KATHARINA ROTERS (1969) - JÓZSEF SZOLNOKI (1971)
"...I have always been interested in the problem of border areas. The point is that there is the inner world and the outer and there is always a separation between them where they meet. In this case it is the facade of the house, but elsewhere it could be the clothes or even the skin of the person. Interesting things always happen at the boundaries or in-between states and that's what has interested me as a researcher. And the decorations always express the spirit of the time." Katharina Roters
Katharina Roters was born in Cologne and graduated in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf; she moved to Hungary in 2003 and studied for her doctorate at the University of Pécs. József Szolnoki graduated from the Film/Television Department of the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne in 2008 and wrote his dissertation on The Phenomenology of Scraped Stone Dust at the Doctoral School of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. He is currently a lecturer at the Budapest Metropolitan University. In the video they also talk about the start of their careers:
The processing of the past, memory and identity are important themes in their art and they have worked on several related topics, whether it is about authoritarian symbols (the photo and documentary film about the Rákosi emblem still visible on the facade of the Salgótarján County House), the "forgotten" moments of the family past (Hack the Past!) or the house decorations of the Kádár era (Hungarian Cubes).
Their work Hungarian Cubes (photomontage, c-print, 2016) can be seen at the Irokéz Collection in Veszprém. It is a piece of a larger series, which was the result of almost ten years of research (from 2003 to 2012). Built in Hungarian villages from the 1960s onwards, the so-called Kádár-cube is a type of house with a floor area of about 100 square metres and unlike the earlier farmhouses its facade already faces the street front. Approximately 800,000 of this typical house type were built in Hungary. They were decorated with tiles, mirrors and patterns painted with different coloured paints and were a very common technique. The two artists started mapping the specific house facades immediately after moving to Hungary, documenting their research with photographs and nearly a thousand of them were taken during the course of their work. The photos were taken using analogue techniques, all from the same angle and later digital post-processing removed all unnecessary elements (e.g. cables, wires, columns, foliage), so that the "geometric ornamentation of the building portraits became clear signs." "Built in a relatively short period of time and with a relatively high number of facades of similar size and shape, the 'happiest barracks' created a gigantic projection screen that served as the perfect surface for the return of those oppressed in the process of culturalization. The formal language that adorned the rural panel was both vernacular and modern," the two artists wrote in the context of their exhibition of the series.
An album, Hungarian Cubes. Subversive Ornaments in Socialism has been produced to accompany the work on display and the entire series. The book won the DAM Architectural Book Award, a joint prize of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Museum of Architecture.
The two artists had a joint exhibition at the Csikász Gallery in 2017 entitled Hack the Past! Their series on cube houses was presented at acb Gallery in 2017.