Ernő Kállai’s, Alfréd Kemény’s, László Moholy-Nagy’s, and László Péri’s “Manifesto” (1923)

Translated from the Hungarian by Krisztina Passuth.

From Between Two Worlds: A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-Gardes,

1910-1930.  (The MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 2002).

• • •

We are aware that Constructivism today is increasingly developing bourgeois traits.  One of the manifestations of this is the Dutch Stijl group’s constructive (mechanized) aestheticism as well as the technical Naturalism achieved by the Russian Constructivists (the Obmokhu group) with their constructions representing technical devices.

Every form of art that sees itself as hovering above the current social forms in aesthetic or cosmic perspective exists on a bourgeois level even if its adherents call themselves Constructivists.  The same holds true for all forms of contemporary naturalism, whether its subject be the machine or nature herself.

For this reason, we make a distinction between the aestheticism of bourgeois Constructivists and the kind of constructive art that springs from our communist ideology.  This latter, in its analyses of form, matter and structure, is breaking the [444] ground for the collective architecture of the future, which will be the pivotal art form of communist society.  As such it will not think of itself as either absolute or dogmatic, in that it dearly sees the partial role it fulfils in the integrated process of social transformation at the present time. It is raised above bourgeois Constructivism and against the bourgeois construction of life in today’s society by that constructive content which is indicative of constructive potentialities, which can be fully realized only within the framework of communist society.  In contrast, the bourgeois Constructivists provide only the haute bourgeois forms of today’s capitalist society with the adequate and simplest artistic construction which can be realized in today’s society.

This kind of reappraised (from a bourgeois point of view, destructive) Constructivism (to which only a tiny portion of those contemporary movements in art that are known by the name of Constructivism belong) leads, on the one hand, in practical life to a new constructive architecture* that can be realized only in a communist society, and, on the other hand, to a nonfunctional but dynamic (kinetic) constructive system of forces which organizes space by moving in it, the further potential of which is again in practice dynamic architecture.  The road to both goals leads through interim solutions.

In order to bring about a communist society; we artists must fight alongside the proletariat, and must subordinate our individual interests to those of the proletariat.  We think that this is possible only within the communist party, by working in co-operation with the proletariat.  For this reason, we think that a Proletkult organization should be established, an organization that would make such co-operation possible; that is why we join the Egység, since it was the one to begin work in this direction.

The new Proletkult organization must turn against bourgeois culture (destructive work) and must look for a road leading to a new communist culture (the constructive aspect of the work); furthermore, it must liberate the proletariat from the pressure of bourgeois culture, and substitute for their bourgeois intellectuals’ hunger for culture a wish for the most advanced organization of life.  The artists of the Proletkult must pave the way for a high-standard (adequate) proletarian and collective art.

—  Ernő Kállai, Alfréd Kemény, László Moholy-Nagy, László Péri

• • •

* City construction based on a unified plan with new materials selected to satisfy the collective needs of communist society land not used hitherto in architecture!, and with forms developed from the constructive potentialities of the new materials. [Original authors’ note.]

[Originally published as “Nyilatkozat,” in Egység no. 4 (1923)]

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~ by Ross Wolfe on October 22, 2010.

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