Jó világ van

Somebody sent me this photo two days ago. A tattoo of a post-it, freshly inked. I recognised the text immediately. And the handwriting. I wrote this post-it almost 12 years ago. I actually wrote 40.000 post-it notes with the same text in one week and then filled a museum room with them, covering all walls and the ceiling.

It was the first big project I did as a full-time artist. Shortly after I graduated I was invited to live and work on the Slovak-Hungarian border for 6 months in the Bridge Guard Art & Science Centre. I spent time there meeting people, wandering the streets, doing a lot of small projects and while doing that, I regularly heard people say “Jó világ van”, a Hungarian expression (Sturovo, where I lived, was Slovak but was part of Hungary before the Trianon Treaty and 80% of the inhabitants are Hungarian) that can be translated as “Life is good!” (literally: it is a good world). People said it after a nice meal or on a pleasant Sunday outing. At the same time life was hard over there. Many people were struggling to survive and still suffering from the old political system.

Before I made my installation in the museum, I walked around on both sides of the border (formed by the Danube) for two weeks, spreading these post-it notes anonymously, sticking them on lamp-posts, cars, shop windows, church doors. As much as it was meant as a reminder, there was also a question behind it.

When I was installing (sticking) my installation in the museum some people came to protest. They said I was offending them, telling them life was good when it wasn’t, accusing me of being a rich western artist. The museum director who dealt with them, since they only spoke Hungarian, laughed when they left and said: “This was the first time these people were in the museum, how wonderful!” He told me most of them were shop owners and were annoyed by the post-its on their windows. Most of them were probably better off than I was.

After the project a local band that was inspired by my work, decided to adopt this phrase as the name of their band. “Jó világ one” just released their third album and has become a very popular band in Hungary. This week, 12 years after I wrote that line 40.000 times like a mantra, one of their fans decided to get a tattoo of one of the original post-it notes.

Amazing how ideas and images can travel through time, change shapes and develop into something new. It is truly a good world.

Many thanks to the band: http://jovilagvan.com & the tattoo artist: http://www.pictaram.com/user/dorcaborca/9665826

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