Invaliden1 is proud to announce the solo exhibition False Testimony by the Hungarian
artist Hajnal Németh. In her first exhibition at the gallery Németh presents an operatic short
film as well as an installation of objects and photographs related to the subject.
False Testimony (a Version of the Version) is a recorded opera performance based on the
story of an actual historical event that took place in the years 1882 and 1883 in the
Hungarian village of Tiszaeszlár. This blood libel and show trial, today known as the
“Tiszaeszlár Affair”, was widely sensationalized, greatly influencing later developments of
anti-Semitism in Hungary. A firsthand description of the trial, the book The Great Trial, was
published by Károly Eötvös in 1902, the defence lawyer who secured an acquittal for the
In addition to the novel, other artistic publications and productions were produced on a
local as well as international level. The film Verzió (1981), by Miklós Erdély, focuses
specifically on the inculcated testimony of the primary witness, 14-year-old Móric Scharf.
During the trial the boy claimed to have witnessed the defendants, people from the Jewish
community, murdering a girl in order to use her blood during the approaching Passover.
The lyrics in the composition in the opera are based on rephrased fragments from the
film’s dialogue. The structure of the performance follows the method of secret inculcation
and forced learning: mastering the false testimony; the validation of a lie; the course of the
fictitious conception through the psyche, its registration by external and internal forces, its
development into conviction and its ultimate and fatal proclamation.
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In her short film False Testimony Hajnal Németh re-enacts an important moment of the
Tiszaeszlár trial in a contemporary setting, the interior of an office, revealing the
significance of this historical event for the present. While engaged in the re-enacted
process of the enforcement of anti-Semitic testimony, the performers are doing their job
undisturbed – “as if nothing happened” (see the KissPál - Marcos essay). The current
exhibition elaborates the relationship between this historical event – which signifies the
beginning of modern anti-Semitism in Hungary – and the present.
The photographs Silent Place 1, Silent Place 2 and Loud Place were taken in two
locations, the village of Tiszaeszlár and in the City Hall of Nyíregyháza. The later, shown
empty and in its present state, is the very place where the Tiszaeszlár trial once took place
(Silent Place 1). The former constitutes a double topography - a Jewish graveyard,
abandoned since the Holocaust and enclosed today by a concrete wall without any sign
referring to its identity, and a Christian cemetery, one that contains a false grave of Eszter
Solymosi, the alleged victim whose body was lost during the trial proceedings, erected in
the mid-90s and used to this day by radical right-wing organizations as a site for public
The photo Silent Place 2 depicts an unfinished memorial plaque installed inside the Jewish
cemetery. The plaque serves as a reminder that present-day Hungarian society should
reflect upon the role of the Tiszaeszlár trial in Hungary's modern history and its
significance for our post-Holocaust era. The object Option is a small replica of the original
plaque containing a poetic inscription by Hajnal Németh.
The photo series Loud Place shows the aftermath of right-wing commemoration rituals
performed at the false grave of Eszter Solymosi. The slogans on the funeral wreaths, in
their hand-written style, allude to the connection between the acts of accusation and the
subjectivities performing them. In connection with Loud Place, the installation False
Testimony Twice contains another hand-written element, namely two transcripts of the
original testimony given before the court in 1882/83.
False Testimony (A Version of the Version) – operatic short film, 2012 (Full HD, Stereo, 17'18”)
Author: Hajnal Nemeth //Composer: Reinhard Hoffmann //Assistant: Annette Wiegand //
Performers: Tobias Müller-Kopp (baritone) as Kálmán Péczely, court clerk,Christian Miebach
(tenor) as Móric Scharf, crown witness ,The Jazzchor Berlin Vokal as the tussling psyche //
Chorus-master: Michael Betzner-Brandt // Camera: István Imreh // Sound: Fabien Leseure // Post
production: Yensin Jahn – PlanetRoc Studio // Recorded at: David Chipperfield Architects Studio,