The Idol of Denial / Der Götze der Verdrängung
A popular scientific lecture / Ein populärwissenschaftlicher Vortrag
Video, 28 min
›When different layers of our history overlap, crystalline structures emerge that in a seemingly accidental way set patterns and places in relation to each other. Traces, spirits of past times encounter each other, they appear simultaneously like complex collages. These collages are perceived by everyone and they form our identities. (…)‹ Gergely László & Péter Rákosi.
The film The Idol of Denial was created based on such a crystalline (historical) constellation in the Hungarian town of Kecskemét. The synagogue built there right next to the town hall in the 19th century was used as a stable by SS officers and the interior was entirely destroyed. Of the 1,431 Jews who lived in Kecskemét, 1,222 died during the Second World War. At the end of the 1960s, a house of science and technology was installed in the entirely gutted building. Among the crucial sights are fifteen true-to-original plaster casts of Michelangelo’s most important statues from the largely destroyed Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.
In the former synagogue, one can now view copies of Michelangelo’s statues that are otherwise spread throughout the world: the Dying Slave from Paris, David from Florence, the Madonna from Bruges – and the famous Moses statue created in 1545 for the grave of Pope Julius II in Rome (San Pietro in Vincoli). It is the starting point of the filmic work by the Hungarian artist duo TEHNICA SCHWEIZ created for Vot ken you mach?. The sculpture of the founder of religion whom Michelangelo depicted with horns is not only one of the most prominent anti-Semitic images of art history but was also a crucial source of inspiration for Sigmund Freud’s last work Moses and Monotheism (1939).
The lecture in Hungarian is composed in the literary tradition of the Melitzah, a mosaic of fragments and sayings from the Hebrew bible, Rabbinic writings and the liturgy, and consists, in correspondence with this tradition, of quotations and cross-references. According to Freud, Moses himself was an Egyptian, he was later murdered by Israelites and this prompted the act of foundation of the subsequent religious and social order. Later on in history, a gradual ›return of what was denied‹ occurred in the establishment of the ›father religion‹. The filmic mises-en-scène in the historical synagogue of Kecskemét shaped by the interior extensions of the 1960s revolve around the ban on images and on questions related to the recurrence of cultural stereotypes and constellations, not only in present-day Hungary, and to the way they are designated and overcome.
The lecture was compiled by Zoltán Kékesi together with Tehnica Schweiz.
A German translation of the lecture is available in the video booth.
Gergely László (*1979 in Hungary) has been living and working in Berlin since 2012.
Péter Rákosi (* 1971 in Hungary) lives and works in Budapest.