Nearly 3000 years ago, a tiny, unknown people, trapped between the great empires of the Ancient Orient, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, told incredible stories about a flow of interconnected events that have travelled through time and space, surviving changing historical eras and cultures. This primeval narrative is recreated by the text of Frédéric Boyer and the drawings of Serge Bloch. Exile, migration, encounters and discoveries come to life, the account becomes our own story.
Who has not felt the need to pass on a story one has read or heard? Tales are kept alive by being conveyed between people, they travel from one person to another, through time and space, connecting cultures. The Bible was born in the midst of passages and exiles and the exhibition
“Once upon Many Times” invites us to make a journey of our own: we can wander among these ancient stories, surrounded by image and sound. The idea took off due to an encounter between drawing artist and illustrator Serge Bloch and writer and translator Frédéric Boyer. They related to each other what they had heard, seen and understood of this nearly 3000-year old saga... They recount the episodes of the Old Testament to their fellow contemporaries in modern language and an animated, lively style.
The exhibition introduces visitors to the playful yet serious work of the two authors. The Budapest Kunsthalle presents nine animation films in three rooms of the Műcsarnok#Box together with the visual world of Serge Bloch’s graphics and pages from his book. The animations cover mainly the most familiar stories from the Book of Genesis: the Creation narrative, the Paradise, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark with Abraham, Sarah and Noah, the Battle of Jericho from the Book of Joshua or the prophet Jonah’s Call from the Book of Jonah. The exhibition allows visitors to experience immanent human feelings and situations, such as love, jealousy, exile... In addition to the ancient foundational narratives– as it happens, shared by the three monotheistic religions − of Western culture we also come to face with the world we are currently living in. We are also part of this chronicle and should be aware that it is our own story indeed.
All films are narrated in French by actor André Dussollier with consecutive Hungarian and English sub-titles. At the Budapest exhibition, two episodes are shown, narrated by Tamás Dunai.
The exhibition Once upon Many Times was first presented in 2016 in a metropolitan art space The CENTQUATRE-PARIS, one year later in the religious environment of the monastery of Chartreuse de Villeneuve les Avignon, then in Krakow during an artfair. Most recently it was seen in Geneva at the International Museum of the Reformation within the context of the history of the reformation.
Bible – Les récits fondateurs, a book by Frédéric Boyer and Serge Bloch was published in 2016 by Bayard Presse. The Hungarian edition Biblia – Az ősi történetek was published by Scolar/Vivandra with the translation of Zsolt Pacskovszky.
The Budapest exhibition was conceived by the owners of Latitude bookstore and it was realized by the cooperation of the Műcsarnok, the French Institute, the Scolar and Vivandra publishers.
Curator: Zsuzsanna Zsuzsa