[artinfo] (fwd) Groups/Spaces in Budapest: Trafo and Dinamo

Janos Sugar sj at c3.hu
Fri Jun 24 13:05:02 CEST 2005

>From: ugly <contact at commonplacesproject.org>
>additional images and text at http://www.commonplacesproject.org/blog
>Groups/Spaces in Budapest: Trafo and Dinamo
>Trafo House of Contemporary Art - Liliom Utca 41, 9th District, Budapest
>Dinamo - Tuzoltó street 22, 9th district, Budapest
>Trafo House of Contemporary Art in Budapest 
>(www.trafo.hu) occupies an intriguing position 
>in the landscape of cultural institutions in 
>Hungary. At one end of the spectrum are the 
>newly enlarged and consolidated giant public 
>institutions (the Ludwigmuzeum or Kunsthalle, 
>for instance, the big-boys of Hungarian cultural 
>edifices, organized architecturally in the new 
>Palace of the Arts complex). At the other are 
>the various alternative cultural spaces, 
>artist-run galleries and (private or commercial) 
>galleries. Trafo is big enough as a cultural 
>institution to demand serious support from the 
>various governmental agencies, yet small enough 
>to not be beholden to "official" culture. The 
>focus here is on contemporary and (at times) 
>experimental forms of practice in theater, 
>dance, music and the arts. Trafo has exhibition, 
>performance and production spaces,  runs 
>programs that include training studios and 
>workshops and is very active in developing 
>international programs - involving foreign 
>artists in Budapest as well and Hungarian 
>artists abroad. And, of course, Trafo can afford 
>to pay its staff.
>Most intriguing from our perspective was Dinamo 
>(www.dinamo.hu), a space maintained by Trafo 
>quasi-formally and through limited patronage, 
>and located adjacent to it. Dinamo however is 
>neither an alternative space nor actually part 
>of Trafo institutionally - the fortunate 
>position of this space (we feel it more than 
>than a space, it is a project) is that Trafo 
>pays the rent, while not officially running the 
>programming. Katarina Sevic and Hajnalka Somogyi 
>(curator of Art at Trafo) run this space, which 
>"serves as a gathering place for the new 
>generation of creative people (not essentially 
>visual artists) where they can organize events, 
>lectures, screenings, series of programs, 
>one-night shows etc" (Somogyi). Dinamo is 
>occasionally referred to (by its keepers, 
>participants, and friends) as a studio, 
>workshop, laboratory, autonomous cultural zone, 
>think-tank, hub, attitude, hang-out, while its 
>official mission is "a space for work, 
>presentation, experiments in the field of art, 
>culture and communication, outside the 
>established realm of art practice. " What 
>happens here is both inside and outside of the 
>establishment; a potentially dangerous game 
>turned playful by Sevic and Somogyi. This has 
>allowed them creative risk-taking while at the 
>same time giving the space more visibility and 
>credibility as a project.
>Dinamo is proof that one need not have an 
>institutional infrastructure, a solid budget or 
>even clean walls to become an important and 
>influential cultural space (though patronage 
>helps). The delicate negotiation of its becoming 
>is an acknowledgement of continuous flux: it is 
>not built on aspirations for longevity, not on a 
>fixed notion of what, indeed, the (social and 
>physical) space itself actually is. The physical 
>space of the room as well as the social space it 
>activates are far from the clean surfaces, clean 
>identities, clean politics of more institutional 
>settings. The walls are rough and far from 
>white, the carpet is uneven, stairs lead to 
>nowhere but act, instead, as storage for a 
>surprising assortment of furniture parts, lamps, 
>pillows and unassembled cabinetry. Everywhere 
>you see residue of former projects: signs 
>painted by little kids, posters and cards from 
>previous shows, holes in the walls, bunches of 
>tape, cloth covers, the signs and smells of a 
>well-lived  in, well-used environment. Each new 
>presence responds to, builds upon all those 
>before it - it is not necessarily a harmonious, 
>pretty picture. Nor is the social environment 
>(that other, less physically bound aspect of 
>what Dinamo is) necessarily homogenous. The 
>Dinamo-ees (caretakers, visitors, collaborators, 
>participants) range in occupation, age and 
>political affiliation - from established artists 
>to young anarchists, Hungarian and foreign 
>alike. It is rough, fresh, and it smells a whole 
>lot like what autonomous collectivity might very 
>well be.
>In its initial year (2003-2004), the programming 
>was fairly tightly organized, with calls for 
>entries from local artists. Very quickly 
>however, a self-organized dynamic lead to a more 
>organic way of programming. Projects became 
>initiated from many different sources, 
>intersecting in the physical space of Dinamo at 
>times for a month, at times for just an evening, 
>with Sevic and Somogyi as main channels, keepers 
>of the schedule, hosts - themselves not one, but 
>two, gravitational presences. Because there is 
>less of a centralized organization, Dinamo may 
>not have an official profile in the sense of 
>more institutional spaces; it seems, however, to 
>attract a public, projects and events through 
>osmosis - once established, the space is 
>well-known and attended by a group of loyal 
>followers who heavily utilize and understand its 
>unique character as a promoter of 
>interdisciplinary and collaborative production, 
>with the relationship between cultural practice 
>and public space seemingly at the  heart of the 

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