The Indigo Group

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The InDiGo group was active from 1978 to 1986 in Budapest and was organically integrated in the progressive art scene of that period. Members of the group were young artists and intellectuals whose activity was barely tolerated and sometimes prohibited outright. The name of the group is a shortened form of INterDIszciplináris Gondolkozás (Interdisciplinary Thinking) and at the same time it refers to Miklós Erdély’s favourite medium of drawing: carbon paper (indigo in Hungarian). The Indigo group as a medium and a way of thinking combined the essential ideas of avant-garde art of the 1970s: reiteration, sequence, conceptualism, and intermedia. The group was led by Miklós Erdély, and among the members were artists and film makers such as András Böröcz, Ildikó Enyedi, László Révész, János Sugár and János Szirtes.

We can regard the consecutive Krecso [Creativity Exercises] (1975-77) and Fafej [Fantasy Developing Exercises] (1977) – art education courses conducted by Miklós Erdély – as antecedents of Indigo that can be conceptually paralleled with the results of creative research both in the USA (Watzlawick et al) and in Europe (E. Landau), and with the mentality of Fluxus (J. Beuys, R. Filliou). Dóra Maurer and György Galántai also contributed to the development of the Creativity Exercises. The way of thinking developed during these courses was realised in exhibitions. At the beginning, the participants made environments collectively, and in some cases they also presented performances at the openings of exhibitions. Through devising and creating these environments the group functioned as a creative entity, using the paradoxical nature of collective artwork. The exhibitions were characterised by questioning and by trying to expand the limits of contemporary concepts of art, primarily concentrating on mediation. The group’s creative method was built on processes well-known nowadays, such as brain-storming and group therapy.

At the beginning of the 1980s the group’s internal collaboration gradually loosened, and their exhibitions consisted of individual works mostly belonging to the genre of installation and object. In 1981 they took part in the post-conceptual tendencies show, part of the Tendencies exhibition-series that represented the Hungarian art of the 1970s. In 1982 they were invited to the Paris Biennial but were refused official permission to leave Hungary. In 1982-83 they worked at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest where, by creating a drawing course, they practiced drawing imitative-constitutive and subjective-gesture-like characters based on previously worked out themes. Their exhibitions usually took place in the cultural and educational centres of factories and at clubs popular with the underground culture of that period (i.e. The Young Artists' Club, The Bercsényi Club). The group established an alternative to the academic art education in the détente decade, and also provided a spiritual community for Miklós Erdély, who received no academic appreciation during his life. (sourced from Sándor Hornyik and Annamária Szőke's essay published in the 2008 Indigo book edited by A. Szöke)





  • Annamária Szőke, "Miklós Erdély and the Indigo Group. Photoworks from the 70s and 80s", in Miklós Erdély, ed. Annamária Szőke, Vienna: Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Budapest: Kisterem,, and Miklós Erdély Foundation (EMA), 2008, pp 51–54. (English)