Whose Nation? Reimagined National Identities

Jun 23, 2015 - Jul 30, 2015

Opening: June 24, 2015, 5pm

Participating artists: Tibor Balogh, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Keesic Douglas, Ladislava Gažiová, Greg A. Hill, Delaine Le Bas, Péter Nyári Sárkány, Jenő André Raatzsch, József Szolnoki, Camille Turner

Welcoming remarks: Lisa Helfand, Ambassador of Canada to Hungary and and Greg A. Hill, Audain Senior Curator and Head of the Department of Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Canada

"An out-of-date national story [...] alienates new communities, who want to be written into the narrative backwards as well as forward. Multiculturalism is incomplete and one-sided without a continual remaking of national identity." (Tariq Modood)

In order to be included in spaces of national self-representation, minority artists do not need to relinquish their diaspora identities. Starting out from this thesis, the exhibition addresses the idea of inclusive national identities, which gained prominence in the scholarly discourses of multiculturalism during the last one and half decades, partly influenced by postcolonial theory. This approach, advanced among others by British political theorist Bhikhu Parekh, calls for rethinking the narratives and symbols of the nation in a way that reflects the contributions of diverse ethnic groups to national histories and cultures. As Parekh writes: “'We' cannot integrate 'them' so long as 'we' remain 'we'; 'we' must be loosened up to create a new common space in which 'they' can be accommodated and become part of a newly reconstituted 'we'.”

Concepts of the nation that alienate minority groups have also been subjected to a critical examination by contemporary art. The exhibition “Whose Nation?” will show a selection of related, preexisting works from Canadian artists, alongside new ones mostly made by Roma contemporary artists from Central and Eastern Europe. Juxtaposing different geopolitical contexts is guided by the thesis that, despite the obvious historical differences, these discourses on multiculturalism bear relevance to Central and Eastern Europe as well. The understanding of national identities as ongoing, open-ended processes, drawing upon multiple roots, can be contrasted with the ethnic and cultural essentialisms behind the perceptions of the nation prevalent in the region, which exclude Roma communities from the national imaginary.

Curator: Arpad Bak

Special thanks: Michael Alstad, Júlia Baki, János Bársony, Tímea Junghaus, Anna Kádár, Eszter Krakkó, Lívia Marschall, Sherisse Mohammed, Gabriella Moise, Ágota Szilágyi-K, Camille Turner, National Széchényi Library, Textile Museum of Canada

Curatorial statement


Recommended readings

Bhabha, Homi K.: “DissemiNation: Time, Narrative, and the Margins of the Modern Nation.” Nation and Narration. Ed. Homi K. Bhabha. London: Routledge, 1990. 291-322.

Modood, Tariq: Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea. Cambridge, Polity Press, 2007.

Parekh, Bhikhu: Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Houndmills, Macmillan, 2000.

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