Artpool is an archive, a library and a research center founded in 1979 in Budapest by György Galántai and Júlia Klaniczay to collect and give space to current art practices that were mostly not accessible for the wide public due to the official cultural policies. Since then, Artpool and the two founders have been acting a hub of information, as an important node of the network of local artists while they have also been working hard on being in exchange of information and knowledge with the international art world in the past decades. Archiving and documenting was and still is the main goal of the institution: it started being a grassroots initiative operating “illegally” and without any financial support, then became officially acknowledged and operating from (moderate) funding by the Budapest Municipal Council in 1992 and currently it belongs to the institutional framework of the Museum of Fine Arts albeit residing in the same flat where it originally was established. Artpool is a crucial source of information when it comes to the alternative art of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ‘90s in Hungary, that enables the research of this period. The existence of the archive also stands as an example of strategies of self-organization in times when certain art forms are regarded as peripheric or confined to the zone of periphery: Artpool came into being from a desire of need to care for these forms of art.
Artpool’s collection mostly includes conceptual, performance, installation, and video art, as well as ephemeral mediums such as mail art and artists’ stamp sheets, postcards, rubber stamp imprints, artists’ writings and samizdat publications, correspondences, notes, plans, ideas, interviews, writings, works of art, photo documents, catalogs, invitation cards, bibliographies, chronologies, diagrams, video and sound documents, CD-Roms.
Besides visiting the archive, I also recommend the in-depth chronological volume entitled ARTPOOL – The Experimental Art Archive of East-Central Europe (eds. György Galántai, Júlia Klaniczay) has been published in 2013 that presents the reader with an overview of the history of the archive and its conditions of being.