Voices from the Center


Artists include Grafixpol, Oto Hudec, Magda Stanová, Miklós Surányi, Matej Vakula, and Tehnica Schweiz.

October 28-December 10th, 2011
North Peoria #2C, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening reception: Friday, October 28th, 6-9pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday,

Public Programs:
Sunday October 30, 3 PM
Revolution, Transformation and Identity: Central European Artists Reflect Upon Post-Communist Art, Urbanism and Culture: Panel Discussion with Oto Hudec, Magda Stanová, Miklós Surányi, Matej Vakula, and Jan Worpus, moderated by Janeil Engelstad
Graham Foundation, Madlener House
4 West Burton Place, Chicago, IL 60610
Free, RSVP Here

In conjunction:
Unfree Freedom: An Exploration of Identity in Central Europe
Curated by Janeil Engelstad
October 28 – December 10, 2011
Opening Reception Saturday October 29, 3-5 PM
Center for Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College
1104 S Wabash, 2nd FL, Chicago 

CHICAGO: Through the multiform project, Voices From the Center, an interactive web platform and group exhibition, Central Europeans reflect on their lives before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sharing these stories through the lens of social documentary and art, producer Janeil Engelstand has brought together emerging artists from across Central Europe to create a portrait of a people emerging from one political and cultural era into another.


Present-day gas station sits between Socialist-era apartment blocks and “weekend” houses, which were constructed, throughout Hungary,  from found or stolen materials and used as weekend or summer homes. From the series „Weekend Houses by Miklós Surányi 

Voices from the Center grew out of a series of conversations that Janeil Engelstad had with people, while living in Central Europe, about the post-Communist era. Interviewing former dissidents, writers, artists, politicians, teachers, young adults and villagers, her subjects talked about what freedom meant to them and expressed their dreams, fears and hopes for themselves, their country and the world. Working in dialogue with the other artists included here, Engelstad uses this work as the foundation for an installation that includes a timeline, portraits of the participants, and other images and fragments that are woven throughout the rest of the exhibition.

Polish design team Grafixpol created a poster portraying the illusions that people had during communism through the metaphor of a kaleidoscope, including excerpts from Engelstad’s research. Artist Oto Hudec is reconstructing a life-size Skoda, referencing his grandfather’s Skoda 100 MB model as a lens to examine the quality of life for a middle class family during socialism in Czechoslovakia. Prague based artist, Magda Stanová’s site-specific, large-scale wall drawings provide insight into various socialist themes by dissecting language, official documents, newspapers and the nuances of humor from the communist era. Miklós Surányi’s portraits of Hungary’s iconic family, weekend houses, constructed from trash and post-industral materials and abandonded equipment at deserted construction sites, coupled with his interview with Engelstad, examine the confluence of history, time, place and the often failed promises of capitalism. Technica Schweiz (Gergely László and Péter Rákosi) project photographs of both the real and the imagined garage interiors side-by-side, referencing the Socialist era “garage-street” – which today are mostly meeting places for men or an escape family life or a scene of alternative youth culture. Reflecting on the use of public places to gather, commune and protest during communism and most recently in the Middle East and on Wall Street, Slovak artist Matej Vakula‘s audio installation incorporates interviews with people across the United States and Central Europe. The piece’s basic, bare speakers echo the quality of broadcast sound and sound systems prevalent throughout the Eastern Bloc during communism.

Image: From the series „Weekend Houses” by Miklós Surányi


Janeil Engelstad is a San Francisco and Dallas based artist, curator and educator. Engelstad’s work has been exhibited internationally and featured on television, radio and in publications, such as Art News, Metropolis and The New York Times. Guns + Violence, a national billboard project that she co-produced with World Studio was selected for the prestigious “ID Forty” award, an annual listing of leading innovators in design by ID: The Magazine of International Design. In 2010 she founded Make Art With Purpose (MAP), an organization that partners with people and organizations to produce creative projects that lead to positive social and environmental change. She has a MFA in photography from a joint program between New York University and the International Center of Photography and BAs in English and Political Science from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Grafixpol is a graphic design studio based in Lódz, Poland. Principles Kasia Worpus-Wronska and Jan Worpus-Budziejewski begin the process of design from the place of exploring the different forms of a visual message, considering both content and structure.  For Grafixpol, graphic design conveys the emotions, ideas and essence of society and culture. Kasia has an MFA in publishing design from the Academy of Fine Arts in Lódz in 2006. She also has a degree in computer animation from the Computer Science College in Lódz. Jan graduated from the University of Lódz with an MA in Art History in 2005. He also studied commercial photography at the Academy of Photography in Warsaw

Multi-media artist Oto Hudec was born in Kosice, Slovakia and presently lives and works in Porto, Portugal. Hudec has created interventions in public space, which combine painting and performance in Portugal and Spain. He has also created public art, installations and wall pieces, in London, San Francisco, and throughout Slovakia. His piece “Drawing for Filó” was included in the Bienal Mercosul in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2009. Also in 2009, Hudec and Mariana Ribeiro, working under the name of Van Driver, produced “Home” a public intervention about sustainable living in Porto, Portugal. His public sculpture “Mississippi” is part of the outdoor sculpture collection of Nimnica Spa, in Slovakia. Oto received his MFA degree at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava, Slovakia, where he studied Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking techniques. He is represented by the KubikGallery, in Porto, Portugal

Magda Stanová is a visual artist born and raised in Slovakia. Her interest lays in urban development, cartography, analysis of creative processes, theory of photography, and history of ownership. In 2010, she received an MFA in new genres from San Francisco Art Institute, where she studied as a Fulbright scholar. She also holds an MFA in photography and new media from Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (Slovakia), where she graduated in 2007. Her work has been exhibited in Spain, Australia, France, Switzerland, Italy, U.S.A., Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 2008, her book W cieniu fotografii was published by Foundation for Visual Arts in Krakow, Poland. In 2009, she was nominated for the Discovery Award in Rencontre d’Arles festival in France.

Miklós Surányi is a Hungarian photographer who lives and works in Budapest. His work often documents what people and society leave behind. Surányi has shown his work throughout Europe and Asia. Recent exhibitions include solo shows in Prague and Tallinn (Estonia) and group exhibitions in London and at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai. He has received several awards for his work and he is the recipient of the prestigious Pécsi József Photographic Scholarship. His work has been published in several Hungarian publications and in limited edition portfolios published by Budapest’s Lumen Gallery. He has an MA degree in new media arts from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts in Marseille, France.

Matej Vakula is a multi-media artist who often uses public space as a vehicle to explore how the political becomes personal and the personal becomes political. Vakula has exhibited his work throughout Central Europe and in the United States. In 2008 – 2009 he was a curator at the Gallery Stanica in Žilina, Slovakia, a member of Trans Europe Halles one of the most active cultural networks in Europe. His work has been featured in Art Forum and in various Central European media, including newspapers, magazines and television. He has an MFA in Interrelated Media from the Massachusetts College of Art Design where he was a Fulbright fellow and an MFA in Multimedia from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. He has also studied in the Department of Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. 

Gergely László (1979) and Péter Rákosi (1970) began collaborating in 2004 as Tehnica Schweiz (TSCH). The majority of TSCH projects are process-based and work around the theme of community. Recent work, such as The Garage Project (2007-2009), The Collective Man (2008-2010) and The Heroes of the Shaft (2010), involve the participation of a large group of volunteers. All TSCH projects engage in extensive research and at times also archival work. Tehnica Schweiz has exhibited internationally, includeding: Secession Wien, Ernst Museum Budapest, ISCP NY, NBK Berlin, ZTK Karlsruhe. Tehnica Schweiz is a founding member and representative of Lumen Photography Foundation in Budapest and also member of POC – Piece of Cake, international network for contemporary images.

Founded in 2003, threewalls’ is dedicated to increasing Chicago’s cultural capital by cultivating contemporary art practice and discourse. With a focus on the practices of local artists and administrators or visiting artists interested in regional history and culture, we aim to create a locus of exchange between local, national and international contemporary art communities that builds Chicago’s reputation as an important site for creative research and production.

threewalls operates three programs: six exhibitions per year that support local artists through SOLO and group exhibitions; a series of public programs that explore current ideas in art and culture (The Public Culture Lecture Series, threewallsSALONS and a biannual symposium on grass-roots and community organized cultural administration) and a residency that invites artists from around the world to engage in regionally site-specific research or projects. threewalls is also joint administrator of The Propeller Fund with Gallery 400 at The University of Illinois at Chicago.

threewalls is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; by a CityArts Program I grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; The Chicago Community Trust; The Cliff Dwellers Foundation for the Arts; ArtsWork Fund for Organizational Development; The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; The Alphawood Foundation; The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation; 3Arts Chicago; and major support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. threewalls is sponsored by Pernod Absinthe. Support threewalls by visiting our website and making a tax-deductible donation: www.three-walls.org/about/support/.



Program Director

N. Peoria #2C
Chicago, IL