Petőfi‘s Corpse

Tomoya Imamura

2016 - 2017

Twenty some years ago the iron curtain dropped and there were high hopes for the future of Hungary, my mother‘s homeland and also mine, if I had to choose.

This work is called “Petőfi‘s Corpse“. It is a humble approach of describing the Hungarian present in its post-communist state, including all the symptoms that come with it. A history from the losers perspective has shaped the country‘s identity, paving the way for a nationalism which promises a golden past that nobody could possibly remember. Through a combination of documentary and staging this work tries to show the right-wings reinvention of the countrys past as it pushes forward into everyday life. Historical symbols and eastern european clichés are represented by white papermache-elements, that work as left-out or burned-out holes in the pictures.

Petőfi is the „national poet“ of the Hungarian Revolution against the Austrian Empire 1848. He was probably killed by a russian Soldier while fleeing battle, which would work against his famous call for a „heroes death“ in protection of the homeland, but his death remains a mystery to this day. The uncertainty and pathos around his death led me to the titel for this series. Another important symbol is the 1kg-loaf of bread. It is a standardized remnant of socialism, but also draws a parallel to the „body of christ“ and the religious aspects of the right-wing-movement, as well as „Petőfi‘s Corpse“ in its national sainthood.

I myself was born in Germany to a Hungarian mother and Japanese father. In the best case this grants me the necessary distance for such a work, while my Hungarian language skills and contacts provide me with the equally important access and knowledge.

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