The Poïpoïdrome in Budapest: A Case Study in Curating Changeability in Contemporary Art

Judit Bodor, Roddy Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This article discusses two separate realisations of Robert Filliou and Joachim Pfeufer’s artwork The Poïpoïdrome in Budapest in 1976 and 1998 as a case study for curating a contemporary exhibition of a historic but inherently ‘changeable’ artwork. We introduce The Poïpoïdrome and position its Budapest manifestations 22 years apart as two important moments within its broader exhibition history. In reflecting on both its first exhibition at the Young Artists’' Club in 1976 and its later re-emergence as part of Artpool Art Research Centre’s “Year of Installation” at Artpool P60, we introduce the critical lens of ‘changeability’ through which to evaluate the afterlives of environments and happenings in collections and exhibitions. We highlight the importance of understanding the work’s specific conceptual and material properties in developing a curatorial approach capable of preserving its inherent ‘changeability’ and resisting simple medium-specific and art historical classification. The Poïpoïdrome is constructed conceptually and physically as a polymorphous environment in and through which to explore Filliou’s concept of ‘Permanent Creation’. The exhibition history of the work comprises both different versions and variations created by Filliou and Pfeufer and later reworkings of these in galleries and museums after Filliou’s death. The Poïpoïdrome thus exemplifies that which Hanna B. Hölling calls ‘changeability’, defined as an “artwork’s potential to transform from one condition, appearance, or constitution to another.”1 The inherently changeable materiality of post-avant-garde art challenges the traditional role of conservation to mitigate against material change, loss or damage. Curatorial practice becomes an explicitly significant dimension of the work’s production at each occasion of its restaging, thus raising questions of ‘authenticity’ and ‘authorship’. As The Poïpoïdrome is a work in flux, when and how can it be understood to begin and end? What curatorial challenges exist in its restaging or reconstruction when each of its manifestations is arguably unique? Also, what how do the curatorial approaches in 1976 and 1998 both differ and overlap, and what can be learnt about the work as a result?


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