White Song – Among Others (Race Abstraction), 2016
Photo series, giclée print 60 x 360 cm, 4 panels, 60 x 90 cm each Edition of 5 + 1 AP
From an interview with Helene Romakin
Helene Romakin: Pop-culture and popular music plays an important role in your work. In the show you refer to several pop songs from the 1970s. Could you speak more about the work “White Song – Among Others (Race Abstraction)?”
Hajnal Németh: The four photos shown in the exhibition are taken from the song “I Hate The White Man” by Roy Harper that was released in 1970. In this song Harper explains why he hates the “White Man” in very significant poems that mention all destructive actions of white men against other races in this world. I found this song very strong and beautiful since Harper is a musician who criticizes strongly Western societies while being a British white man himself. It raises a very ambivalent question while he seems to be caught in his origins. From this song I abstracted single parts from the refrain and changed the color to red, yellow and black:
“For I hate the red, man, in its evergreen excuse
And I hate the white, man, in its doctrinaire refuse
For I hate the yellow, and its plastic excuse
And I hate the black, man, it turned itself loose”
Since I introduced a comma after the color, I changed the meaning of the sentence: “I hate the black, man!” simply means I hate the black color referring to the man who I talk to. This abstraction of the meaning and of the whole song lead to the subtitle “Race Abstraction” in my work.
Helene Romakin: The four photographs, a two dimensional work, look like a staged performance or at least have a strong performative impluse…
Hajnal Németh: That’s true. On the images you see Albert Orgon, a singer and a musician, his scores for rehearsing and his bass guitar. He also worked on a version of Roy Harper’s song which will be presented on a music stand together with his guitar in the exhibition. Since he also will take part in the opening, all elements will come together maybe not as a performance but a still life. The most important in this project was for me to project the modified sentences onto an object. In this case a human being becomes an object while the text is projected on his body. This gesture follows the same idea as the abstraction of the text white man, red man and the color. A kind of materialization a depersonalization of the human body through the projection of subtitles like in a cinema, an effect where suddenly the work becomes three dimensional.