Gaudiopolis, or “The City of Joy” (1945–1950) was the name of a Children’s Republic founded in the aftermath of World War II in Budapest by Lutheran pastor Gábor Sztehlo. His orphanage provided shelter and home for hundreds of children regardless of their religion, social background, or nationality, who lost their parents to the war. Children dwellers of the “City of Joy” formed their own government, elected their representatives, and adopted laws that applied to everybody (including teachers). This community set out to learn democracy anew and, eliminating all social barriers in the spirit of Christ’s gospel, to educate children to become “independent, self-conscious, practically trained, and theoretically qualified citizens striving for better self-understanding and self-criticism.” Gaudiopolis achieved a certain level of self-sustainability through the residents’ common work. Although it did receive some funds from the state, it functioned independently until its 1950 nationalization. The story of the Children’s Republic was immortalized in the film Somewhere in Europe (1948, dir. Géza Radványi), in which many of the children of the community also took part as actors.
The story of Gaudiopolis is relevant even today. This mini-republic of trust, generosity, responsibility, and care serves as inspiration to both the projects and the working method of OFF-Biennale. Even though war tragedies today reach Europe primarily through the masses of refugees or media reports, our micro- and macroenvironment are infused with social and political crisis once again; that of liberal democracy, which is also manifest on the level of education. Thus, we must reassess the implications of personal commitment, education, community development, and the sustainability of democracy, as well as rethink, in this context, the potential role of children, playfulness, joy—and art. The creativity and the freedom of thought embedded in art inspire to find new ways. As Gaudiopolis before, OFF-Biennale itself and the projects introduced here, too, carry out “laboratory” experiments of change, by creating situations that may become social models. Be it street theater, a punk band, or living memorials, what the artists create explores the possibilities of the future. Forms of living together that establish a society comprising common trust, generosity, taking responsibility and care.
Head of the OFF-Biennale: Hajnalka Somogyi
Curators: Nikolett Erőss, Róna Kopeczky, Lívia Páldi (2016), Somogyi Hajnalka Somogyi, Eszter Szakács, Borbála Szalai, Katalin Székely
Participants: Albert Ádám, Can Altay, Altorjay Gábor, Akademia Ruchu, APART, Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop, Art Wall, Bajusz Orsolya, Zbynĕk Baladrán, Anca Benera – Arnold Estefan, Jerzy Bereś, Johanna Billing, Bogyó Virág, Borsos Lőrinc, Eugen Brikcius, Giulia Bruno, Bukta Imre, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Cséfalvay András, Anetta Mona Chişa – Lucia Tkáčová, Csoszó Gabriella / Freedoc, Demeter Dávid, El-Hassan Róza, Ember Sári, Erhardt Miklós, Erlich Gábor, Fejes Andrienn, Fekete Valér, Stano Filko & Alex Mlynárcik, Andreas Fogarasi, Fridvalszki Márk, Gosztola Kitti – Pálinkás Bence György –Hegedűs Fanni, Andy Holden, Tomislav Gotovac, Ion Grigorescu, Gróf Ferenc, Gryllus Ábris –Tóth Márton Emil – Vadas Zsófia Tamara, Ane Hjort Guttu, Hajdú Zsolt, Nicoline van Harskamp, Hódi Csilla, Horváth Csaba Árpád, Danièle Huillet – Jean-Marie Straub, Adelita Husni-Bey, Binelde Hyrcan, Richard Ibghy – Marilou Lemmens, Sanja Iveković, Sven Johne, Karas David, Kaszás Tamás – Loránt Anikó (ex-artists’ collective), Marcio Kerber Canabarro, KissPál Szabolcs, Milan Knížák, Kokesch Ádám, Kolozsvári Csenge, Eva Koťátková, Július Koller, Jiří Kovanda, Kristóf Gábor, Kristóf Krisztián, KwieKulik, Lakner Antal, Lakner László, László Gergely –Katarina Šević, Armin Linke, Kis Varsó / Little Warsaw, Lowas Péter, Dušan Makavejev, Maljusin Mihály, Alexander Manuiloff, Maurer Dóra, Mikulán Dávid, Karel Miler, Monory Ráhel, Nagy Csilla, Nemes Csaba, Nem mi voltunk crew!, Jüri Okas, The Order of Crusaders for Pure Humor Without Banter, Neša Paripović, Ewa Partum, Manuel Pelmuş, Pirrogó Duó, Pneuma Szöv./Mókusok, Molnár Csaba, Joanna Piotrowska, Michael Rakowitz, R.E.P., Rostás Bea Piros, Sarkadi Péter, Schmied Andi, Simon Kati – Vásárhelyi Zsolt, Sipos Eszter, SLAVS AND TATARS, Mladen Stilinović, Sugár János és a Műtárgykészítés kurzus hallgatói, Szász Lilla – Hidas Judit, Szeri Viktor, Szilágyi Kornél – Vándor Csaba, Szolga Hajnal “Szaffi”, Tanközlöny, Tót Endre, Tóth Balázs Máté, Tóth Zsuzsanna, Tulisz Hajnalka, Trapp Dominika, Jerzy Treliński, Piotr Wysocki –Dominik Jałowiński, XRC (Kovács Balázs), Akram Zaatari.