The Life and Adventures of GL



Literaturhaus Graz

Production specifics
With a contribution by Lívia Páldi

Models: Peter Schloss, Lung Peng (luno studio–art/craft/architecture models)

Loans courtesy of Collection Ariel Muzicant (Vienna) and Pathological-Anatomical Collection in the “Narrenturm” (Natural History Museum Vienna)

Film fragments courtesy of Hungarian National Film Fund–Film Archive

Conceived by Ekaterina Degot and David Riff in collaboration with Lívia Páldi, the installation takes an artistic-curatorial look at the fictions and myths around Georg Lukács, the philosopher and literary theoretician who coined the metaphor of the Grand Hotel Abyss. Lukács himself was one of this imaginary hotel’s most famous occupants, reportedly serving as the model for Thomas Mann’s sinister communist Jesuit Naphta in The Magic Mountain (1924), set in a luxury sanatorium in Davos. Other stories of his exploits equally took on a life of their own: What was his role in the short-lived Hungarian “dictatorship of the proletariat” after World War I? Was he a ruthless commissar who had people shot, as anti-communist historians are now claiming? Did he become a gray cardinal of Stalinism after moving to Moscow, as his enemies suspected? Why did he oppose modernism and champion Realism? What remains of his work after the closure of the archive in his former Budapest apartment by today’s right-wing government in Hungary? Models, ephemeral objects, and quotes recall the myths around Lukács’s life, playfully revealing the mechanisms behind their making. Departing from his lifelong preoccupation with the historical novel, the resulting installation casts a figure that may or may not be Lukács as the protagonist of a speculative narration on the ruptures of the 20th century.