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THERE IS ANGEL (2005)
Photo Gallery_
FEBRONIA, THE ANGEL THAT REALLY EXISTS, AND FEMINIST PORNOGRAPHY – ZSUZSA MOIZER AFTER HER EXHIBITION TITLED “THERE’S ANGEL”
András Vágvölgyi B.
Artmagazin, Year III. Issue 5.
2005

The head of an aufklärist just like me does shudder when a pretty young woman from the social realist shrine Dunaújváros begins to talk to him about the glowing heart of St. Clara of Montefalco-thoughts swirl wildly between the wallpaper of the Ráday-street Jaffa evoking an east-German atmosphere, and the light sources that remind us of the 1970s: who is responsible for that? The ur-stupid of Hungarian bigotism, or the flame-sworded secretary of the bishopric, or the wildly popular Dan Brown? In any case, the situation is the post post-modern itself. I am watching Zsuzsa Moizer's series of water-colours titled Fulget crucis (Glowing Heart) on a Macintosh G4 notebook-in retro decorations and disco rhythm-the series which was conceived on the basis of a wood-engraving from the Middle Ages. Then it becomes clear that the responsible is Gábor Klaniczay and his lecture on the history of performance (Forpined body and messed clothes. Two cultural additions to the roots of performance. In: http://www.artpool.hu/), which takes back the roots of performance and body art to the flagellants-and then the spirit calms down. So it is not Semjén!

"The revelation of Clara of Montefalco (1268-1308) was the following: Jesus Christ thrust his cross into her heart, thus did he plant in it the tools of his suffering. (...) Her fellow nuns who were curious-or, rather, hungry for a miracle-had her heart taken out by a doctor immediately after her death, and in her heart-how miraculous-they found the tools of Christ's suffering: the wreath of thorns, the whip, the sponge with vinegar, the spear, the cross, the nails. This was in strong connection with the emerging cult of Arma Christi in the 14th century, the enthusiastic spokesman of which was the Italian Dominican friar Venturino de Bergamo. The devotion towards the tools that had caused the suffering (wcich usually took the form of bloody self-whipping) makes those who look back on it from the direction of modern art think of the words of Joseph Beuys: ‘If you cut your finger, put a bandage on the knife...'" - writes Klaniczay, then he goes on to say that "the most eerie stories come from the Middle East. A martyr woman of Syria, the virgin Febronia, when she was asked to deny the God of Christendom and to get married, answered in a contemptuous voice that she already had a marital bed in the heavens, where her heavenly fiancé was waiting for her. The judge had her whipped, torn with hot irons, burned her body, asking her from time to time if she was ready to give up. The heroic martyr virgin, of course, declined to recognise the pagan gods. The judge then had her tongue torn out, her breasts, feet and legs cut off, and in the end there remained nothing of Febronia but a bloody, wriggling, but still resistant pile of flesh. The legend describes how the people were begging the martyr to give up and the executioners to stop-in vain." Zsuzsa Moizer was inspired by these sentences-she says that "the glowing heart of St. Clara of Montefalco is the X-ray of my own heart"-and also by the parallel motifs that she thought to have found in her own life when she dreamed her Febronia-series into water colours.

Moizer's exhibition was opened in the Deák Erika Gallery in September with the title "There is Angel," and the paintress who graduated recently from the University of Fine Arts immediately had a noisy success. The exhibition consists of a series of self-portraits, pictures of the same or of very similar size that are almost entirely covered by the face. There are a few water-colours as well, in the topics evoked above. "I think my way is that I have to produce the intimacy and freedom that is always there in water-colours-even by their very size-in oil paintings. I am keen on water-colours, but they are not taken seriously enough; no matter that water colours are more intimate, oil paintings are more effective." Zsuzsa had a considerable manual dexterity as a child, he knitted, crocheted, and following an accident during her ballet lessons, she went to a secondary art school in Székesfehérvár, specialising in textile art. Sense of colours and space are innate skills, but her studies meant a lot to her. Her first tutor was the Jackson Pollock Award-winner István Birkás in Dunaújváros, and she was accepted to university for the second time as a student of painting. "I do think that painting is a trade, the things that have to be learnt do not come by themselves, even if one has excellent skills. Then everything must be forgotten, and a new painting art has to be developed based on one's own value system. There is no good or bad, it is only authenticity that counts." As she says, the university was characterised by an extreme amount of freedom, her tutor, Gábor Nagy, an advocate of natural development, was not very strict. This also caused a sort of deficit in communication, she adds, she sometimes could not overcome a sense of being uncounselled.

Earlier she made conversation pieces, still lives, cruel drawings full of sexuality. She began to paint her self-portraits in water-colours (together with body and couple paintings) from 2003 on-she says that water-colours are excellent designs for oil paintings. "Water-colours seem to be easy technically, the material itself needs such a speed that one has to know in advance what she wants to paint. The picture has to be ready in the mind, so one has to know how to direct incidences. Oil is a slower technique, still I try to use it as I would use water-colours, with me being the generator of incidences." The aquarelles can be considered the water-colour blueprints of the picture-Kafka Egon Schiele's perverse, suffering bodies wriggling as raw nerves-or almost. One cannot but see the hurt woman-ness in Zsuzsa Moizer's work. "All my pictures are sad if they contain my oversensitivity, my problems in personal relationships, the urging need to emotionally respond to everything." She shows me a "drawing of revenge" of a man who is urinating on a woman. She also tells me that many of her classmates "dance" or work in "catering" in different countries. "They might have become whores," I say, and I know that the responsible in this case is not Gábor Klaniczay but the narrow scope of possibilities in Dunaújváros. "I have been doing my Febronia-pictures for years; she was a Christian martyr in the Middle Ages, and when she did not want to marry a Muslim, she suffered a death of mutilation that has been regarded by many as the forerunner of body art." She has also made a series about Reem Sahad al-Riyashi who, in 1998, became the first female Palestinian suicidal bomber on Israeli territory. Seeing my sulking, Moizer tells me that she does not care a damn about the political context and connotation-still, she adds that according to the al-Jazeera TV, the mother of two immediately went up to heaven.

Moizer graduated in 2004 with a series of self-portraits that have to be regarded as one single entity. "One picture is not enough to explain a thought, that is why I always think in terms of series. One thing can be expressed in several pictures, and I like to work fast, so fast that I can finish a picture before the idea I have passes away. The single picture thus becomes a part of the process." She cannot step out of herself-she says; what she is doing is a Luddite picto-blog-I say. A diary in image, ephemeral moods painted with oil paint. (Luddite here does not mean the concept of the Fiáth sisters, but a non-technicised fine art, as opposed to the excessive use of tools.) "Am I a Luddite? A destroyer of machines from the 19th century? I think if a painter only focuses on technique, the joy is lost. And I think that joy is a crucial part in the process of creation. Catharsis is really important. There must be something in the picture, a sign that shows that the one who painted it also loved it. I am not afraid of new techniques, but they are killing painting. Painting is a classical but also a contemporary genre. I am a photographer too, but I do not use the photos directly in my paintings."

Some time ago she made drawings with colour pencils, it does resemble keeping a diary, and she writes too, but the main line is the from-water-colour-to-oil-paint. "My compositions are simple, there is no ear, no neck, they almost fill up the whole space given." Only the closed and the open eyes. "The stories enclosed in the eyes of the portraits, that is the episodes of a peculiar and extremely cruel legendary is illustrated in a dozen of water-colours"-writes István Hajdu in Magyar Narancs. Zsuzsa Moizer does not paint dreams, although in one of her dreams she was chased by a raven in the kitchen, and that is picturesque enough. But, no, it is not. Then she speaks about her two favourite Frida Kahlo-pictures (The Two Fridas; Thinking of Diego). She is considered to be a freedom fighter-she says. She is intrigued by ironic cruelty. Beheaded bodies, being torn apart, a fascination with biological deconstruction-she says. In Dunaújváros she had good chances of getting first-hand experience as the former socialist industrial town is the base of the only Hungarian amateur workshop, the Cruel World Team, dealing in horror films-I say. She is not interested in filmed horror-she says. A long time ago I read Moldova's book about the foundation of the socialist town. There is a scene in the book-around 1952, in the Zoltán Vas era-there was a wooden stage for cultural performances, and one day, the body of a prostitute was found there, naked, fixed to the stage with cotter-plates. The topic is so close that for Zsuzsa Moizer it is too far-fetched, but I tell it to her nevertheless, and she seems to be interested. She is also inspired by aura photos. She says that one of her critics called her false infantile and fake childish. Somebody else told her to paint being drugged. She does not feel like it, although with her background she could deploy a smashing gonzo-painting, just like the feminist porn that was appreciated by Hunter S. Thompson. In a SM version. Psychedelic art. "My pictures are queer, they make people feel embarrassed, the ones who love me, become sad. They make me sad sometimes too. But I am fond of queerness, and I do not like platitudinous topics."

 

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