Ceredi Nemzetközi Művésztelep

Wednesday 16 August 2017


This summer Cered, a picturesque village near the Hungary-Slovakia border, played host to the International Contemporary Art Symposion for the 22nd time. This art colony, organized by passionate Hungarian artists and managers, has a long tradition of fruitful co-operation between welcoming locals and artists from all over the world. In the long history of the project, visual artists, musicians, performers, writers, curators and many other creative minds have visited Cered. Thanks to the unique atmosphere and artist-friendly environment, Cered has become an important meeting point for the art professionals and has been recognized as a networking platform beyond borders. The organizers and contributors who shaped this year’s edition shared their thoughts about the recent art works and responded to the main theme of the Symposion: “Separated spaces”.

The Symposion takes place in a small village in Nógrad - a region of Northern Hungary famous for its Palóc heritage and astonishing landscapes. In fact, Cered is located in a valley surrounded by the Tatra, Matra and Bukk Mountains. Every summer, between late July and early August, this idyllic village hosts a group of artists who participate in a residency programme. As Cered population barely exceeds 1200 inhabitants, everyone knows each other here. Friendly locals are not only welcoming to the guests, but also embrace the opportunity of hosting the event and actively participate in the arts programmes. Both groups visibly benefit from the art colony. The future editions are already on the organizers’ minds.

Visiting Cered brings numerous questions, especially when it comes to the origins of the project and its launch. Here we need to introduce Csaba Furjesi, Cecilia Kun and Laszlo Santa who are the art colony’s founders and visionaries. Furjesi, a Hungarian painter and light installations creator, recalls the beginnings and the first concept of the place. It was supposed to be a meeting point for artists, who would gather to discuss art and life. When Furjesi met Cecilia and Laszlo for the first time at an art conference in 1996, they quickly realized that they shared the same dream. That year they established an association, Ceredi Nemzetközi Művésztelep, and started renting a house for their art project in Cered (previously meetings were organized in Őrség and then in the Balaton region). This was the informal atmosphere of free-spirited creation, walks through the hills and dales, bonfires and all night talks, where the art community of Cered was born.

Since then, the primary concept is still present and the core team actively puts together the new editions, invites artists, critics and curators from all over the world. This year’s edition gathered more than 30 professionals who worked on the main theme of the “Separated spaces” and compiled the results. As it’s clarified in the statement: “The focus is on the rehabilitation of a 100 years old clay house, together with the inhabitants of Cered, to create a separated space with its own function”.

Many artists keep re-visiting Cered and have become significant contributors to the art colony concept. One of these loyal participants is Eszter Palik, a Budapest-based Hungarian designer, who has been a participant of the art colony nine times as her family comes from Cered. Even though at the beginning of her career Eszter was focused on ceramics, she has switched to installations, often creating lightboxes by mixing traditional materials with the new media. Her response to the “Separated spaces” theme was based on false memories, as the artist attempted to create symbolic mementos and imitations of old souvenirs.

Tomasz Piars is another “face of Cered”, a Polish painter and curator, who visited the art colony for the third time. The artist decided to continue the idea behind his previous Cered projects. Integration with the local community, focus on the Cered youth, freedom of thought (present in brainstorming), opening up to dreams and missing solutions are invariably his favoured values, which have become a basis for a series of new paintings. Piars interviewed young citizens of Cered - Zsigmon Simon, Tamás and Martin Mikus - to collect ideas for future projects, to find something that could be used in the “separate space” project – the clay house. The results were presented in a form of collages, abstractive composition including black-white photographs and painted forms.

The number of the sympathizers and visitors of the art colony increases every year. This edition was no different as many new faces appeared. Among artists visiting the Cered residency for the first time were Michał Janowski and Manar Laham. Janowski, who is a London-based Polish painter and designer, decided to create a series of sketches and return to a simple, primitive form by using materials found locally, like clay and soil. The artist created detailed records by drawing and reconstructing the building. Although his sketches weren’t esthetic, they were strongly responsive to the current condition of the building. The natural way of creating a sign, understood as marking the existence and underlining the importance of the moment, preserving it, was a significant source of inspiration.

Manar Laham is a Syrian illustrator and graphic designer, currently living and working in Dubai. The artist decided to create a site-specific drawings inside the clay house as an answer to the “Separate spaces” concept. His work remains influenced by the local patterns and drawings of the Palóc community which are incorporated in the work exhibited in the building. Laham intentionally presented the outsider’s perspective. From a designer’s point of view the pattern seems familiar and generic, but it has some very specific characteristics of the region.

After 22 years of successful artistic collaboration the organizers hope that the project will have a bright future. At the moment colony consists of 12 houses, but Csaba Furjesi believes that this number will increase to 20 in the near future as his artist friends plan to contribute to the project’s development. At the same time, the founders are very aware of threats and difficulties that may come. As Cered is facing the same demographic issues as many other villages of the Eastern-Central Europe, the prognosis isn’t optimistic. Young people leave small villages in search for better social and economic living conditions. That might cause significant problems of a different nature. First of all the culture of the Palóc region and its unique heritage are in danger. Secondly, the services and infrastructure may worsen. In these circumstances the art colony in Cered can help to raise the prestige of the region and make Cered an important place on the culture map. The organizers dream about creating a proper infrastructure that would allow for the Cered community to be active throughout the year, to blossom not only during the summertime, and establishing their own art festival in the future.

Author: Patrycja Rup

Edited by Aleksandra Wróblewska

Photo Adam Hencz, Krnács Ágota