The Little Melting Pot
audio walk and a flag in public space
with: Judit Böröcz

The Little Melting Pot, OFF-Biennale Budapest, INHALE!, 2021

Rape of Europe and other origin myths, Museum of Modern Art, Bródno Sculpture Park,
    Warsaw, 2019
New Dictionary of Old Ideas, MeetFactory, Prague, 2018

Collaborating partners: Orsolya Barna, Kristóf Kelemen, Miklós Zsámboki
Performers (HU): Katalin Homonnai, Iringó Réti, Judit Böröcz, Luca Kövécs, Virág Lődi, Tünde Mészáros, Judit Flóra Schuller
Performers (EN): Faye Bradbrook, Kata Sarbó, Orsolya Balogh, Anna Bentley, Katalin Erdődi, Judit Flóra Schuller, Tímea Sipos
Music: Nikolai Galen (The Pastoral Symphony: 2nd Movement, take 2, mix 1), Bence Kovács-Vajda (Surface Drainage), Tijana Stanković (Solo at Jazzire 2019), Máté Szigeti (Slow and Loud, Second Movement - Beethoven)
Sound: Bence Kovács-Vajda, Ákos Zságer-Varga
Translation: Anna Bentley (EN)
Photo, video, flag realization: Sári Ember
Textile dyeing (flag): Nikoletta Szakács
Education: Virág Lődi, Laura Szári, János Róbert Orsós (consultant)
Advisor (text): János Róbert Orsós
Copy editor: Károly Tóth
Production assistant: Zsuzsa Valtinyi
Special thanks: Gábor Balázs, Domokos Borbás, Réka Böröcz, Gábor Egry, Kristóf Kelemen, Marcell Lőrincz, Aliz Mátyus, András Mink, Ráhel Monory, StudioMajor, OFF-Biennale team, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts
Sponsors: OFF-Biennale Budapest, Summa Artium
Realized in the framework of OFF-Biennale Budapest, Inhale!

Sound Walk
“Our revolution has pursued three fundamental ideals […] The first ideal is setting the form of government right. […] The second ideal is to grant individual rights [...]. The third great fundamental ideal is the unrestrained evolution of national and ethnic minorities. All ethnicities should be granted the right of unrestrained national evolution,” phrased Hungarian Prime Minister Bertalan Szemere at the last revolutionary national assembly of July 28, 1849. However, ethnic minorities were never granted equal rights and the community of fraternal nations never came to life; the grievances and grudges between ethnic minorities have carried on to this day in public discourse and in politics.

The soundwalk is designed for the individual listener-walker. In it, layers of historical and present-day nationalism unfold through lesser known 19th century stories and contemporary texts embedded in soundscapes. The Little Melting Pot examines the modern concept of nation as well as different multinationalist nationalisms that formed part of the discourse on nation at the birth of nationalism as such and that acknowledged and accepted individual rights, but were subdued by the ethnicist approach already in the 19thcentury. In the meantime, our project also questions the exclusiveness of the ideas that serve as primary reference in the justification of national identities across the Central and Eastern European region. An idea cannot fail definitively while there are still people to recall it.

In the Hungarian War of Independence of 1848-1849 forty percent of the troops fighting for independence of the Kingdom of Hungary had different mother tongues than Hungarian.
Hungarian, Jeewish, Roma, Romanian, Serb, Slovak and many more nationalities and groups fought together.
This flag, that models upon its 19th century counterparts, commemorates the alliance of the sibling nations for the common homeland.

The colours of the flag are derived from the national colours of the nationalities that lived in the Hungarian Kingdom in the 19th century and they form new combinations as the blue, green, red and yellow triangles border the edges of the flag.
The textiles were dyed by textile artist Niki Szakács using only native plants of Central Europe. Some of these plants have lived here before humans appeared while others were introduced to the local flora by humans. The red of dyer's madder, the blue of privet, the yellow of goldenrods and the green of buckthorn are different from the bright colours of the flags dyed with imported plant-based or synthetic dyes. These are the region’s colours.

On one side of the flag you can read a quotation by István Széchenyi: ONLY THE HOMELAND OF THE RIGHTEOUS WILL THRIVE. We found this sentence thought-provoking and thought it had a potential to engage in dialogue with the viewer in public space. What constitutes righteousness that is for the good of a homeland, country or society and that is indispensable for advancement? Is it possible to find common ground and cooperate if we have different concepts of fairness? What does thriving refer to? The economy, people, land, knowledge, wellbeing? Which reading of advancement or growth is positive?

On the other side are a laurel and a palm branch tied together by a ribbon at the stem, the only elements we kept from the typical 1849 military flag, that displayed these plants on two sides of the coat of arms.

The project embarks on a subversive criticism of today’s nationalist tendencies by scrutinizing nationalism and the construction of national origin stories across Eastern Europe in the Romantic period. We reveal the era’s lesser-known polyglot and multiethnic concepts of nationalism and revise the region’s national origin stories and myths.

To collect materials for the project, we organized two workshops. We asked the participants to tell us the origin myth that they heard of and make tiny sculptures. Together we tried to reinterpret, actualize, or criticize these myths. During the conversation, we sculpted the protagonist out of wax. And later on, we cast it out of metal, with the same lost-wax casting technique as the public statues are made. Together we started to make a pluralist monument.