VIRÁG Ágnes: Infinite Interpretations? Central European Journal of Communication, 2021

A Corpus-based Study for the Identification and Interpretationof Competing Frames in Parliament-representations in Hungary

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Ágnes Eperjesi scheduled a series of performances (documentation is available on her website): that took place in spaces that reflect different levels of power. The first was held in the parliament, the second in a theatre (Back Gate), and the third on the Szabadság Square (Square of Liberty) and the places refers to the various levels of power and attention towards each other (artist’s comment on her work during an interview, April 18, 2018). Eperjesi adds that this was 0 degrees in the parliament condition given the timing of the speech (1.30 AM) and due to the impossibility of responding in this political genre (speech after the agenda). “Parliament is the place of lawmaking and it is the peak of power” (detail from the interview with Eperjesi).

The title of the series – Words of Power (‘Hatalmi szóval’ in Hungarian) – refers to power as an institution that has the right to hold speeches (Power Is Force) and also reflects on the speech that must reach power (Power Is A Destination). The latter is symbolized by a screaming mouth on a yellow lanyard card while the % sign stands for money on which power is based, created by Imre Lepsényi.
The first performance was presented by independent parliamentary representatives and those of the opposition parties as part of the questioning session (at 1.30 AM April 13, 2015). Four powerful reused speeches included the Polish ex-PM, Ewa Kopacz’s text on the silence of the majority, the Estonian ex-President, Thomas Hendrik Ilves’s text on annexation and justice, the ex-PM of Uruguay, Jose Mujica’s text on the civilizational model, and finally, the ex-PM of Australia, Julia Gillard’s text on sexism and misogyny. Texts were rehaped by Péter Kárpáti.
Eperjesi applies the Conflict frame, more specifically The Conflict Of Communication frame, which is mainly triggered by the subordinate position of the opposition parties and the voters represented by them. On the one hand, a viewer can claim that the speeches are successful in the sense that they were allowed to be given in the Assembly Hall without violent silencing and fines.
The Parliament in this instance metonymically Stands For A Significant Place where powerful communication happens. On the other hand, another viewer probably would not consider the speeches successful or would be indifferent given the circumstances within which they were presented (time and number of a few participants, etc.). Here, a sharp conflict over the power develops as the speeches are completely neglected, and hence Parliament metonymically Stands For An Insignificant Place where communication cannot take place properly.

As stated in the introduction, this article provides an overview of the multiple possible interpretations of artworks that show the parliament through the use of competing frames or alternative specifications of certain frames despite the exclusion of direct political references (Table 1). This does not mean that the artists do not have their own private opinion, but that is not the subject of their artwork. As stated by Terkildsen and Schnell (1997), a similar approach is also characteristic of fair and impartial journalism which aims to present multiple points of view at the same time. The influence on the audience through this refined communicative manner is described by Eperjesi as follows (detail from the interview, April 4, 2018): Events that occur in the Parliament and texts spoken there, have a symbolic value, the strength of which I wouldn’t underestimate. I believe that symbolic sentences and acts work from top to bottom. Therefore, it is important what those who are in power say and do, because their impact is obvious. It leaks down pretty slowly and soaks through all strata of society.