The Czech Centre will reopen their art gallery, Future Museum. The first exhibition out of three for this year, Our story is better than yours is an installation by the young artist Vilmos Koter. The opening will take place on Friday the 6th, at 6 PM. The exhibition will stay open until the 6th of September.
Vilmos Koter’s solo show consists of two newly commissioned works, namely Plaything of power, a 3.5-metre-high installation, and two photos that constitute What if …? The exhibition is an extension of the artist’s practice, which is based on minimalist gestures and visual comments on the surrounding world and its current social issues. Koter was born in Miercurea Ciuc (Csíkszereda), a block minority region which is called Szeklerland (Székelyföld) or, in Romanian, Ținutul Secuiesc. Situated in the geographical centre of Romania, this is where the majority of the Székelys, also known as Szeklers (a distinct ethnic group of Hungarian people), in Romania are currently living. Coming from this part of the country, Koter uses his artwork to subtly interpret the problems of this particular region.
Plaything of power refers to the several layers which are encoded in the long-term relations between Romanians and Szeklers, and to the tension between them which is kept up by both sides. As with other nationalities such as the Scots, Welsh, Basques, Catalans, and Kurds, here too there is a wish to reach a certain autonomy which, in this case, was promised treat Union in 1918.
In order to fight for the Szekler nation, it was decided that a unifying visual symbol would be strategically necessary. A new flag was therefore recently created to represent The Szekler National Council, a political platform for the promotion of Szekler autonomy. The flag became quite popular and now hangs from the facades of hundreds of ordinary houses. From the Szeklers’ position, what they feel they are lacking is a certain independence, or the basic right of their people to be themselves. On the other side, the upsurge of fear among Romanians raises the issue of increasing separatism, even while, as the more privileged side—the side that puts constraints on the other—the Romanians refuse to include the Szekler flag, as the symbol of this ethnic group, in the context of official buildings, for example. This is a seemingly endless problem which has influenced many bloody conflicts over the centuries. How can it be solved?
The second part of the exhibition, What if …?, questions the moment when the Szekler flag was shown in the context of the massive #rezist protests that take place each night in Piața Victoriei in Bucharest. If the Szekler flag is part of the protests, then can the #rezist movement be cohesive with the Hungarian initiative? If the Szekler flag is a part of the protests, then might the allegations that Soros is supporting civil movements be interpreted as true? Why can the presence of this flag be seen as offensive in this context, while that of other national flags is not? This part of the exhibition raises questions such as these that trigger each person to answer according to their own knowledge and beliefs.
Our Story is Better Than Yours thus brings up some controversial issues that can be invisible to some, foregrounding the alterity of people living in the same place while variously experiencing the concerns of being with, within or without an ethnic minority. It may not be about looking for who is wrong and who is right, so much as looking at the story from another angle, one that enmeshes the human aspects of the situation together with an understanding of the concept of otherness.
Vilmos Koter graduated from the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca.
This event is organised by Future Museum (Czech Centre Bucharest), with the support of the Balassi Institute in Bucharest and Budweiser Budvar.
The Romania Journal supports the event as media partner.