Szervíz’s display was as performative as the artists’ projects. And they were very exciting, for example, Peter Hecker’s Rent an artist – who collaborated with other artists, made a portfolio, and during the show, for a certain fee, visitors could hire an artist from his project. And some of them were rented, the service was a dinner with the person who hired the artist and a discussion about art. There was also the alternative where the artist played the role of a guide for contemporary art shows. There were a few wealthy art lovers who paid, rented one of the artists, and went to a show opening together, where the artist explained what it was all about.
There was another very good project in Szervíz worth mentioning, that of Sándor Bartha. At that time mobile phones were around, but they weren’t as popular as they are today. He created a sheltered space in the exhibition hall with an armchair and a land line telephone from which you could call the three curators of the parallel exhibitions. Via the call centre, the phone was connected to the curator’s cell phone and you could call them, talk about the exhibition, anything you wanted. I very much hoped it would work, but the other two curators were sceptical. Eventually they got upset that visitors who wanted to talk to them called them on weekends, during their free time, at the Sunday table.
Throughout the exhibition we had many conversations with various visitors. Some just called to test whether the service really worked. Others asked questions, displeased about certain aspects of the exhibition. That was when I had to give a few art history lessons, to explain how art works post-Duchamp. Generally, they were nice conversations, I think that those who did not enjoy the show just didn’t call. There were also some dissatisfied viewers. I remember there was a journalist who wrote a negative review in a more conservative newspaper of that period. She was in and out of the gallery in ten minutes, the guards told me. I was surprised she did not call the phone service if there was need for any clarification. It was a very challenging experience to speak with the visitors in this equation where they were anonymous on the phone. We did not actually see each other and perhaps that made us more open to each other. People opened up and were actually honest about what they thought. The anonymity situations turned out well, people were quite brave.
There was another show with the Cluj local art scene, European Travellers, which was a middle-ground between a curating plan and being a hired curator, because the two directors at Kunsthalle, the one that left and the one who replaced him, both wanted a show about Cluj’s art because they heard about the Art School in Cluj and The Paintbrush Factory. It was cool to have art from Cluj and since I was Romanian, they thought I was the best person to handle it. Honestly, if it were up to me, I would never have thought of making an exhibition with art coming from one city.