Spanyolnátha művészeti folyóirat

Hajdu Mariann

The Spanyolnátha Phenomenon Is Palpable

An interview with Tibor Vass, founder and chief editor of the ten-year-old Spanyolnátha art journal

Észak-Magyarország, January 25, 2014, Mariann Hajdu



– Spanyolnátha is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. In what way is it different compared to the beginnings?

We did not become one of the like hunters, the clay pigeon shooters of the internet. Nor do we let the likes hunt us, or the clay pigeons to shoot back at us. But even on this beautiful hunting ground we have to realize that, just like anything else, Spanyolnátha was forced to change a lot during the last ten years. The internet consumes differently, the consumer uses the internet differently. One has to realize that the change did not only happen in the rhythm of our up- and downloads at home. It is funny that many are trying to catch the attention of new readers temporarily by changing the crazy slogans they squeezed out every year. Those we find funny laugh at us as we are busy with keeping our old slogans and continuously or even perpetually maintaining the attention and interest of our new readers. Our slogan has been the same since the beginning: You are what you do online. The fact that we did not have to change is quite an advantage.


– What was the reason behind the name Spanyolnátha?

In our publishing information section we have indicated since the beginning that among other things it is obeisance to Margit Kaffka, who lived and worked in Miskolc and was killed by the disease. Poet, writer and critic Guillaume Apollinaire was also taken by the Spanish Flu, just like the writer of Cyrano de Bergerac, the French poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand and the Austrian painter Egon Schiele. This is how we pay homage to them.

I was born in Miskolc, I live in Miskolc and Hernádkak so I had no doubt that I had to do something with my being from both places if I were to found an art journal. The artistic inheritance of the city is unquestionable; about my village it is enough to say that two important people with the name Mihály lived near where I live: Tompa and Csokonai Vitéz.

My permanent address is officially in Miskolc, my place of residence (it was called temporary address in the past) is the one in Hernádkak. Well, do we live where we are most of the time, or we are where we live most of the time? The question is not whether Csokonai wandered around the vineyards as a visitor, or with which contemporary artist did Mihály Tompa live habitually in Hernádkak. It is far more important to answer whether we want to and are capable of handling tradition responsibly.

It is no secret, I am not happy about the fact that the primary school at Hernádkak was named after King Matthias. It is all well and good, it happened in the memorial year of Renaissance, but this gesture could have been made by any other village. My mindset has always been the same: if we start something and it becomes part of our lives, we should not settle for being just like anyone else. I like Matthias very much, he must have set foot on our ground many times, nevertheless there is not even an alley named after Tompa in Hernádkak. In the offices of the journal, where we hold the Önök Kerték Garden Festival events, last year we opened a new section in the garden and named it Madame Tompadour. According to the fiction to celebrate our 50th publication, Madame Pompadour visited Hernádkak at Tompa’s 50th birthday and our editors created pieces about the encounter. This is at least as “offensive” or at least as absurd as giving a journal the name Spanyolnátha.


– It was quite uncommon back then to run a literary portal, there were not many online magazines about literature. (I remember our conversation around that time about the fact that many of the sites are arranged like printed magazines, but they are only available online.) Did the journal need to change and if yes, what kinds of changes were necessary in order to stay alive? (In what ways does it try to give more than other online journals?)

Spanyolnátha has never been a literary portal but it has never been an online magazine either. At we present an artistic journal called Spanyolnátha, a periodical only available online every two months. So it could only be compared to other online literary journals as much as the printed version of Élet és Tudomány can be compared to Élet és Irodalom.

The journal, just like the internet itself, is constantly evolving. Even on our fifth anniversary it was written that Spanyolnátha was the first art journal that certainly was not only affected by the internet but the internet was also affected by it. Five years passed since then. As it was survival before, now the question is “engraving progress into our everyday life”: how can we effectively imprint the idea of progressiveness while respecting and keeping traditions alive? How can we avoid being one who comfortably hangs around and follows trends and rather become one that forms, shapes the trend and sets examples in the sphere we live in?


– The profile of the journal was broadened in the process of time: for example with publishing books. In addition to this you also organize the Spanyolnátha International Mail Art Biennial, the Önök Kerték Spanyolnátha Garden Festival, and in connection to the Opera Festival the Légyott events. Why?

Correspondence with the audience could only stay on the virtual level for the first few years. We literally had to succumb to the pressure from our followers: Spanyolnátha had to be made tangible as well as the Spanyolnátha phenomenon itself, as it became one of the pledges of survival. Due to the fact that I cannot imagine a printed version of the journal – it was not meant to be handheld – but the editors, writers and readers are living beings and the works are palpable before we digitally publish them, we thought we should get to know each other’s most inner source code, the hot keys of our hearts. It is quite nice to see with our own eyes which keys are faded out the most on people’s keyboard. To see whose internet-tachycardia is more exciting, or more disturbing. On personal meetings and publication presentations we reveal our editors’ faces and the image of the journal we hand out our contributors’ own volumes, our anthologies: the results of the Spanyolnátha projects. More and more exhibitions, performances and concerts followed, and with their help we can now differentiate our regular, respectful readers and partners from the ones only secretly watching us and “lurking” at social websites. The Spanyolnátha book series is successful, as well as the Spanyolnátha International Mail Art Colony of Hernádkak and we also found a workshop at Teátrum Pincehely Galéria, where we also hold our open editorial office hours.


– At another occasion you mentioned that supporting young talents and organizing workshops for them was important for you. Is this still working? Did you succeed in nurturing a Spanyolnátha generation during the last ten years?

The opportunity of helping young people start their careers, just as the influence and range of activities of Spanyolnátha, continuously broadened and became stronger with time. We delegate our youngest writers to significant literary journals, generation anthologies. Artists who we helped have their debuts at prestigious exhibitions, perform at festivals. It is quite the honour for us that many of the newer artistic online periodicals mention Spanyolnátha in connection with their foundation: they mention it in their introductions, their interviews how our workshop influenced them.


– The journal celebrates its 10th anniversary with the title Tízeset, which in fact means eight exhibitions. How did you choose these?

In our series of programs by favour of Herman Ottó Múzeum – Miskolci Galéria, we organize the Nívódíj awards at the Spanyolnátha International Mail Art Biennial and the exhibition of the Spanyolnátha awarded artists at the 21st Miskolci Téli Tárlat and the 24th Miskolci Grafikai Triennále with the title, Mi a bibi. At the exhibition called (Ka)ssák túlélte, (Ka)ffka nem, one can see how the contemporary press reflected on the Spanish Flu in Miskolc. The pictures of our exhibition titled Teljességgel lehetetlen let us take a glimpse at our actions regarding public life and public education. The photographers also chose their photos to be paired with works published in the program series called A könyv utóélete, which we organized together with Szépírók Társasága. We also organize two individual exhibitions as well, from works by János Géczi and Antal Lux. We named the 5th International Mail Art Biennial “R_emarque”, to commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of World War I. We also have an exhibition titled Hapci! in cooperation with Nagy Kunszt Tanulmányi Múzeum, and in our workshop we provide sneak peeks of the Tízeset anthology which we will publish at Ünnepi Könyvhét.