Victor Vasarely International Contest For Art In Public Space III

The Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer of Budapest is announcing an art contest by the title Victor Vasarely International Contest for Art in Public Space. The contest is the third stage of a long-term project launched by the city of Pécs and the Vasarely Foundation (Aix-en-Provence) in 2010.

1. The aim of organising the contest

is to create a new and permanent work of art in one of the designated public areas in Óbuda, which is in line with the curatorial concept, has an appropriate connection to the art of Victor Vasarely, and helps to further elevate the standard of cultural life in Óbuda.
The contest is open and international. The topic of the contest is determined by the artistic concept defined by the curator. There are no genre stipulations, a work of art of any genre that respects the artistic concept may be entered into the contest. The organiser designates two locations as the location of the work, but in accordance with the jury’s decision, only one work of art will be realised within the scope of the contest.

2. Curatorial Concept

The curator of the project is Finnish art historian and internationally renown curator Maaretta Jaukkuri.

Water Sculpture

“The wise man loves water.”

The theme of the 2017 VICTOR VASARELY INTERNATIONAL CONTEST FOR ART IN PUBLIC SPACE III is water. Water is the basis of life and has throughout history gathered a myriad of symbolic meanings.
It has been held sacred in religions, it has created gods and goddesses, it has served in rituals and challenges that have purified and tested human body and soul. Artists of all times and cultures have also been inspired and challenged by its “physical, pre-semiotic properties of water when they use it as a medium or material for art-making.” (David Clark, Water and Art)

Budapest is a city of water and its underground geothermal springs and caves make it the largest known thermal cave system in the world.
The idea of water as the theme of this program took shape during my visit to Óbuda last autumn. Óbuda is the oldest part of Budapest. It is a historically dense area with buildings dating back to the Roman period while the centre is characterized by old baroque buildings and the new blocks of flats built during the 60s and 70s. While walking in the streets of Óbuda, I started thinking how much history the milieu contains and how it is both visible and invisible. I had a feeling of an excess of stories, meanings, and symbols. When thinking about this experience afterwards, I felt that there was an invitation to get a breathing space, a moment of letting go, a physical situation and a moment to reflect one’s own experiences and feelings. This led to the choice of water as the theme, concept and material of this project. The presence of water with its fluidity and its impact on the surrounding area as well as the way it lives with the weather reminds us something of the basic conditions of life.
In this connection, water is understood as a medium and material for art. Its visual presence is all-important, but its role and function in the work is free to be defined by the artist. We will look more for what water can express or contribute to giving shape and meaning for our time. Paraphrasing George Bataille’s idea, we can think of what is water’s “job” or what it does rather than its literal meaning.
Water in this connection can be seen both a noun and a verb.
Water in contemporary consciousness is also imbued with its present state often seen as an offer but also threat to life due to the dangerous levels of pollution in the oceans of the globe. Here, however, we can think of water in all shades of its chemical, biological, symbolic and cultural meanings.
The presence of water creates a feeling that is simultaneously something primal, but also philosophical and cultural. Understood in this way, the question is also about art’s freedom to shape its view of our time to be shared with other people.
It has also been noted that water shares some of the characteristics of our era: it is fluid, changes its shape and composition in accordance with the forces that surround and impact it. Here the similarity is also paradoxical as while sharing qualities of this time, it also has something eternal about it. It is a necessity to life, but it has also a unique presence; it is beautiful, mysterious and playful.
Artists are invited to present their ideas of combinations of sculpture and water or water sculptures. The combinations of water and art are usually conceived as fountains. Fountain is, however, not the thematic premise of this project, instead we see water as a possible medium in a wide range of sculptural possibilities.
Water reflects light and is imbued by the optical-kinetic visuality that was so close to the philosophy of Victor Vasarely, the artist in whose name this competition is arranged. Vasarely was also keenly aware of the role of the spectator in art as well as the by now crucial discussion of the necessity for art and science to engage in dialogues and together work for the values which today incorporate the living conditions of both humans and nature. In his Notes Brutes (1972) he writes: The art of the past drew on a more restricted view of nature, immediately accessible to our senses. But science has shown us that nature is infinitely more vast … We’re projected into unknown structures. Outside the human scale, between atoms and nebulae, the soul is just a beam of homogenous waves… Our egocentric vision must develop in the direction of total community consciousness…We are no longer static contemplators, but dynamic participants… (Paroles d’Artiste, Victor Vasarely, Éditions Fage, 2016)
I prefer to call the place/space created by this work rather common or shared than public. The idea of a public space implies that someone is addressing you. Common space is a place to share experiences where the onlooker is seen as a participant in the process of realizing a moment of art. This idea was clearly expressed by Marcel Duchamp in a talk that he gave in 1957 when he said: “All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualities and thus adds to the creative act.” (The Writings of Marcel Duchamp, ed. Michel Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson) This understanding is very much part of the dynamics of contemporary art and, in particular, in cases where works are in public/common spaces.
This was also one of the main tenets of Victor Vasarely’s thinking. “I’ve often said: the art of privileged few must become that of the community. The main thing is to resolve this transition, both technically and aesthetically.” (Paroles d’Artiste)

Conditions of Entry

The applicant must register ont he website of the contest. Registration is free of charge. We request you to register until October 29, 2017.

The international Jury

  1. Maaretta Jaukkuri, curator, art historian (Finland), chairperson (two votes)
  2. Balázs Bús, Mayor of the Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer (Hungary)
  3. Pierre Vasarely, chairman of the Vasarely Foundation, Aix-en-Provence, (France)
  4. Dorothy Cross, sculptor, (Ireland)
  5. Rosa Martinez, curator, art historian (Spain)
  6. Éva Varga, sculptor (Hungary)
  7. Márton Orosz, art historian, head of the Vasarely Museum in Budapest (Hungary)
  8. András Horváth, architect, representative of the city of Pécs (Hungary)
  9. Zoltán Bencze, architect, Southern Transdanubian Chamber of Architects (Hungary)
  10. Katalin T. Nagy, art historian, the art director of the project (Hungary)

The Documentation of the Call for Proposals

I. Locations designated in Óbuda-Békásmegyer for the realisation of the project

1. Csobánka Square

The central square of the district of Békásmegyer, one of the most important community spaces serving the cca. 35,000 residents of the housing estate. The Community Centre of Békásmegyer, which offers cultural programmes for the locals, is located here, along with several medical centres and the Veres Péter Secondary School of Békásmegyer.

2. The empty lot delimited by Serfőző, Tanuló and Óbuda Streets

The Church of Saint Peter and Paul stands next to the presently grassy area, a little further away is Aquincum Hotel Budapest on the riverbank. The district plans to transform this area located at the Buda side of Árpád Bridge into a real community space. It will connect two characteristic neighbourhoods of Óbuda: the Krúdy district, which includes cultural venues (Óbuda Circle, Museum of Trade and Catering) and old and renown restaurants (Kéhli Restaurant, Mókus Beer Garden); and Fő tér, the main square of Óbuda, a highlight of which is the Zichy Castle, the home of several museums, including the Vasarely Museum.

II. Information appendices to the call for proposals

1. maps
2. photographs
3. panorama
4. drone-records

III. Method and conditions of participation in the contest

The contest has two rounds. The method of participating in the first round:

1. Online registration is a condition of entry to the competition.
Online registration is possible until October 29, 2017 at the website

2. Applicants must submit their proposals in a digital form to the surface indicated on the website between October 14 2017 and 12:00 (midnight) CET, October 29, 2017. Following registration, visitors will be able to log in to the site with their email address and password. After loggin in, applicants will be able to fill out the data sheet, accept the declaration and upload their proposals.
They may return to their profile until the given deadline to make necessary modifications. After the expiration of the deadline, no additional modifications can be made. The proposal is to contain the entire documentation described in Section IV. If the proposal is selected to participate in the second round of the competition, the necessary additional documentation can be uploaded to the existing profile.

Submissions arriving late will not be taken into consideration.

The international jury will select a minimum of 10, maximum of 12 works from the proposal submissions, applicants will be notified about the decision of the jury by November 20 the latest. The artists selected by the jury will participate in the second round of the contest.

The Municipaltity of Óbuda-Békásmegyer will organise an exhibition of the works of artists participating in the second round of the contest at the Esernyős Gallery and publish a catalogue. The participants of the second round will receive an award of EUR 1,000, the creator of the winning proposal will receive an award of EUR 6,000. The name of the winner – the creator of the work to be realised – will be announced by the Mayor of the Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer at the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition will open in early March, 2018. The winning proposal will be granted the title “The winning work of the Victor Vasarely International Contest for Art in Public Space”.
The work of art winning the contest will be realised by the organiser, the Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer. A budget of EUR 50,000 is available for the realisation of the work. After granting the award, the Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer will sign a realisation commission contract with the creator of the winning work of art. The Municipality of Óbuda-Békásmegyer will assist the creator of the work in obtaining the necessary planning and licensing permits. In case of a winner from abroad, the municipality and the organisers of the contest will provide all the administrative and technical assistance necessary for the preparation and the realisation of the work.

The deadline for the realisation of the proposal: October 30, 2018.

The language of the call for proposals: English and Hungarian

Information on the call for proposals is available on the website in Hungarian and English.
Please submit additional enquiries to the e-mail address

IV. Information appendices, declarations to the call for proposals

Registration (free)

Deadline: October 29, 2017

First round

Submission deadline: October 29, 2017

  1. Datasheet: The personal details of the Applicant: full name, place and date of birth, notification address, e-mail address, telephone number.
  2. Short curriculum vitae (max. 5,000 characters with space), reference works (photos of max. 5 works)
  3. Artistic concept and description of the work: a short presentation of the ideas to provide an understanding of the planned work. A draft/plan of the work of art designated for the selected location.
  4. Description of the material of the work, its dimensions, the technology of its realisation
  5. The estimated cost of the realisation of the work of art. The organizers will provide the necessary assistance to foreign artists in estimating the costs of the construction of the work.
  6. A visual design embedded into the surroundings (drawing, computer animation, photograph), which clearly demonstrates the method of the positioning of the planned work, its connection with the environment, and its scale.
  7. In the case of group proposals: a cooperation declaration not dependent on any particular form with the naming of the project leader.


Announcement of winners: between November 9-16, 2017
Second round

Submission deadline: March 15, 2018

  1. A proposal elaborated in detail. (in pdf format)
  2. The submission of a 1:10 – 1:50 scale model in a physical or digital form (3D visalisation or photo). Photograph submissions should include images taken from a minimum of 4 different angles (minimum size: 2MBs). One angle must clearly demonstrate the actual size of the work of art and the size of the pedestal, if there is any.
  3. A visual design presenting a view of the work of art within the context of its surroundings, from a minimum of 3 different angles by way of a photograph of the model inserted into a colour photograph (minimum size: 2 MBs).
    (We appreciate ideas and suggestions for landscaping and the transformation of the wider surroundings.)
  1. Cost and time plan, which includes the costs of the realisation of the plan, the positioning and possible operation of the work, and copyrights. The cost and time plan must take into consideration the available budget and scheduled deadlines.
  2. Creator and data handling declaration – made by signing the contest participation conditions and declaring the intent to realise the work – if the work is selected as the winning entry by the judging committee.

Announcement of the winner: at the opening of the exhibition presenting the works of art selected for the second round of the contest, between April 16-20, 2018.