Hungarian artist Balázs Kicsiny is renowned for his dynamic practice incorporating multiple media, including sculpture, film, performance, and painting. He is perhaps best known for his disquieting and sometimes absurdist large-scale installations, or “frozen performances,” which draw on the languages of theater, philosophy, and the visual arts. The socio-political circumstances of the Eastern Bloc during and after the Cold War, and the impact of experiencing modern culture through the filter of the Iron Curtain, also inform the work of this artist born three decades before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
During his two months as the 2011–12 Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Visiting Artist at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts in spring 2011, Kicsiny co-taught a class that examined the performative aspects of contemporary art and engaged students in fabricating some of the elements that make up his installation Killing Time. Employing sound, video, and theatrical elements, the artist sets a fantastic scene populated by four life-size cast figures wearing video cameras mounted on military helmets. A chef grips menacing cutlery, as do two veiled diners, and a fourth figure dressed as a waitress is attached to a spinning disk. Each figure is frozen within a single moment in a simultaneously familiar yet strange tableau that seems poised to erupt in violence. As in all of Kicsiny’s work, this installation evokes a provocative dichotomy of motion and stillness, referencing themes of time and its relationship to space and history.
Balázs Kicsiny: Killing Time is curated by Robert Gero, lecturer in the College & Graduate School of Art, and will be on view from January 27 through April 16, 2012. Support for the exhibition is provided by the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Art Endowment Fund, Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, and members of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
About the artist
Born in Salgótarján, Hungary, in 1958, Kicsiny attended the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied painting and mural arts and now lectures. His work has been featured in four exhibitions at the Hungarian National Gallery, in the 2005 Venice Biennale, in the 2005 Baltic Biennale, and in solo shows in New York, London, and throughout Europe. The artist has also received Hungary’s Munkácsy Award and Eötvös Scholarship as well as grants from the Art Council of England.