Index – Culture – “To say something like that about a suicidal girl? This is serious?”

The tragic story of Chilla Molnar is known to everyone in the country: the first and only beauty contest held in socialist Hungary was tragic in every way, but the most shocking is the story of Chilla Molnar, a 16-year-old high school student. from Fonyod, who committed suicide just a year later.

The beauty pageant was closely linked to the complete physical, mental and financial vulnerability of the contestants, as the men who crowded around the pageant kept them in check—among other things, saying that if they didn’t agree to have a nude plaster model made of them, they would ruin their careers. for life.

That’s why it was strange that the Hungarian National Gallery (MNG) Image by image in his Facebook series called Gyula Power presented his sculpture of Chilla Molnar (The beauty of Hungary, 1985), as one of many exhibits in the museum’s collection. “To share this about a suicidal girl? Is this serious?” wrote a commenter, and the page was flooded with many similar outraged comments that could not help but be deleted, and eventually the entire post was deleted. “We realized that this post hurt the feelings of many people,” said Zoltan Levay, head of press service of MNG, in response to a question from Index.

Post that can no longer be read

But what was in the post that caused outraged comments? On the one hand, this is a photograph of a hyper-realistic sculpture that reveals every intimate detail, which is shocking in itself. “One of the scandalous events in late Kadar Hungary was the election of a beauty queen in 1985. The most tragic turn of the scandal was the sad death of the country’s first beauty queen, Chilla Molnar, who was only 17 years old in 1986. The suicide of a young girl also gave a new meaning to her statue of Gyula Power,” we read in a since-defunct MNG post, which then analyzed the work purely from an aesthetic point of view.

“Power started in 1984 when the election of a beauty queen was announced. beauty sale to your project. His plan was to make a full-length plaster cast of the beauty and, based on this, also make a bronze statue of the winner. In the end, he selected fifteen models from his studio and invited the beauty queen to model after the final on October 5, 1985. (…)

Impressions remained from the model lying down.

In the prone position, the body posture is different, muscle tension is also different – a continuation of the MNG post. – At the same time, the production of a plaster cast is also very painful, as the material cast on the body compresses and generates heat, while the model must remain motionless for a long time. Therefore, the erected lying sculpture in itself radiates a special tension. On the one hand, the posture of the statue of Chilla Molnar causes suffering and pain of the martyr saints, but we also feel suffering for the beauty and physical pain caused during the creation of the work. However, the death of the girl gave this statue a different meaning. As if the body is already a death mask or tombstone. This is a monument not only to a young girl, but also to the Beauty.

According to the post, which has since been deleted, the work of art causes suffering and pain — exactly the kind of pain and suffering that was caused by the making of the statue itself. Thus, this pain and suffering could have been avoided.

By the way, the image and text were the same as those that appeared once in 2018 on the page of the Hungarian National Gallery on Facebook – then it did not cause outrage, and they can be read today.

Nude women were also photographed.

The reason for the post five years ago was that the statue of Chilla Molnar was once, on October 11, 2018, taken out of the Kupolacharnok corridor closed to visitors for a single evening at an event of the Hungarian National Gallery + TEST. The incident has now been reminisced by another exhibition venue, the Chiscelli Museum – Metropolitan Gallery, also in a Facebook post, clearly reflecting the emergence of the Hungarian National Gallery and the outrage that followed.

“The full-length bronze was made on the basis of a plaster cast of 16-year-old winner Silla Andrea Molnar, ten years after her suicide, in 1996, as part of the Beauty Action proposed by Power as the official prize of the competition. the first socialist beauty contest. It was added to the collection of the Hungarian National Gallery that same year as a gift,” Chiscelli’s entry recalls the “prize” offered to the winner, then moves on to disturbing details. Power made plaster casts of several beauty pageant contestants. A 1986 documentary film by András Der and Laszlo Hartai filmed at Balás Béla’s studio. beautiful girls immortalized it.

Two photographers (Bela Bacho and Janos Fenio) photographed naked young women with the permission of Magyar Média, who organized the competition, “for documentation purposes”. Pictures finally from a foreign erotic magazine, Louis appeared in the columns of the West German edition Free yourself, comrades! title, causing a major scandal. The ever-increasing pressure, vulnerability to the media and sponsors may be largely to blame for the tragic death of Chilla Andrea Molnar,” the Chiscelli Museum said in a statement.

feel flattered

The following recalls the already mentioned case of 2018: the exhibition was based on a clash of articles, photographs, archival materials and interviews about the body culture of socialism, sexism, rules and loopholes regarding pornographic content, a beauty pageant and artist Agnes Eperyesi was originally jointly intended with curator Kata Oltay for the Hungarian National Gallery. In the end, Eperiesi was able to take possession of the dome of the Gallery only for a few hours on that same October 11th, when she dressed the statue of Chilla Molnar on the symbolic red carpet of catwalks and star industry. feel flattered The work addressed issues that are relevant to this day, such as the artistic appropriation of the body, the sexism of the late Kadar era, the lack of respect for individual rights and the abuse of power.

“Thank you, colleagues, for standing up! I was very hooked by the MNG post,” writes a commenter here, under the Kiselli Museum post. In this post, you can also see a work of art: Agnes Eperiesi, which was added to the collection of the Metropolitan Art Gallery. Paphos and criticism (2018) is a red replica of Power’s head statue, 3D printed and applied to a metal frame from photographs without touching the statue’s original bronze body.

“The last couple of decades have seen fundamental paradigm shifts. Their critical literature, as well as some contemporary social and political movements, have enriched the cultural discourse on the topic of the female body and beauty with many new aspects,” Kiselli says in the post, and it is true that this discourse is promoted by the Hungarian National Gallery – at least in this post on Facebook – he didn’t finish the job.

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