Redirect - the Whole Shape of the Argumentation The recent waves of tearing down of monuments exhibit desires and no longer tenable social conditions, and the intense debate related to them reveals the suffering caused by the dominant/prevailing narrative both in the present and the past. While in the Western countries the individual actions connected to monuments show the need for emancipatory changes, in the context of the Central-European populism the course of proceedings is the contrary. It has become a determining form of power communication that monuments are re-located in the historically and politically most prominent places of the city space without any social conciliation in order to re-write the past and ultimately to symbolically legitimize a new national identity. Nevertheless, if the monument is not approved socially and does not function, it can easily become the parody of the argumentation it would have been destined to represent; moreover, it could enforce social processes that do not correspond with the original intention. Consequently, the result of the plastic redirecting of the city space on political grounds is often controversial The works of Csaba Nemes evoke not only the battles and expansions that occurred recently at the apropos of monuments but also other moments of the 20th century, that are determining from this point of view on a local level. At the same time, they represent the dynamics ensuing from the transformation, re-location, substitution, re-installation, or reconstruction of monuments. These dynamics can also be described as the monuments that are „invisible" from the moment of their erection, and – again, based on the observations of Robert Musil – „repel attention", can become the projectional platform of new conceptions among new circumstances. In Nemes's works, the public monuments inducing collective memory appear as part of the personal being as well, either as figures representing the conflict between heroic visions and the everyday reality or as an encouragement for activism. In these works, the figure of both the child and the adult artist is present. However, the personal relation to monuments is represented in a different way in his new series of black and white photographs. In two connected, representative city spaces, he documents public statues and places where statues used to stand in the past. Then, he marks and covers the form or the one-time location of the statue with black and white paint. This way, he re-interprets the representative forms and their meanings with an autonomous painterly gesture that refers to the role of art and the artist. In spite of the seriousness of the topic, one important aspect of this work is playfulness and humor. In a complex and dynamic way, Nemes's works that evoke the place and history of monuments reveal the possibilities of power strategies and democratic processes, or – with the words of the artist – „the whole shape of argumentation".
Erzsébet Pilinger, Budapest, 08.09.2020