Damir Očko’s DICTA I at OFF-Biennale Budapest

23 April 2021

The third edition of OFF-Biennale Budapest (23 April – 30 May 2021), the largest independent contemporary art event in Hungary, presents Damir Očko’s film DICTA I as part of the exhibition Order and Dreams.

Titled INHALE!, this edition of the biennale takes the political poem A Breath of Air! (1935) by Attila József as its starting point. “In our 21st-century reading of the poem”, say the organizers, “a «breath of air» refers simultaneously to the galloping climate catastrophe and to the threat posed on civil liberties by populist regimes and global capital alike. To the vital substance that is more than a token of our survival: «fresh air»  is also a symbol of freedom—it can refer to a site or situation in which it is possible to breathe freely.”

Damir Očko’s film is closely connected to writing as well. DICTA I features a radical reading of a poem composed by the artist based on fragmented cut-outs from Bertolt Brecht’s Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties (1935). By cutting words out of the essay, Očko assembles a randomized speech that brings to mind the Dadaist practice of creating expressivity through nonsense, while also advancing a critical commentary on the construction of meaning in the age of “alternative facts”.

Image: video still from Damir Očko, DICTA I, 2017, 4k video transferred to full HD, duration: 12’17’’