What identity does a female ceremonial attire have?
Come along with us to the Budapest Gallery to have a closer look at Mária Chilf's piece in an exciting exhibition called "Imagined Communities, Personal Imaginations".
Mária Chilf felt the urge to trace her own history when unexpectedly a piece of female clothes turned up in the life of her family. In Marosvásárhely, in 1940, her grandmother, on her side with her converted Catholic originally Jewish husband, was welcoming Miklós Horty, the right-wing, pro-German leader of Hungary in the interwar period, in this garment. Her grandfather was soon taken for forced labour service to the Russian front, and the ceremonial attire turned up in Bergen-Belsen, although not in the concentration camp, but on the military base at the same location. At the end of the war, one of the camp survivors took it home to Hungary. In this story, nationalism, antisemitism, forced labour service, and the holocaust intertwine. The story was never told in the family and Mária Chilf reconstructs it from photos and some other objects complementing it with excerpts from history books, literary works of art, autobiographies, and philosophical works. She slips into her grandmother's role, whose name she inherited and to whom she is said to resemble. At the same time she also identifies with her grandfather. She is trying on different identities, and is looking for her own identity through this chaotic course of events. She makes the private sphere infiltrate the ready-made schemes of history. These schemes sometimes fit the family events but sometimes contradict to them and even question them. And this way the nationalist celebrations, the grandmother wearing her celebration attire, and the Jewish grandfather finally all find their places in this story.