Daniel Nagy: T.R. Project
What is the definition of Capitalism? The exploitation of man by man.
What is the definition of Communism? The exact opposite.
T.R. Project dealing with the forbidden political jokes from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. The name of the project (T.R. is the abbreviation for tiny revolutions) comes from one expression used by Orwell in an essay from 1945 which says that ’every joke is a tiny revolution’. The expression is often linked to the jokes created in the Soviet Union. Criticism of any kind against the system and implicitly about the political leaders was forbidden therefore there appeared a huge amount of underground jokes told around the kitchen table, laughing at all the aspects of daily life (politics, ideology, propaganda, economy, science, international relationships, lack of food, electricity, running water etc.). Since critical thinking was banned in the public space the jokes’ function was to show the truth behind the propaganda and to dismantle the lies promoted by the party doctrine. It was a social protest that brought down to a human level the untouchable leaders. Jokes tellers were almost the only active opposition to the one-party rule. Political jokes were very spread around the Soviet bloc but telling them was a risky business. It is said that Communism was laughed out of existence. None knows who invented these jokes, they were like oral tradition, a sort of neo folklore. One of the most prominent joke tellers was Karl Radek, a first-line Bolshevik who dared to laugh even at Lenin and Stalin. He died in a labour camp in 1939. The works contains bits of contemporary cultural, popular and political characters. Historical facts are updated to fit into our present day.
Daniel Nagy (b. 1981)
Romanian visual artist working and living in Oulu, Finland.
He graduated from the University of Arts and Design in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in 2006.
”Once upon time, in a land far, far away, people lived under very different political system, now lost in the mist of time. It was called Communism. The Communists said there would be more of everything under Communism, and they were right. The party conferences were larger, the queues were longer, there were
ten times as many secret policemen; and there wasn’t just one Germany, there were two. But there was one thing there was more of that anything else under Communism, and that was jokes.”