Private labyrinths – Joint exhibition of creators living with autism and contemporary fine artists

- 3 June 2011 - 18 September 2011


Cooperation between the Hungarian National Gallery and the Mosoly Otthon Foundation

“If seen from a distance, the whole Private labyrinths project is a piece of art, a training of empathy and a practice of solidarity. Our world, the society that is more and more based on indirect communication, alienates us from each other and itself, and by dealing with autism we strive to learn more about ourselves.” (János Sugár)

The exhibition called Private labyrinths, realized by the Hungarian National Gallery and Mosoly Otthon Foundation selects from the works of some significant contemporary fine artists to match the works of autistic creators who are on the periphery of society due to their status. Being exhibited together does not call the attention for their identicalness but the correspondences and similarities to some expressive forms of contemporary art that make one wonder.

The pieces of contemporary art separating – and sometimes parallel to – the block of autistic works are reference points, which reflect the surroundings and help the viewer move along. The emphasis is on creating the possibility of a dialogue between the works that might as well lead to modulated opinions about contemporary fine art and the refining and clearing of autism’s image of stereotypes.

In case of those living with autism, “figures”, drawing sequences that are – not striving to but still – carrying an aesthetic quality, that – do not want to raise but still – move emotions, do not aim “self-expression.” They should rather be considered as documents of a search for rules, a quest to arrange the world with the greatest possible consistency. Instability of things – “the embarrassing interacting mixture of people, places, sounds and visions” – is “neutralized” by the power of defined, repetitive details. This “strategy of life” – fighting against feeling lost, distressed and helplessness for stability and safe guidelines – is part of “our” lives as well. And what is more, it seems to gain more and more attention – via writings and films dealing with autism. As if the world – accelerated and more and more incalculable due to the boom of information and the constant urge of renewal characterizing the consumer society – could face its own problems and fears apropos of autism.

The autistics are generally characterized by the remorselessly accurate and high-capacity memories, and the inability of generalization and abstraction. Although theses characteristics result in a way of thinking and information management significantly different from “ours”, some other characteristics of autism can evoke the rituals of our everyday lives, the quest for a shelter in artistic activities: the life-project managed by repetitive actions. Beyond the wish for a controllable world, it raises general questions related to the creative process of fine arts, such as those of the conditions of individual style, the connection between colors and emotions, part and whole, the multiplication of motifs and usage of space, as well as the relation to reality itself and the different rates and methods of abstraction.

The exhibition realized by the Hungarian National Gallery and Mosoly Otthon Foundation is the most recent step in a nearly four-year process, which had such episodes as Fogadj be! (Admit Me!) auctions in Műcsarnok (2008, 2010) organized to support residential homes for the autistic or the exhibition called A konkrét birodalma (The Empire of Tangibility) which showed artworks by adults living with autism. The curators of the exhibition are Hajnalka Tarr, fine artist and László Százados, art historian (HNG). Zsófia Sepsey art historian (HNG) takes part in the arrangement of the exhibition and the organization of the accompanying events.

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