József Balogh was a cobbler in the village of Pribeník in South-Eastern Slovakia. He started to decorate his house in the 70’s and kept doing it until his death in 2009.
He was roaming the region for some 40 years on his modified bicycles, collecting trash to make poetry from. He was excited by what blind chance brought before him, and by the idea that he could find something he’d never even considered before and then magically make something valuable out of it.
He would compose his ready-made and assemblage works from junk. Colourful pinwheels and mutilated dolls hacked onto thrown out bicycle wheels, resembling some sort of strange Eastern European dreamcatcher from a long forgotten tradition. Plastic flasks cut in half and filled with flamboyantly-coloured plastic flowers, placed carefully on this ever-growing body of art. He constantly re-invented the random objects he found, placing them in relation to each other, giving value to the worthless. Using smashed pottery, thrown-out glass and porcelain waste, he created untold fairy-tales, born as mosaics on the walls of his house.
Raw, independent creativity, which in itself is wonderful and very uplifting. Despite the fact that it’s gone now.
exhibited video: Peter Kerekes, József Balog Pribeník 66, 16mm film, 1996
photos: collected from locals (featured here: István Fülöp, Zoltán Leczo, Szilvia Czompoly)