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Sugarloaf Manufacture and Archive

The exhibition by Ilona Németh is part of the international art project "Eastern Sugar" about the changes in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Date :

24.04.2021 until 18.07.2021

Sugarloaf Manufacture and Archive
© Schafhof - Europäisches Künstlerhaus 


24 April ‒ 18 July, 2021: Exhibitions
Opening hours: Tue - Sat 2 - 7 pm, Sun + holidays 10 am - 7 pm and after appointment
The exhibition spaces and Café Botanika are wheelchair accessible.
Please observe the rules due to the lawful pandemic regulations and ask for information before visiting.

23 April, Friday 7 pm: EXCLUSIVE ONLINE livestreamed – exhibition opening
on-site participation is not possible due to the pandemic situation.
- Josef Mederer, president of the District Council
- Nina Vrbanová, art historian, Bratislava, curator of the exhibition Sugarloaf Manufacture and Archive
- Alexis Dworsky, artist, Freising, curator of the exhibition Crossing Borders

1 June, Tuesday 5 pm: meetup+art
Guided tour of the exhibitions with Alexandra M. Hoffmann*

13 June, Sunday 4 pm: KUNST#TAG 077
Artist talk with Ilona Németh and artists of the exhibition Crossing Borders
ONLINE livestreamed – on-site participation if possible*

Change of date! NEW: 4 July, Sunday 4 pm: KUNST#TAG 078
Lecture by Edit András, art historian, Budapest; afterwards
Artist talk with Ilona Németh and Edit András about the project Eastern Sugar
ONLINE livestreamed – on-site participation if possible*

* Due to the pandemic situation only a limited number of participants is allowed; prior registration and confirmation required: info@schafhof-kuenstlerhaus.de.


About the exhibition Sugarloaf Manufacture and Archive

Artist: Ilona Németh (SK)

in cooperation with:
Marián Ravasz, architecture
Olja Triaška Stefanović, photography
Martina Slováková, video

Curator: Nina Vrbanová, art historian, Bratislava

The project Eastern Sugar is co-financed by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. 

Co-funded by the Creative Europa Program of the European Union

Supported by:

  • Visegrad Fund
  • ERSTE Stiftung


The exhibition takes place as part of the international art project Eastern Sugar, initiated by the Hungarian-Slovak artist Ilona Németh. Six art institutions from six European countries collaborate in the project that is co-financed by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The project partners together organize projects, exhibitions, workshops and research work are over a two-year period.
A two-part presentation will take place at the Schafhof European Center for Art Upper Bavaria.

Eastern Sugar is an international, interdisciplinary, contemporary visual art project with a strong focus on artistic research. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the project intends to reflect on how these changes impacted Central European countries and Europe as a whole. Ilona Németh’s exhibition in the Schafhof’s barrel vault gallery comprises two parts: the Sugarloaf Manufacture and the Archive.

The participatory installation Sugarloaf Manufacture reconstructs memory through the fundamental human activity of a working process. Symbolically it transmits the past into the present and revives the production process and jobs lost by thousands of employees of the extinct sugar factories in the former Eastern Bloc. Visitors can produce the sugarloaves and take half of their own production home as a souvenir.

The interactive installation Archive in the form of a figurative storage depot presents the current state of sugar factories as ruins of the savage capitalism of the early 1990s. It contains photo portraits of sugar factories in the Slovak territory and video interviews with key-players of the sugar industry.


The large-size interactive installation Archive was implemented in cooperation with architect Marián Ravasz. In the paradoxical form of a figurative deposit, it encodes the present face of sugar factories as devastated ruins of the savage capitalism. The paradox of the artwork lies in the involvement of a seemingly neutral form of a depository system, as we know it from memory institutions such as museums or galleries. The present time and the current state of factories are expressed in the museum archive with reference to the past. Its layers, that can be symbolically “pulled out of memory”, contain the installation of current photo portraits of almost all sugar factories (their architectural as well as interior remains) in the Slovak territory. The artist, together with photographer Olja Triaška Stefanović, mapped and recorded the particular “crime scenes” and their individual narratives. From iconic images of factory chimneys through the corroding skeletons and desolate fields to the bourgeois dwellings of the former entrepreneurial culture. The Archive is a synthesis of a long-term research by Németh focused on the history and gradual decline of the Slovak sugar industry. It settles accounts with the key players, critically reflecting their role in the post-revolution transformation that has fatally impacted a broad area of sugar production and trade. In addition to photographs, the Archive is made up of a collection of video interviews with key-players of the sugar industry, as well as video essays, into the concept and production of which the artist engaged Martina Slováková and Cukru production.


The participatory installation Sugarloaf Manufacture induces real factory premises in an austere design of the food industry. In this case, the artist also reconstructed the memory through such a fundamental human activity as a working process. The installation is not only intended to enable the performance of manual work, but also to facilitate mental participation (layers of remembering, empathy, identification etc.). In the “open workshop”, in which sugarloaves can be manually produced a half of the production can be taken home from the exhibition as a souvenir or a kind of a “memory object”, the artist engages ordinary visitors, and, where possible, also individuals with a personal story or experience working in a sugar factory. Through a temporary work activity, the artist opens the floor for the viewer´s empathy, as well as critical reflection on the loss of values brought about by post-revolution transformation processes, as well as global political and economic events, which resulted in the gradual demise of the sugar industry in the region of the former Eastern Bloc (loss of jobs as a social and cultural value). For this exhibition, the large-size installation implemented in cooperation with architect Marián Ravasz has been newly adapted to the gallery premises and supplemented with new objects. It expands the gallery context to a new engaging and socially involved function. Symbolically it transmits the past to present, reviving the production process and jobs lost by thousands of employees of the extinct sugar factories.

VIDEOS - common annotation and description

The collection of video documents that the artist conceived in the framework the post-production tools as oral history, offers, in terms of information and essential and yet visually suggestive exposure of the central theme – the transformation of the sugar industry after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The interviewees of the research simultaneously include different actors of the given processes fulfilling different positions: public officials, directors, or profiteering investors, but also employees of former sugar factories, who, on the contrary, have lost their jobs and the job-related relationships, social, cultural, and economic values. In the visual composition of the videos, the actors´ memories and narratives are confronted with the reality of devastated or even completely destroyed factories, which we can see “live” in authentic video footage and drone footage. Specifically, on the occasion of the exhibition at Schafhof, the artist expanded the range of perspectives and views on the topic in the context of new borders between West and East, structured based on capitalism and market rules. In addition to different positions, we can also perceive a specific level of (un)involvement and convenient interpretation of ultimate responsibility, which is quite impersonal, melted down in the processes of privatization and the onset of capitalism and, ultimately also of regulations adopted by the long-dreamed-of and desired European Union. The extinction and loss, in this case, do not find a culprit – “that's life” – as Christian Laur says. The video recordings were co-edited by Dóra Rudas.

Ilona Németh - CV

(*1963, Dunajská Streda, Slovak Republic)
Ilona Németh is an artist, organizer and curator based in Slovakia. Her artistic practice is a search for the balance between the personal experience of growing up in the country marked by political turmoil and the universal history of the Eastern Bloc countries during the transition period from 1990 until today. She was professor, head of the Studio IN, and director of the international education program Open Studio at the Department of Intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava from 2004 to 2019. She graduated from the Hungarian University of Arts and Design Department of Typography and Typographic Art, Budapest in 1986. In 1987 she was a cofounder of the non-profit art organization Studio erte, which organized Transart Communication performance art festivals in Czechoslovakia and other countries in the region. In 2006 she defended her doctoral thesis at the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest. In 2001 she exhibited Invitation for a Visit in the Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republic at the Venice Biennale (with Jiří Surůvka) and has participated in numerous international exhibitions. Her solo exhibitions include “Eastern Sugar,” Kunsthalle Bratislava; “Dilemma,” Ernst Museum, Budapest (2011), “Non Identical Space,” East-Slovakian Gallery, Košice (2012), Identity of the Space, The Brno Haus of Arts, Brno (2012), Revised Version, Tranzit Gallery, Bratislava (2014) and Statement, Óbudai Társaskör, Budapest (2015). She co-curated the exhibition series Private Nationalism Project, which travelled to Budapest, Bratislava, Krakow, Dresden, Pécs, Kosice and Prague (2014–2015), as well as Universal Hospitality at the City Festival of Wiener Festwochen (2016), MeetFactory and FUTURA, Prague (2017). Currently she is working on the international exhibition and research project Eastern Sugar in cooperation with the Slovak National Gallery Bratislava supported by the Creative Europe program.
More information: https://www.ilonanemeth.sk

Opening hours


Winter (Nov-Feb)
Tue - Sat: 2 pm - 6 pm
Sun + holidays: 10 am - 7 pm

Summer (March-Oct)
Tue - Sat: 2 pm - 7 pm
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Das Titelbild des Flyers über die Kunstwerke im Skulpturengarten im Außenbereich des Schafhofs - Europäisches Künstlerhaus Oberbayern zeigt die Skluptur "SpaceSheep" des ungarischen Künstlers Csongor Szigeti, ein silbernes, halb abstraktes Schaf auf einer Wiese.
Brochure about the Sculpture Garden in the outdoor area of the Center for Art
To download: PDF 10 MB