Rehabilitation Committee of the Cabinet
Ministry of Culture
1 8 8 4
18 April 1990
Dear Rehabilitation Committee,
It would be hard to find anything in the last twenty years of my life that was not determined by the actions of “cultural security”, which included being reported, my exhibitions being banned, my phone conversations tapped, my post opened, the repeated breach of my privacy by authorities such as the Property and Asset Management Company), the Fire Protection Police and the Property Manager, the cancellation of graphic art commissions (my only source of income!) by party secretaries interceding at the companies I received commissions from. (The – obviously – not direct but highly insinuating documents of such acts as well as my own notes taken at the time and a large number of cassette recordings of my phone conversations are available to all those interested.)
It is obviously difficult to determine the damage – besides the financial hardships I had to suffer – that resulted in my artistic career from the distinctive attention devoted to me by the Ministry of the Interior; however, it requires no special skills for anyone to see that after László Szabó’s article “Happening in the Crypt” published in Népszabadság [People’s Freedom – a daily paper] no one would have had the courage and opportunity to exhibit my works, include them in selections displayed abroad, and write a book or a study about me. And for the memory of me being banned not to fade into oblivion, any form of cooperation with me specifically was deemed undesirable at the ‘orientation’ held for the employees of the cultural sector by deputy minister Dezső Tóth in autumn 1984 at the Leisure Centre on Almássy Square. (To illustrate this: the Ministry of the Interior was so watchful that it even managed to achieve measures such as the removal of the large-scale statue I made in 1979 at the Symposium of Dunaújváros, which – approved by all competent organs – was to be erected at the entrance of the town; it took several years of administrative hassle before my work was erected in an out-of-the-way location of the Danube band in 1982. (After the hearing of the delegate sent by the Ministry of the Interior, the town’s party committee made the decision in my case.)
All these tribulations can be traced back to the Chapel Exhibitions in Balatonboglár, and it is in connection with this specifically that I want to receive some form of compensation.
I signed a 15-year lease with the Catholic Church in 1968 for the former Körmendy chapel in Balatonboglár for the premises to be used as a studio. The cultural policy controlled by the Ministry of the Interior at the time not only disapproved of my activity but even laid eyes on my idea and in order to execute its vile plan it stopped at nothing to make my project impossible: the police, the Medical Officer, the fire protection police, the building authority, the State Insurance Company as well as the local and county Council all joined forces to achieve the termination of the exhibitions and art events organised there. After they achieved their goal, they contacted the Catholic Church and told them to sue me based on the ‘evidence’ acquired by the police with the aim of stopping the lease with them, which only I had the legal right to terminate. Since no solicitor could be found in 1973 who would have dared take my case on against the establishment, in order to avoid a trial that I was doomed to lose, I voluntarily terminated the lease.
The local council then rented the chapel for 25 years, and stealing not only my concept but also the name, it re-opened the Chapel Exhibitions in Balatonboglár in 1974 and has been operating it to the present day, although its insignificancy is glaringly obvious when compared to the exhibitions of art historical value once organised there by me.
Since my moral prosecution resulting from László Szabó’s article (Népszabadság, 16 December 1973, cultural supplement of the Sunday issue) was given wide publicity, I am asking for the publication of a text signed by the cultural leadership, which will be given the same level of publicity, in which the facts as well as their political and cultural policy background were revealed. I also believe it would be justified for the cultural leadership to compensate me by providing the opportunity (by granting financial or other support) for me to create an art space conceived in the spirit akin to that of the Chapel Exhibitions in Balatonboglár that I once organised, which has still not yet been matched by any other in Hungary and the demand for which is obvious based on the vast success it enjoyed in the past.
I do not know to what depth the Rehabilitation Committee wishes to study the documents (at least 100 documents, etc.) that support justification for my claim, so please find attached only a few of the materials connected to the Chapel Exhibitions by way of an illustration; the entire collection can – if at all – be found in the archives of the Police Headquarters of Somogy County.
Should you need more detailed information in regard to the above, I am happy to assist the Committee.
(1277 Budapest, PO Box 52)