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Mending a transgenerational hole | TOBE Gallery

The exhibition of Anthony Paul Marchetti recently opened in Budapest’s TOBE gallery talks about a search for identity, Eastern European fates, resolving family trauma and the reconstruction of an imagined past.

The US-based photographer has family ties to Hungary. The story started in 1945, when his grandma fled Szeged to escape the Soviet troops and spent years in a refugee camp in Munich. This is where she met Paul (Pál), a young man studying to become a dentist, the protagonist of the exhibition. They were already engaged when the girl got an opportunity to move to the US with her family, but the man could not go with her there at the time. When saying goodbye, Paul promised that he would follow her so that they could finally start their life together. The fiancée only found out en route to the new world that she was pregnant with Paul’s child, Anthony’s mother. Little did she know that they would never see each other again. Their short-lived yet profoundly deep love became a painful memory for the rest of her life; something she didn’t like to talk about.

Anthony’s series titled Paul seeks after his unknown grandfather. At the entrance of the exhibition, there’s a small photomontage of the real Paul, but for the grandchild, these pictures didn’t tell enough about the man. Thus the artist temporarily moved to Hungary and traveled the route his grandmother took half a decade ago, thus creating his own narrative about the escape, uncertainty and hopeless love.  Dental instruments, old love letters, a checkered scarf, eyes that had seen a lot and foggy, ominous weather. The photo collection recreates Paul’s fictional character out of objects, landscapes and strangers, through the portraits and clothes of people who could might as well be his grandfather.

“With its simplicity, this story is shattering and thought-provoking at the same time,” said Tomas Opitz and Bea Puskás, the founders of the gallery.

The exhibition was opened by psychologist Noémi Orvos-Tóth. In her speech, she talked about how there’s a reason that this sensitive family story encompassing three generations is finally wrapped up by the grandchild. He is far enough for it to be less painful but close enough to feel this absence, this hole in his life. “There are artists who can create art out of their transgenerational traumas and there are pictures that can mend transgenerational holes,” summarized Noémi Orvos-Tóth the essence of the exhibition in her speech.

Anthony Paul Marchetti and Noémi Orvos-Tóth

An important element of the work of curator Kinga German is participative art, so they once again invite guests and passersby to create a joint narrative together. Anyone is welcome to stick their feelings, thoughts and a morsel of their family story on Anthony’s photo depicting the bank of the Danube, installed on the window of the gallery.

The exhibition opened on May 25 will welcome visitors until July 3 as part of the official programs of Műtárgyak Éjszakája 2021 and Gallery Weekend Budapest 2021, amongst others. With the collaboration of the students of Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, several exciting multidisciplinary framework events will help the message reach the broadest possible age group and target audience.

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