Berlin, Germany (2013)
George Peck’s compelling installation, ‘DREAMSTATE,’ captures the history, turmoil and challenges at the heart of 20th-century politics. The complexity of this miniature environment reminds us that politics are always seen and felt in many different ways, past or present. There are partisans and activists on different sides, as well as also countless people swept up in the animation of a movement without fully understanding it. At one level this is a particular commentary about Hungary, the country where Peck grew up and often visits, yet it also engages countless other nations that have faced bitter partisanship struggles in their efforts to become open democratic societies. How can a work of art challenge us with such questions? The swirl of forms, images, and words that emerge in this environment press observers to ask themselves how crowds are motivated, how individuals find the courage to challenge authority, how local histories intersect with the broader transnational patterns of modern life. The voice of Judge Pál Solt gives both a narrative structure and a political urgency to Hungary’s history (the rise of anti-Semitism, the turn to fascism, the years of Communist domination, liberation from the USSR in 1989) and especially the recent return to these disturbing cultural tropes under the far-right Jobbik party. To experience Peck’s ‘DREAMSTATE’ is to come face to face with history’s intensity, its potent meaning in our present-day lives, and the depths of how we might, as individuals, respond to such highly-charged events.
-Gwendolyn Wright Professor of Architectural History at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Exterior of Juristische Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität Berlin October 2013
George Peck’s immersive, innovative installation DREAMSTATE is one recent and riveting instance of this theme, inspired by the judicious and peaceful transition from an authoritarian political system to a democratic one that began in Hungary after 1989, a pivotal year internationally. Peck collaborated with the former Chief Justice of the Hungarian Supreme Court (1990-2002), the Honorable Dr. Pál Solt, on this project, one of his most politically overt to date. It is an evocative, emotional montage of archival photographic images juxtaposed with more current material and scrolling texts projected on scrims and on the wall. Written by Solt, its subject describes that transition and the explicit and implicit need to safeguard hard-won freedoms from totalitarianism through a government based on laws, on common acts of justice. Informed by a painter’s sensibility, the installation has a disjointed, ghostly air as if envisioned in a dream. It is both specific and universal, conjuring past and present, a compelling political and poetic statement about maintaining and vigilantly guarding a democratic world that is the responsibility of each of us. Peck’s message is also extraordinarily timely as beleaguered countries such as Egypt and Syria struggle to make similar profound but difficult transitions so that such polities, such governments will not disappear from the earth, that they become not dreams, but realities.
-Lily Wei, New York art critic and independent curator
DREAMSTATE at Juristische Fakultät der Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany October 2013
DREAMSTATE Panel Discussion at Humboldt-UniversitätBerlin, Germany October 2013