Andreas Fogarasi’s Kultur und Freizeit (Culture and Free Time) (2006/2007) originally consists of a series of six videos about cultural and educational centers in Budapest. Based on the tradition of nineteenth-century worker’s clubs, these began to be built throughout the city in the nineteen-fifties and were used for education, enlightenment, and distraction of the working masses. An important part of the unofficial cultural scene of the sixties, seventies, and eighties however also developed to a certain extent within these rigid structures. The general conditions of these institutions have changed radically since 1989: many had to close their doors, while others are still fighting for public support and paying visitors. The architecture of these buildings speaks of programming, the aesthetic and structural ideas of their builders and users, and asks which spaces for culture we claim, how they represent themselves, and which culture we actually mean.
Ten years after its presentation at the 52. Biennale di Venezia (where it won the Golden Lion prize for best national pavilion), Andreas Fogarasi’s project is presented in an extended form at the Csili Cultural Center. Complemented by additional film material from the time of production (2006/2007) as well as by later works that continue the artist’s interest in the changing relationships between culture, free time and spectacle, the six films are shown in Budapest for the first time since 2008. Presenting them today in the context of Off-Biennale’s Gaudiopolis program is a claim of relevance for a diverse multitude of places for culture and community, of which Csili is an outstanding and very active example. It is a place far from the center of the city that takes its peripheral location seriously and creates consistent cultural programming for (and with) local communities and guests from outside alike.