Hungarian Cubes

Subversive Ornaments in Socialism

Collective and private expression, conformity and subtle subversion: The “Magyar Kocka” and its ornamentation.

 

 

Title Information

Edited and with photographs by Katharina Roters. With texts by Hannes Böhringer, Endre Prakfalvi, Zsolt Szijártó and József Szolnoki

1st edition

, 2014

Text English and German

Hardback

172 pages, 123 color illustrations

22 x 25 cm

ISBN 978-3-906027-43-2

Content

The “Magyar Kocka”, or Hungarian Cube, is a standardized type of residential house in Hungary that dates back to the 1920s. It was designed as a radically functional single-family home for Budapest’s suburbs and housing projects, but it became closely identified with the postwar communist era, when many villages were rebuilt with uniform rows of single-family homes, and the Hungarian Cube—often renamed the “Kádár Kocka”, after Hungary’s communist president, János Kádár—became ubiquitous.

In Hungarian Cubes, German-Hungarian artist Katharina Roters explores the one aspect of the Magyar Kocka that could be individualized: the ornamental decorations on their facades. Roters strips the houses she photographs of all surplus details, clearing out fences, railings, antennas, road signs, power lines, and the like, which enables the viewer to focus on the ornaments—and to see how they offered a rare opportunity for individualism and even protest under the conformity of the communist system.

 

Winner of the DAM Architectural Book Award 2014.

 

Designed by Imre Lepsényi.

Authors & Editors

Hannes Böhringer

, born 1948, is a philosopher with a focus on the philosophy of art. Professor of philosophy at the Braunschweig University of Art since 1995.

Endre Prakfalvi

, born 1956, is art historian and an expert in history of 20th-century Hungarian architecture.

Katharina Roters

, born 1969, visual artist, studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest. Numerous scholarships and exhibitions in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and other countries.

Zsolt Szijártó

 (*1964), has been head and lecturer at the faculty of communication and media studies at the University of Pecs, Hungary since 1999.

József Szolnoki

, born 1971, documentary filmmaker and media artist. Studied at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany, and the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest.