Loophole to Happiness (Budapest)

Curated by: Maja and Reuben Fowkes 

Participating artists: Zbyněk BaladránAdam Chodzko, Petra Feriancova, Siniša Labrović, Ciprian Muresan, Csaba Nemes, Nada Prlja, Janek SimonPéter Szabó and Katarina Šević.

Prlja presented two installations Strike.

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 21.42.39

Loophole to Happiness sets out to locate and explore the freedom-enhancing loopholes that exist on the margins of repressive social systems from East European communism to global capitalism. Faced with the perfection of techniques of absorbing criticism and the systematic mobilisation of our creativity, sociability and sentiments for economic ends, the search is on for new forms of resistance to the endless pressure of production. The exhibition takes the inventive strategies of worker resistance under communism as the starting point for fresh attempts to imagine exceptions, find escape routes and evade the smooth surface of today’s neo-liberal capitalist order.

The title of the show comes from the cult book A Worker in a Worker’s State by Hungarian dissident Miklos Haraszti, which deals with the exploitative working conditions and bold acts of worker resistance he witnessed during his time at the Red Star Tractor Factory in the early 1970s. He describes the practice of making ‘homers’ – objects crafted by the worker in defiance of regulations – as an outlet for creativity and agency that disrupted the monotony of factory life and challenged the exploitative system of piece-rates. The sociable creativity involved in the making of homers can be contrasted with the post-Fordist situation, in which creative urges are siphoned back into the economic cycle and emotional energy is channelled into competitiveness at work.

The exhibition brings together works which consider the adaption of the lived environment to the demand for continuous connectivity and the economic mobilisation of human affectivity, while proposing modes, attitudes and lifestyles that liberate time for enjoyment, travel and learning. Escape routes from the rules and rationale of the contemporary social and economic order are discovered in unexpected places, from painterly evocations of social celebrations during communism, to meditations on the freedom of play in public spaces. The aspiration for happiness and self-fulfilment is contrasted with the mental pollution emanating from information overload, while other works focus on attempts to revive non-capitalistic forms of knowledge and promote uneconomic attitudes in human relations.

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 20.38.46
Strike 2010 Installation, Industrial sewing machines, T-Shirst, painted slogans as a part of Loophole to Happiness, curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes, as exhibited at Trafo gallery, Budapest

The T-shirt slogan is:

The writings on the t-shirts refer to the Black Wave cinema movement in ex-Yugoslavia in the late 1960s, – which was an expression of freedom under socialism, as well as (for myself, at least) a representation of ‘communism with the possibility of self-criticism and freedom’. With this ‘Black Communism’ slogan, I am interested in searching and finding new political/social systems.


Exhibition history:

1. Praha, Futura, Center for Contemporary Art

FUTURA, center for contemporary Art, Praha. Link to the exhibition

2. Budapest, Trafo gallery

Trafo, Budapest website link / Trafó gallery budapest PDF

3. Lodz, Muzeum SZtuki

Link to the gallery website

4. Bratislava, AMT Projects

Link to the gallery website / loophole to happiness PDF anuncament 


Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 19.22.42
Loophole to Happiness Edited by: Maja and Reuben Fowkes Published by: Translocal.org, December 2011 ISBN: 978-963-08-2491-0

About the book: Loophole to Happiness reassesses the left critique of socialism through the work of dissident theorists and artists, reviving the spirit and working methods of the neo-avant-garde to suggest contemporary routes to escape the smooth surface of capitalism.

Contributors: Zbyněk Baladrán, Franco Bifo Berardi, Adam Chodzko, Petra Feriancova, Maja & Reuben Fowkes, Miklós Haraszti, Siniša Labrović, Ciprian Muresan, Csaba Nemes, Nada Prlja, Janek Simon, Péter Szabó, Tamás St.Auby and Katarina Šević.

Link to the Book on curators website / Amazon


Bibliography and Press coverage:

Culture,pl, trafó gallery budapest, PDF / Link

Link Skvíra kartalk.cz, e štěstí ve Futuře, Foto report, by Silvie Šeborová / pdf 1

Link artycok.tv (video)

LinkDeník Referendum, Jak vypadá škvíra ke štěstí?, Johana Lomová / pdf 2

Link undo.net, Loophole to Happiness, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz  / pdf 3

Link ninateka.pl. Loophole to Happiness/Furtka do szczęścia | Muzeum Sztuki Łodź (video)

Link plasterlodzki.pl, Loophole to Happiness w ms (foto), Kinga Filińska

Link print control, Loophole to happiness, catalogue design

Link ISABART, Škvíra ke štěstí / Loophole to Happiness

Link artmap, sympozium, Reclaim Happiness: Opposing Systems (Symposium)