Tamás Waliczky: Opening speech at the exhibition of IngridMwangiRobertHutter

A heartfelt welcome to you all at the exhibition of IngridMwangiRobertHutter's works. I'm glad to be here once again at Pixel Gallery at the opening of quite a lovely exhibition. It seems a little ostentatious that I have once again been asked to give the opening words, but it also fills me with pride to have been asked. Thank you. On a side note, I would say that instead of listening to me, perhaps it would be better to ask Ingrid to sing. If someday you have the opportunity to hear her voice, don't ever miss it. It is an experience to remember.

I have known IngridMwangiRobertHutter for quite a long time. This wasn't always their name. They were two young and talented artists called Ingrid Mwangi and Robert Hutter. These two artists decided they wanted to live and work together. They even decided to have two children. These are all good and positive decisions, but don't quite fit professional expectations, if we're talking about artistic careers, that is. Supposedly, an artist is a unique and unrepeatable miracle. Artists are unique (therefore there cannot be two of them) and unrepeatable (therefore they should not have progeny). Of course this is nonsense, yet these notions have such deep-rooted power that they have the ability to destroy relationships and to fracture promising artistic careers. They even have the power to make the artists, who have broken off relationships and neglected their children, to be proud of these decisions, saying "I sacrificed everything on the sacred altar of art!"

Ingrid Mwangi and Robert Hutter decided to do things differently. Those who have worked as a pair know how difficult it is to untangle who did what and to determine who the creator of the completed work really is. Actually, it is useless and even destructive to try and untangle the threads when they make up an integrated whole. And so, Ingrid Mwangi and Robert Hutter decided to declare the existence of this integrated whole. They assumed the name IngridMwangiRobertHutter. They were no longer Ingrid Mwangi AND Robert Hutter, but one, spelled together and pronounced together as "IngridMwangiRobertHutter". This is their name together and also separately. The name of the person who came to this opening and is here with us today is IngridMwangiRobertHutter, because that person represents both as one person in one body. And the name of the person who could not be here today for technical reasons is also called IngridMwangiRobertHutter, for the same reasons. This is how they resist expectations and this is how they remain loyal to their mutual work ideal. I find this loyalty amazing. Moreover, in my opinion the essence of IngridMwangiRobertHutter's art (alright, perhaps just one essence of the many) is this loyalty.

Someone might say that this loyalty is a moral and not artistic problem. But I really like those artists who deal with moral problems, who build their art upon clear moral foundations. Of course one may argue that good art is not made solely by good people. While this is true, I rather prefer if a good artist is also a good person. Especially because this is so incredibly rare.

So back to loyalty. Loyalty to homeland and descent. This is one of the reoccurring motifs in the works of IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Several works speak about Africa, about Germany, about the relationship between white and colored people, about the cliches, problems, and fears connected to these, about the aggression born of these fears. In one of the most beautiful works at this exhibition, a white and a black person work together with slow movements on healing reopened wounds.

About a year ago, a German artist said to me: "Ingrid exploits the fact that she is African", nodding enigmatically, as if just then realizing the secret behind the success of IngridMwangiRobertHutter. This upstanding German artist could not have known that this spiteful little comment was sorely misdirected. I had heard these same words said about me - even from my own compatriots! - from people who claimed that I was exploiting the fact that I was Hungarian. I was apparently one of the showcase Hungarians in Western Europe. I've got to tell all those who think this is true: it isn't as great to be Hungarian or Kenyan in Europe as one might imagine. Furthermore, if someone chooses to undertake this role and makes her Kenyan descent one of the main questions of her works, it is a moral act; and if she is able to use this to her advantage and generate increased interest towards her work, then there is undoubtedly serious work and talent behind this.

Anna Szepesi, my enduring creative partner said to me that the greatest virtue of an exhibition's opening speech should be its brevity, and she is right. And so I will conclude my words. Please take a thorough look at the works on display and think about them, perhaps even argue with them. And if you were kind enough to come to this opening, don't miss the opportunity to speak to IngridMwangiRobertHutter personally.

Thank you for your attention.

Budapest, June 6, 2008

English translation: Nagy Ildikó Noémi