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MA

Hommage à Lajos Kassák

Founded, edited and published by Lajos Kassák, Ma [Today] became one of the longest surviving avant-garde periodicals in Europe (1916-1925). It succeeded A tett [The deed], which had been banned for including works from countries at war with Austria-Hungary. The Ma circle was a loose network with Kassák in the hub and a varying line-up of writers and artists, like Béla Uitz, Iván Hevesy, Sándor Bortnyik, Ernö Kállai, János Máttis Teutsch, László Moholy-Nagy and others. The word 'activist' appeared first in Ma's subtitle in February 1919. Kassák's circle named their movement Activism, placing a strong emphasis on the social role of art. Exhibitions, lectures and the pages of Ma sampled creations of Futurism, Expressionism, Cubism and Dadaism from all over Europe, promoted Bartók and modern music alongside new literature and a pioneering theatre of János Mácza. As a quirk of fate, the 1919 Commune that initially boosted avant-garde activity proscribed Ma within a few months for 'oozing bourgeois decadence'. Conversely, the Commune's overthrow exiled many modernists for their communist involvement. Ma moved to Vienna. In the mid-1920s many avant-gardists returned to Hungary hoping to nurture their inspirations on home soil at last. This new journal of Kassák, while it presented a well-established constructivist ideology, was unique in giving voice to emerging Hungarian surrealists in literature, like Andor Németh, Tibor Déry or Gyula Illyés, as well as West-European Surrealism. It stimulated another upsurge in Budapest's avant-garde life with new modernist periodicals sprouting. The optimism was, however, soon flattened by the lack of audiences and insufficient funds. Hungarian readers now preferred stability and harmony; the time of upheavals was effectively over. Dokumentum ceased after only five issues.

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