Still Life the Ludwig Museum’s lesser-known staff

Museum staff, including gallery attendants, ticket sellers, cloakroom attendants, and technical staff, exhibit different characteristics depending on the era, country, or culture. It is important to note that these characteristics may vary widely. There was a time when refined, sophisticated women knitted next to the artworks. Nowadays, young immigrants are often responsible for the works created by the artistic elite in some countries, while still-active retirees choose this relatively calm, predictable, and quiet job to supplement their income in others. 

As part of the project, Viktória Popovics and József Készman asked me to work with lesser-known staff at the Ludwig Museum in Budapest. As a first step, I conducted interviews. The interviews were about previous experiences, museum work, visitor habits and interpretation of contemporary art. Using individual examples that summarised the life experiences of the contemplative workers, I later created still lifes of these quiet lives. I presented them to the participants on 19 December 2023.

Ujlaky Aurél csendélete, 2023

To share the many experiences of Ludwig’s lesser-known staff with other staff and managers of the institution, I have created a publication. In addition to portraits and still lifes, the publication contains extracts from interviews. The experiences of the non-curatorial staff provide a perspective close to that of the visitors in understanding and nuancing the discourse on culture. The diverse opinions and life experiences of individuals from a variety of backgrounds provide insights into the Ludwig Museum and the wider art establishment. This contributes to a better understanding of contemporary art and its place in the hierarchy of the art world.

I would also like to thank the staff of the Ludwig Museum for their openness and trust!

Browse the publication here

Csendes élet – A Ludwig kevésbé ismert dolgozói

Teremőrök, jegyeladók, ruhatárosok, technikus munkatársak, vagyis a múzeumok személyzete koronként, országonként, kultúránként más-más jellemzőket mutat. Volt idő mikor deklasszált, elegáns úrinők kötögettek a műtárgyak mellett. Van olyan ország, ahol többnyire bevándorló fiatalok vigyázzák a művészeti elit által létrehozott munkákat és van, ahol a még aktív nyugdíjasok választják ezt a viszonylag nyugodt, kiszámítható, csendes munkakört, hogy kiegészítsék bevételüket.

A projekt során Popovics Viktória és Készman József felkérésére a budapesti Ludwig Múzeum kevésbé ismert dolgozóival kezdtem közös munkába. Először életútinterjúkat készítettem. A beszélgetések alatt külön hangsúlyt kaptak a korábbi tapasztalatok, a múzeumi munka, a látogatók szokásai és a kortárs művészet értelmezése. E szemlélődő munkakörök élettapasztalatait magukba sűrítő egyéni példák alapján végül csendéleteket készítettem, csendéleteket a csendes életekről, melyeket 2023. december 19-én, egy zárt körű eseményen adtam át a résztvevőknek.

A Ludwig kevésbé ismert dolgozóinak sokrétű meglátásait végül egy kiadványban összegeztem, hogy a tapasztalatok az intézmény más dolgozóihoz, vezetőihez is eljusson. A portrék és csendéletek mellett a kiadványban a beszélgetések kivonatait olvashatják. A teremőrök és más, nem kurátori munkakörben dolgozó munkatársak meglátásai olyan nézőpontot hoznak be a kultúra megértésébe és a róla szóló diskurzus árnyalásába, mely közel áll a látogatókéhoz. Gazdag, különböző háttérből megfogalmazott véleményük, élethelyzetük a Ludwig Múzeumról és tágabban a művészeti intézményrendszerről mesél, a kortárs művészet, a szcéna hierarchiájában rögzített szerepek mélyebb megértéséhez segít hozzá.

A kiadvány itt lapozható végig:

Still Life – the Ludwig Museum’s lesser-known staff , a project by Krisztina ERDEI.

Caring is a common experience for all of us, and it shapes our lives from the moment of birth until death. It can be interpreted on the personal level (self-care) or projected onto relationships between people (maternal or parental care, elderly care), but can also be extended to caring for nonhumans and, in a broader sense, for the Earth itself. The multifaceted concept of care also has strong economic and political dimensions: care crisis, care migration, global care chains and their impact are among the most pressing issues of our time.

Still Life – the Ludwig Museum’s lesser-known staff , a project by Krisztina ERDEI. Ujlaky Aurél. He has been working at the Ludwig Museum for several years.

The exhibition’s title Handle with Care refers to the vulnerability of those in need of care, the asymmetrical relationship between carer and cared for, the fragility of life and our ecosystem, and the cracks and gaps in the social care system, but most of all, it calls attention to the need for collective responsibility. Finally, it can also be applied to the role of the museum itself, which, beyond the careful management of artworks, faces new tasks and challenges that affect society. In a time of multiple crises – social, economic, ecological, health crisis – the exhibition seeks to answer the question of how to interpret the changing notion of care and the role of art (and the museum) in rethinking it. Bearing in mind the original meaning of the word curator (curare: to care, to nurture, to heal), what are the pillars of a ‘caring’ museum? How can an art institution become more sensitive to social issues, more inclusive, more open, more accessible, in short, a more relevant place?

Caring permeates almost every aspect of our social reality today. It is partly in the wake of pandemic COVID-19 that the that both collective and individual care, has been brought into sharper focus than ever before. The pandemic has shed a harsh light on the politics of care, has shown the heavy burden on women, on social workers and the inequality in the gender distribution of caring work. It has also highlighted issues relating to the role of governmental care, the primacy of economic interests and the autonomy of the individual.

This exhibition raises questions rather than providing ready answers to these problems. The different artistic positions take up different points of view and the diversity of the issues raised underlines the fact that care is a key concept of our time with a critical potential that cannot be neglected.


Curators: Rita Dabi-Farkas, Viktória Popovics
Concept: Viktória Popovics

Exhibiting Artists:


Contributors: ERDEI Krisztina, JÁSDI Juli, KÁLLAY Eszter, PÓCSIK Andrea és OLÁH Norbert, RomaMoMA Nomadic Library, Romani Design

The unknown workers of the Ludwig Museum, a project by Krisztina ERDEI. Pop Ari. She has been working at Ludwig since 2006


The Kassák Contemporary Art Prize was established in 2022 by Dr. István Argay, a physician and art collector, as founder, and the Petőfi Literary Museum – Kassák Museum as institutional partner, to encourage the creation of contemporary art works and projects. In 2023, the Rechnitzer Collection joined the initiative as a special patron. The project is coordinated by the Interart Foundation.

The Kassák Prize for Contemporary Art is open to projects that explore or reinterpret in a contemporary way the phenomena of twentieth-century avant-garde art and the issues raised by avant-garde movements. The competition is open to the creation of a new work of art or project embedded in an exhibition.

TONES – New Music in the Historical Avant-garde

10 December 2022 – 11 June 2023

Among the artistic movements of historical modernism, countless theories, ideas and manifestos emerged that offered new alternatives to traditional concepts of music. Even the concept of music itself changed fundamentally: the arrival of sound recording devices extended possibilities to capture everyday sounds, the exclusivity of tonal sound structures was questioned, and composers and performers experimented with new, mechanical sound-producing tools and compositional methods. However, it was only after the Second World War that these new ideas became fully realised with the advent of electronic instruments.

Erdei KrisztinaRiseset, Victory Over the Sun,13 framed photos, 2 gif loops, video [13:00], 2020,  Fotó: Gál Csaba (PIM – Kassák Múzeum)
This exhibition presents a selection of innovative musical endeavours from the period, based on music theory texts and artworks published in Lajos Kassák’s journals Ma (Today) and Dokumentum (Document), published during the 1920s, and explores the most important Hungarian forums for modern musical trends, with interviews tracing the later history of the new music.
In addition, works by contemporary artists and composers revisit and re-interpret earlier avant-garde endeavours and experiments. 

Exhibiting artists: Zsófia Ádám, János Bali, Bálint Bolcsó, Krisztina Erdei, Réka Farkas-Kovách, Samu Gryllus, Csanád Kedves, Krisztián Kertész, Áron Lakatos, Eszter Nádas, Zsófia Nagy, Péter Tornyai, Zsombor Tóth, Dániel Váczi

Vernissage: 6pm, 9 December 2022
The opening will feature the premiere of Andrea Szigetvári’s work for mechanical piano, Peano Piano – Fractal Sonification. Both the instrument and the opportunity to rehearse were provided by the Budapest Music Center. 

Curator: Judit Csatlós
Curator’s assistant: Eszter Rácz
Music expert: Andrea Szigetvári
Music history expert: Andrea van der Smissen
Installation design: Studio Nomad
Graphic design: Nagy Orsolya Cecília – Umlauf Adrienn


Krisztina Erdei performed the 1913 opera Victory over the Sun for a flock of sheep while working as a shepherd in Turkey in 2009. The performance and installation set up a collision between two types of social experiment: the Russian avant-garde utopia of a future without a past, and a contemporary eco-village project. Through her own personal experience, Erdei explores various notions of work, utility, and purpose.

The opera was written in the spirit of passion for technology, and combined the ideas of its creators [Aleksei Kruchonykh, Velimir Khlebnikov, Mikhail Matyushin, and Kazimir Malevich] on the interconnection of space and time, the fourth dimension, and radical transformation of the political system. At the heart of the plot was the victory over the sun, which symbolised nature and the old world, paving the way for the rise of the ‘new man.’ Every element of the opera sought to express a cosmic vision of the future. Only fragments of Matyushin’s score have remained, while a large part of the libretto was written by Kruchonykh and Khlebnikov in their own ‘Zaum’ language. The composers combined language ‘beyond meaning’ with a futurist vision of the future. By using suggestive sounds, word and sentence fragments, neologisms, and nouns with changed genders, they sought to liberate the mind from traditional thought patterns. While translating the work into Hungarian, Erdei replaced the original novel linguistic phenomena with phrases popularly used online, referred to as a digilect.