óbudai Társaskör Galéria Budapest, Hungary French Institute Budapest, Hungary 1999 Artec London, MAMU Gallery Budapest, Hungary PPP Project, Budapest Hungary MAMU Galéria Budapest, Hungary Stúdió Gallery, Budapest, Hungary 1998 ROOT festival, Hull, United Kingdom 1992-1995 My roads, 3 year lasting performance 1992 Museum of Art Cluj, Romania Museum of Donations Cluj Romania 1991 ´Pseudo-reproduction´ performance Cluj Romania 1983 Apolló Gallery (with Pál Szacsva Y), Marosvásárhely, Romania


Nomination for Nam June Paik Award
KulturKontakt Austria, residency
Henkel Youth Artist Prize
SY stipendium, Nykarleby, Finland
Association of Young Hungarian Artists´s yearly prize
London-Budapest exchange programme
NOVACOM Contemporary Art Prize, Hungary
Hungarian Academy of Rome, residency, Italy
EMARE residency ARTEC, London, United Kingdom
SUBOTNIC Stipendium, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Ukio Camera Systems, Germany
EMARE residency HTBA, Hull, United Kingdom


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Europe Now | Europe Next

(01 August 06 - 31 July 07)