A new exhibition at MODEM in Debrecen, Hungary, titled BORDERLINE CASE, seeks to provide novel artistic reflections with regards to a forever-shifting Central-Eastern European identity. With a solid research to outline the historical context of the exhibition, curator Don Tamás brings together 14 artists from the region and tackles issues of language, border, and self-definition.

In some aspects, BORDERLINE CASE is the continuation of the 2018 art exhibition Time of our lives?”, which reviewed the works of emerging Hungarian artists. The exhibition puts on display the works of fourteen young artists from five countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania), most of which were made for this occasion. The title BORDERLINE CASE was inspired by a novel written by Péter Hunčík, a psychiatrist of Hungarian origin who lives in Slovakia, presenting the 20th-century history of the region through the story of the inhabitants of a small Slovak border town with a mixed population. One the one hand, the term suggests that setting clear-cut boundaries has always been a crucial question in Central and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, it has always been hard to decide whether the region belongs to the West or to the East. The title was chosen specifically because it does not contain the slightly self-ironic stereotype that compares the region to the “West”. Although the artists are members of a generation socialized in a globalized world, at the same time their lives are inevitably influenced by regionalism in the most different areas.

The pressing question tackled by the exhibition is to what extent their identity is affected by this and how it is reflected in their artworks. Historian Gábor Egry contributed to the preparation of the exhibition by helping to outline the historical context. The historical review interpreted Central and Eastern Europe in terms of three concepts: language, border, and the self-definition of the region. It was essential to point out those historical features which defined the region not only in the 20th century; therefore, the temporal focus of the historical examination is placed on the period between 1848 and 2021.

Artists Silvia AMANCEI & Bogdan ARMANU, BOZZAI Dániel & MÁTÉ Dániel, Vasile CĂTĂRĂU, Jakub CHOMA, Megan DOMINESCU, Olga DZIUBAK, ERMÉNYI Mátyás, MOLNÁR Judit Lilla, Uladizmir PAZNIAK, Renata PINTEROVA, David PRÍLUČÍK Irmina RUSICKA, Martina Drozd SMUTNÁ, Jiří ŽÁK
Curator Don Tamás
Exhibition dates January 22, 2022—April 10, 2022
Historical work Egry Gábor
Graphic design Döme Melinda, Mező Anikó
Exhibition interior Juhász Nóra
Communication Szabó Dániel
Installation Hárnási László, Király Antal, Nagy Tamás, Szeverényi Attila, Zilahi Sándor
Translation Lakó Zsigmond
Proofreading Sárai Vanda
Logistics Dankó Petra, Ivancsó Fruzsina, Marcin I. Bence, Süli-Zakarné Jónás Dóra, Szabó Zsuzsanna, Tóth Richárdné
Special thanks Angel Judit, Donné Soós Ibolya, Félix Anikó, Fodor Ildikó, Hunčík Péter, Kopacz Kund László, Mélyi József, Nyéki Emese, Süli-Zakar Szabolcs, Veress Dániel, Vizi Kata
Image credit David Biro

Put together by MODEM Modern és Kortárs Művészeti Központ / MODEM Modern and Contemporary Arts Centre. See more about the exhibition and plan your visit here.