The theoretical conceptualization of the nation-state and the global community, and rise of nationalism has had an impact on many contemporary artists. Benedict Anderson in an interview in 2011, claimed that ‘Despite all talk of transnationalism and fluid identity, nationalism is in the best of health.’ Discussions about the transition process from the nation-state to global power were conceptualised by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in the book Empire, 2000. However, as response to their theory, Slavoj Žižek pointed out that if the demand of global citizenship is meant to be taken more seriously, then it would mean the state borders elimination. These issues have also had different local nuances and conflicts, political tensions, related minority questions, and sub-regions which were presented as the main concept of the The Private Nationalism Project (PNP).
The PNP is an initiative of the Approach Art Association based in Pécs. It is a series of international art and cultural programs. It has been realized as a collaborative effort among eight institutions from six countries. The invited artists and the 15-member international curatorial staff represent primarily the region of Central-Eastern Europe and countries and cultures in the adjacent areas. Each PNP exhibition addressed the problems and concerns of ‘private nationalism’ that were relevant in each of the countries involved, given that the national cases differ so widely. Except the exhibitions and events in Central-Eastern European cities: Budapest, Bratislava, Krakow, Dresden, Pécs, Kosice and Prague; the videos were also presented at the Knockdown Centre in New York City on the 12th December 2015.
I have met one of the collaborating artists, András Cséfalvay, in Bratislava to talk about his video ‘Compsognation – a dinosaur’s view on the nation state’. András is a video-artist and musician, and in 2015 gained his PhD from the Academy of Fine Art and Design in Bratislava. The Compsognation is a political commentary on the shortcomings of the nation-state. The video is presenting philosophical ideas on nationalism and nation-states in a very beautiful, metaphorical manner. There is a dinosaur visiting an artist and while walking together through Budapest they discuss the issues of the nation-state concept. The artist learns that nations have been here just a few hundreds of years which is a very short time compared to the dinosaurs. The artist’s fantasy is that the division of the world into nation-states could already have happened in the time of the dinosaurs and we would not know about it. The idea presented is that the dinosaurs did not die out because of the meteorite that killed them, but because they created the nation-states. Therefore, a dinosaur came to visit an artist to warn him against the nation-state’s destructive consequences. The nation is a malignant idea because instead of using language as a tool for communication, it uses it as a tool for creating barriers and divisions. The video ends with an electronic version of the Hungarian anthem and view on the planet Earth which is destroyed by an atomic explosion.