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False Testimony - Hajnal Németh and Zoltán Kékesi

Museums/Institutes Jewish Historical Museum

Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1
1011 PL Amsterdam
+31 (0) 20 5310310

Open Daily / 11-17 hrs

Exhibition 31 May — 24 Sep


Hajnal Németh, False Testimony

The exhibition False Testimony by the artist Hajnal Németh (1972) and writer and cultural reseacher Zoltán Kékesi (1976) deals with the Tiszaeszlár Trial, which took place in 1883 in the Hungarian village of the same name, in which Jews were falsely accused of the murder of a Christian girl, Eszter Solymosi.

Despite the fact that the innocence of the fourteen suspected Jewish men was proven conclusively, the trial stands as a symbol of the dawn of modern anti-Semitism in Hungary. The case has become a current theme in the fine art iterations.  It embodies the dilemmas of Hungarian post-Holocaust Jewish identity: assimilation,  remembrance and oblivion.

The central piece of the installation refers to an experimental film Version about the Tiszaeszlár affair made by Miklós Erdély in 1981. Erdély (1928-1986) was an influential Hungarian architect, artist, theorist and filmmaker. Like in Version, Németh, re-enacts one of the key scenes of the trial, the rehearsed confession of the 13-year-old witness, Móric Scharf.  The scene casts light on Móric’s opposition to his father, who was one of the accused men, and thereby on his denial of his own Judaism.

The false testimony to which the title refers stands as a symbol of historical events that have been subsequently interpreted and reproduced in order to give them a cultural meaning. The artist has employed music as it is used in opera: to separate the story from its original time and place and to communicate it to the viewer in a metaphorical sense.

For the extreme right, the murdered girl has attained cult status. In the mid-1990s, neo-Nazi groups in Hungary established a memorial site to remember the Tiszaeszlár case. The series of photographs documents the cult of Eszter Solymosi, the alleged victim whose body was lost during the trial proceedings. Each year, following their commemorative rituals, they leave ribbons at the fake grave erected in her honour in 1994.

The photographs and video installation deal with collective memory and the process of cultural and psychological identification. 

About the artist
Hajnal Németh (1972) was born in Hungary and currently lives and works in Berlin. 
In her artistic practice she creates musicals, operas, performances, films and photographs but most of all, through slight modifications of poems, songs and texts she encourages political statements.
Her work has been internationally exhibited at prestigious art institutions in Europe, America and Asia, in 2011 she represented Hungary at the Venice Biennale.



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