Eszter Ágnes SZABÓ

Let’s wear off the embroidery 2.0, 2020
action space

In Hungary, the history of kitchen wall embroidery began in the mid-19th century. Drawn or embroidered pictures accompanied by telling messages hanging in the kitchen provided housewives with advice and encouraged them to insight and perseverance. It began long before the billboards, commercial and political advertisements flooded the streets, whose mission is similar today, but on a much larger scale, appealing to many more people at once. Most billboards appear at the same size throughout Hungary and across Europe, the most common being 504 x 238 cm, which is 12m2 in size. As an artist engaged with embroidery among other genres, I have long been interested in the relationship between embroidered pictures and billboards, which is why I have chosen this powerful communication tool for this exhibition.

At the invitation of the Independent Department of Fine Arts, I held a workshop at the prestigious Bercsényi College at Budapest University of Technology. With the help of architecture students, we modelled how to transform a 12m2 consulting space into a real-life communication and community space where everyone has the opportunity to participate in the dialogue. The spaces designed by the architecture students can be varied in different ways and can be used for multiple functions, such as holding craft classes, say, embroidery workshops. This is not the first time I’ve been trying to create a work of art with volunteers, but in this case, I consider it even more important to turn the communication situation that a billboard represents into a real activity. The process of embroidering stitches through the fabric and thus merges with it, while printed posters touch only the surface of the paper. We can’t interfere with the printed poster, but we have to execute all the stitches of a piece of embroidery, otherwise we won’t get a perfect form. It requires great discipline, but for that reason it is meditative like a manual mantra and offers the opportunity to delve deeper into ourselves. In the exhibition space of the Ludwig Museum, we will create a community space that simulates the proportions and size of the billboard, and we will embroider our own billboard with volunteers. This work has already begun in 2018 at MODEM but has not been completed, as embroidering 12 square meters by hand is no small task and really slow so now I have the opportunity to continue it at the Ludwig Museum and hopefully finish the job.

A 12 square meter space can be a room, a kitchen, an office, a cinema, or a separate gallery in the museum, or the venue of a symposium, which can be used for holding talks and workshops. I try to take full advantage of the available space.

Candidates who are interested in participating in an artistic process are welcome again. Let there be a billboard embroidered with our own hands and about us, our lives, our cities and our country. Space in space, picture in picture, let’s reverse the message of billboards!

Eszter Ágnes Szabó