You Never Know

Tüzoltó Utca 72

You Never Know, a three-man artists’ group from Vienna, described their onenight exhibition in Budapest as a “euphoric, vague situation.” Now Budapest is a place, like many probably, where vague situations are not rare, but ones that are both euphoric and vague are good deal less frequent. The group members present themselves as oddballs just trying to connect, often employing minimal forms, light, video, and sound, in ways, to quote one of the members, that are “overwhelming, precise and easy.” They seek to seduce with simplicity and their production has a dumb confidence about it that ends up convincing you about their project. Even the group’s name—You Never Know—presumes that they may know something basic that you don’t.

You Never Know began their infiltration into Budapest some weeks before opening night by sending ahead hundreds of stickers printed with the words “You Never Know.” They were snatched up immediately, and began popping up all over town, imparting a funny, fatalistic wisdom to anything to which they were stuck.

Their show in the Tüzoltó street, old-pasta-factory-cum-exhibition space consisted of a large white inflated ball with eight protrusions that was sprayed with water from 20 feet away to the rhythm of You Never Know’s “World Record”—a sound loop of samples “from everywhere” with a slow-motion beat. Plus two videos: one just a wacky black-and-green pattern, the other a human (probably) struggling to get out of a large green garbage bag. But these were just sideshows. The main attraction was the “water-projection” onto the big white blow-up thing that looked as if it were capable of independent life. The light playing across this elementary structure, which the group dubbed the “sympathy carrier,” turned it into an erotic and exotic being.

Nothing was left to chance in the attempt to lure the public into their world of matter, energy, and endless flow. The lights were just right, the weather was hot, the beer was cold: it sort of made you wonder why all exhibitions don’t feel this good. But wasn’t it sort of synthetic? Should we all be so enamored with dumb fun? Shouldn’t there be more to art than good vibes? We may never know. Believing happens by itself.

Diana Kingsley