Budapest Art Factory
H-1138 Budapest, Váci út 152-156
Viruses in Hungary
by Délia Vékony
The exhibition viral castratO by American artist Joseph Nechvatal, hosted by Budapest Art Factory (on view from Sept. 8- Oct. 4) is taking place in Budapest, Hungary in times highly sensitive for symptoms viruses of any kind can possibly cause. Nechvatal’s installation, a digital work in which computer viruses consume digital paintings has a universal reference to change, chance, disturbance of order and the uncanny.
Yet, the piece can also be understood within the light of the current socio-political framework in which thousands of migrants, mostly from Syria arrive to Hungary weekly. They intend to cross the country and head to Germany and other northern countries in hope for a better future. For having any future at all, to be precise.
In spite of the hardships these people go through to arrive to Europe alive, by many they are seen as an infection on the body of the continent. Nonetheless, they are at our borders and no matter how many fences are erected, they are coming in and wanting to move on. Although the EU allocates considerable sums for dealing with the current migration crisis, there is not a consensual decision about what to do with the crowds arriving. Hungary is reluctant to claim any responsibility, but other EU countries also keep on changing their attitude. Although Europe is obviously not ready for accepting so many people looking for a new life, it is striking to see that migrants are looked upon as viruses that are here to invade the mother-body. Instead of thinking of them as change that could result in new, refreshing heterotopias, in new bodies that might be the alteration and reshaping of the old, anachronistic order, these people are seen as infectious disease, here to pollute and destroy. Surely if mother-body Europe is not learning to ‘mutate’ and adjust to this change, it shall die a painful death while resisting.
Introduced by Colleen Bell, Ambassador of the United States to Hungary
A live interview was conducted at the opening by art historian Délia Vékony
Joseph Nechvatal is a post-conceptual artist and art theoretician who employs digital means to produce paintings and animations. The centrality of his oeuvre acknowledges computer generated viruses as a creative stratagem. To address the merging of the biological and virtual, he coined the term viractual with which he extensively experiments through his work. In his paintings, the computer virus surfaces as the active agent which manipulates and corrupts the information stored in the image (the host) decreasing its integrity. On the other hand, the workings of these viral entities redefine the structure of the host, introducing novelties into the image system. Therefore their activity can be viewed as a constructive, creative process.