DREAMSTATE EGER (2011)
Little Synagogue Gallery, Eger
This project originally was intended for two installations: at the Hungarian Preparatory Academy for Judges, in Budapest (Fall 2011) which was abruptly cancelled by the authorities, and within the group exhibition, Common Thinking – Not Commonplace, in the Little Synagogue Gallery, Eger (24 October – 7 November 2011).
In this project, Peck partnered with the former Chief Justice of the Hungarian Supreme Court (1990-‐2002), the Honorable Dr. Pál Solt.
DREAMSTATE explores the events around 1989-‐90, when the separation of Law and Justice from the previous totalitarian government took place. This was one of the most important historical events in Hungarian history, as the newly established independent Constitution (the law) would be the cornerstone of this newly formed democracy.
Aside from the positive lessons to learn from this historically significant moment, the project takes on a particular timeliness following recent world events, such as the Arab Spring, and many newly forming governments searching for a model, in transition to obtain democracy with the separation of the branch of Justice from government, a politically independent Constitution, and thus, the constitutional freedoms of a democratic state.
The voice of the former Chief Justice is a respected one, and at the same time, a voice that is removed from the current debates in Hungary, and which has a vital perspective.
As an artist, Peck felt challenged (as well as having a sense of responsibility) to take on this subject matter and transform it into a vibrant visual (and all-‐encompassing) experience. In another recent project, he partnered with an environmental scientist, Ramona Lall, Ph.D., to render air pollution visual (see Atmospheric Readings, 2009, Columbia University, NY, Atmospheric Readings II, a work in progress). This partnership affirmed that subject matter that might seem to be dry and statistical could be transformed into a dynamic and exciting eye-‐opener for a variety of audiences. Rendering the subject of the law and historical change as visually compelling was a similar challenge.
In engaging with history, democratic process and the law, the subject matter is metamorphosed into a powerful visual event, which is then extended even further through its interactive aspect. While this project refers directly to the Hungarian experience and history, it is meant to function as a universal platform for the times we are living in.
The visual task of the artist is to place the subject matter (in this case, the law, and the history of political change) into a spatial configuration that will powerfully draw the viewer in. Peck comes from a background in painting, which continues to be a driving force in his work, even as he uses video and the digital world as his “palette”. The subject matter engaged is very much about our environment, our socio-‐political landscape, sustainability and beauty. All conceived and presented with light, color and the moving image, creating a powerful, visually and conceptually engaging experience.
With the added aspect of interactivity that allows the viewer to participate in the discussion on-‐site, communication and collaborative input of the public goes one step further, and to add that aspect to a site on the internet opens the discussion up to the entire world. And while the subject matter here might appear to be quite specific and localized, focusing on a particular time and place, the issues addressed are truly universal.
George Peck is a New York artist, originally from Budapest, Hungary (he left in his youth, in 1956).
This project holds personal importance for the artist, in terms of his own background. Peck began to return with regular visits in the late 1960s, primarily for family reasons, but he has stayed in touch with the culture (and the language) and the contemporary art scene over all this time.
Peck’s work has been shown with regular intervals in N.Y. and internationally. He is represented in major public collections such as: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Grey Art Gallery, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden; Karl Ernst Osthaus – Museum Der Stadt, Hagen, Germany.
Since the political changes in Hungary, he exhibited at many major museums such as: (Műcsarnok/Kunsthalle Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts Kiscelli Museum, Ernst Museum; Museum of Applied Arts Barcsay Hall at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts), private galleries (Várfok Gallery, Erika Deák Gallery), and alternative spaces (“Turkish” Bath, Folyamat Gallery, Mu–Terem Gallery) since 1995. He taught a Master Class at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1997.
Peck has kept up a circle of professional contacts and friends, in and outside the art world in Hungary.