Litera.hu, January 28, 2014, Lajos Jánossy
— Do you remember the founding of Spanyolnátha, the first ideas, participants and if there was a specific reason for it?
The first issues of Spanyolnátha were published as ”diffluent artistic greeting cards” at hamismas.hu, my website back then. Since 2005 we have been functioning as an artistic dormitory at spanyolnatha.hu. We took on regular publications, “art journalism” itself in 2006: the Ifjúsági és Szabadidő Ház of Miskolc asked us to organize presentations about our new issues there. They have an internet café and they offered to sponsor us if we could bring life to the place. We found our home there and an opportunity for long term plans: we organized presentations, “Szabó+” performances, international mail-art exhibitions and also ran a workshop there in cooperation with the University of Miskolc and the College of Eger. At the same time we started the Önök Kerték Garden Festival at our editorial offices in Hernádkak, started our own book series and later the International Mail Art Colony: thanks to these projects Hernádkak got more attention and every three months this editorial office also got filled with life and programmes, just like the “Spanyolnátha-pont” in Miskolc. Thanks to Herman Ottó Múzeum—Miskolci Galéria our workshop is now held at the Teátrum Pincehely Galéria and we also have an office in Budapest thanks to the SPN Krú (Zsolt Székelyhidi deputy chief editor, Attila Berka fellow editor). Who were the authors in the first issues? If we only look at the first year we had writings by Robert Balogh, Béla Bodor, Imre Furman, Attila Jász, Judit Ágnes Kiss, József Lapis, Balázs Lázár, Roland Málik, Zoltán Onagy, Péter Oravecz, Imre Payer, Szilárd Podmaniczky, Zoltán Tolvaj and pictures by Ádám Faludi, Ottó Fenyvesi, Tibor Urbán, András Wahorn, Ervin Zsubori among others. Every one of our published issues (fifty-one “pieces”) is available in our archives.
— To what extent did you think of the site as a regional-cultural forum? Have you evaluated its place, the position of the site on the internet — to live by the fashionable phrase?
It would be a shame not to take advantage of the fact that we formally have three hot spots: the office of the publishing company (Példa Képfőiskola Kortárs Művészeti Alapítvány) and the main editorial office are in Hernádkak, but Miskolc is also an SPN base because of the location of SPN CsomóPont, our workshop and thanks to the SPN Krú, Budapest is also one. For me, Hernádkak is the number one, where I whole-heartedly keep the most of my Vass self. I have my study and my studio here, so this village became the SPN city-centre if I can use such a mixed metaphor. I was born in Miskolc, lived there for decades, that is where I always go home to with brain and brawn. Budapest is more brain than brawn for me: it was not hard to resist every call that tried to convince me to move there, although I do belong to the capital too. Once the heart, the spirit, the mind and the body are all taken, how could I? Well, let there be a strong heart and a mindful soul, so I can always have places to go home to in that city.
It does not make any use to think of these “axes” merely as regional forums; but we have always been paying particular attention to the values born in the county of Borsod.
— How did the structure of the site take shape? How did it gain a total art character?
It was obvious to me, as it is to someone who does art in several different forms, that amongst the leading art sites like Litera and the Literature Section of Terasz, only a journal with numbered volumes and issues inherited from printed press culture, one that works by deadlines, carefully revises its texts hence blends old fashioned but not outdated tradition with progressiveness and characteristically focuses on total art can make it to the third place in popularity. It was also clear that it is only worth working sanguinely and worthwhile in the future too since literary writing was not to get more emphasis than visual and acoustic poetry, electrography, installations, mail- and land-art, video poems or performances in my work either. The well-known correlation about eating or having your cake had to be reinvented in the case of Spanyolnátha.
If back in the middle of the ‘90s, as an editor of a local daily paper’s monthly issued literature inset I managed to get mail-art pieces, performance scripts, picture poems published, how could I do something less avant-garde than that ten years later? Spanyolnátha’s image soon became an important factor and the faithful readers of the journal are the X factor since the beginning, the Kak-period avant-garde is alive and is in the pink. And many other things which may be only novel for being born today and have no idea about advancement —that of course means no hindrance for us, in fact. Since the palette is full of colours and the reader’s browser gets well treated. Both the readers and the profession accepted that the journal is famous for not trapping but mapping the type of avant-garde that fits well with any hindrance. (E.g. the network connection is slow again.)
— Do you have any information about your readers? Which are the most popular publications?
Thanks to the analytics every online content has the chance to know their readers, so we certainly monitor who is watching us and which of our publications get the most attention. Many people check the documents (and stay on the webpages for longer periods) about performances by the SPN Krú, the HiperSpan column which works by the principles of hypertext, HangKöltészet block containing phonic poetry, the sections of Légyott-project organized in cooperation with Opera Festival in Miskolc, photo albums collecting pictures taken at our events, also many people are interested in the work we do in our Miskolc workshop in cooperation with Teátrum Pincehely Galéria, our columns named Szépírás and Papír/Vászon/Deszka a selection of visual art, photo and review materials.
— You strive for creating a conversation among branches of contemporary art. Can you recall any moment when this actually happened and is remarkable?
Well, practically something must happen in every issue that induces and effectively helps this conversation. There are certainly occasions where the passion of diversity is above average, one example is the block Madame Tompadour which appeared in our previous issue, the 50th. There were performance documentations, video works, photography, poetry, prose, graphic works and plays put into one block — this also turned the world upside—down since we wrote about what Madame Pompadour was up to in Hernádkak on the 50th birthday of Mihály Tompa. So there is no real need to borrow foolishness from the neighbour though the garden is always greener on the other side. So the conversation can be induced along such crazy but damn accurate and very serious projects: artists work on them with full creativity and the audience pays a lot of attention to them.
— Are there any aspects you would like to change? Do you have new plans for the “refreshment” of the journal?
Looking beyond our own premises I would like to change the public whining about the fact that culture politics, which has changed its texture and nature in many senses and in many people’s views during the last ten years, still has not realized the necessity for responsibly making a difference between the rank and order, the place and role and the “support factors” of online daily magazines and online journals. I would like to change things because I want to focus on the work we do and I would like to think that our merits are going to be scaled more and more by our performance. I have had enough of the flood of complaints which are only about the fact that many people consider chalk.com and cheese.hu to fall into the same internet category and that they do not differentiate between a periodical specifically edited for online appearance and online entities made for joy or necessity to somehow promote printed journals with a few hundred copies mostly handed out to fellow journals and hence both of which get approximately the same amount government fund by tenders. Facts are stubborn but we’d better do our job, that’s all. Leave me alone and let me have resources, reasons, and people to work for and Kak all. I would not want to read a history book in ten years that thematically lists those who failed to responsibly scale things in 2014 and missed to determine what counted as an exclusively online magazine with what rank, which portals proved to be only the online moneymaking subsidiary journals of printed start-up papers- the “hobby-lobby.hu portals”, which were the ones based on printed media and could be considered as significant partners or valuable extended versions and would have deserved to be distinguished from the average. This is not the most important thing. I am not a fan of “Let a hundred flowers blossom”, let all worlds growing and I do not like the idea of devil take the hindmost, the rotten.
My plan is that we stay alive or rather we’ll live forever.
— How do you celebrate this joyful 10th anniversary?
We are organizing eight exhibitions with the title Tízeset in the Herman Ottó Múzeum — Miskolci Galéria among which the 5th International Spanyolnátha Mail Art Biennial, an exhibition of Spanyolnátha Mail Art Nívódíj awarded works with the title Mi a bibi, a manuscript and photo exhibition called Teljességgel lehetetlen in cooperation with Szépírók Társasága, individual exhibitions of János Géczi and Antal Lux, an exhibition named Hapci! in cooperation with Nagy Kunszt Kortárs Képzőművészeti Tanulmányi Múzeum and a documentary exhibition about how the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic was represented in the contemporary media.
Our anthology Tízeset will be released by this year’s Ünnepi Könyvhét, our event series named TízEst has been on since last year — the latest event of the series we presented the play based on Zsolt Székelyhidi’s SPN-volume titled Űrbe! and performed by the SPN Krú and Harmadik Hang Háza. There will be readings, performances in villages, county towns and in the capital. There will be Garden Festivals where the winners of the contest “Uninvited Guest of the Year“ will get HernádCock lollypops wrapped in flu-juice soaked handkerchiefs. Though we try not to disgust and leave those who take us into consideration without a gesture: we have further pleasant surprises for our audience.