This monotype by Heldur Viires dates from 1982. It is called Army with Banners. Heldur Viires is well known for his skill at monotypes. They are mostly abstract, colourful, and filled with interesting patterns. This print is a good example of his later work, when he had gained extensive skills in the technique.
On the 28th of October 1983, there evolved a stormy public debate at the Faculty of Law, ELTE Budapest, about the scandalous case of “World in Move” between the official speaker of the event, the Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs, Dezső Tóth, and the audience of some 600 students and young intellectuals. By that time the chief editor Ferenc Kulin had been replaced for more than a month, and the whole editorial staff of the journal resigned in demonstration, and the Budapest students protested with a large-scale signature collecting action.
The debate, which lasted nearly four hours, was intended to be held as a routine procedural event of the Youth Press Festival. However, due to its enflamed topics, the Hungarian Broadcast of Radio Free Europe in Munich also reported on the program, and the emigre press Irodalmi Újság – Gazette Litteraire Hongrois later on published lengthy details of the recorded speeches. The main issues of the evening were: the misdeeds of censorship, and lack of freedom of press and democracy. The paper sheets of the collected student signatures were passed by Ferenc Langmár to the deputy minister with the noisy ovation of the audience. Among the speakers there were some well-known activists of the Hungarian democratic opposition, like the philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás, who ended his speech by saying: “We do not desire scandal, but liberty!”The editor of “World in Move,” Mária Helle, documented that famous evening with a number of photographs, and the Ministry of Interior did too, preparing a report for the party leadership; a secret document has survived at the Historical Archives of the State Security Services (ÁBTL).
On 22 August 1950, ‘Književne novine’ published a story by Yugoslav writer Branko Ćopić, entitled ‘Jeretičke priče’ [Heretical Tales]. As the title alone suggests, the heresy was to touch on the communist model of government, even through satire. Ćopić targeted his criticism at privileges and the Soviet model of society, which although publicly renounced by the Yugoslav party two years previously, he continued to observe in Yugoslav practice. In the story, which traces a summer day in the life of the privileged ruling class, one criticism follows on the heels of the other: a girl student (a minister’s sister-in-law) drives to the faculty by car, while the deputy minister fantasizes about how marriage could land him a minister’s post and later the job of prime minister. Alongside all of this, the appearance of other figures in the story was also problematic, such as a general and an important personality of whom little is known ‘because he wisely and importantly keeps his silence’, as well as others (R. Petković, 2000, Sudanije Branku Ćopiću [The Show Trial on Branko Ćopić], p. 12–13).
Such a portrayal of Yugoslav society was sufficient to provoke a scandal. Immediately after its publication, a smear campaign was unleashed against Ćopić. The famous writer Skender Kulenović, a good friend of Ćopić’s, accused him of ‘abusing free expression’ in the very next issue of ‘Književne novine’. Others alleged that he was a ‘bourgeois critic’ and was discrediting ‘the tendency of development of our socialist society’ (R. Petković, 2000, p. 20). Thus a wave of criticism was released, culminating in a public declaration by Tito – uncharacteristic for all later cases of the repression of artistic creation in Yugoslavia. At the Third Congress of the Women’s Anti-fascist Front on 29 October 1950, he declared, ‘And what does it mean, when people from a minister, a general and a deputy minister to a shock worker are put into a satire, when it, so to speak, encompasses our whole state leadership and economy. He has taken the whole of society and depicted it from top to bottom as negative (…). We will not permit such a satire and leave it without response. He need not be afraid that we will arrest him for what he has attempted to do. No, we must publicly answer and say once and for all that hostile satire that intends to shatter unity cannot be tolerated among us’ (R. Petković, 2000, p. 23).
Ćopić’s literary legacy, which is kept at SANU, includes the Pismo Veljku [Letter to Veljko] in which Ćopić writes about this case. While he acknowledges that he may have exaggerated in some places, since he wrote the story in a hurry, he considers his course as ‘honourable’ and ‘worthy of a true writer’, and is ‘not ashamed of having taken the path of satire’ (R. Petković, 2000, p. 28). According to a leading Serbian historian, ‘This whole case is significant for the researcher. It illustrates the contradictory nature of the Yugoslav regime with regard to the issue of repression and civil freedom. The existence of informers and their everyday activity is in itself a sign of repression. But on the other hand, the non-existence of serious punishment is an indication of liberalization’ (P. Marković, 1996, Beograd između istoka i zapada [Belgrade between East and West] 1948–1965, p. 178).
Precisely Ćopić is a good example of the dual nature of the Yugoslav system. Thanks to his undoubted revolutionary merit, he succeeded in avoiding more serious repercussions in relation to his personal integrity and writing, though he continued to critically view Yugoslav society through the medium of satire in the following decades.
Wald old popp was one of the few musical samizdat publications in communist Romania. It was created in 1969 by Emil Hidoș, a twenty-year-old man from the town of Bistrița, who was passionate about foreign music. He was a faithful listener to Cornel Chiriac’s musical programme Metronom, broadcast by the Romanian department of Radio Free Europe (RFE). The copies of Wald old popp were confiscated by the Romanian secret police, the Securitate, in June 1970, after a search at Hidoș’s home. The Securitate used the samizdat as the main evidence against him and for his prosecution under the charge of “propaganda against the socialist order,” and copies of the publication were included in his penal file.
The musical samizdat Wald old popp was a handwritten publication whose chief editor was “Braim Iones,” the nickname used by Emil Hidoș. The copies were made using carbon paper. The subtitle of the samizdat, The Bistrița supplement of musical information, gives a hint as to the purpose of the editor: “to help the young people of this backward town, to inform them about the latest musical news from the world of popp (sic!).” Very interesting is Emil Hidoș’s short self-description, which illustrates his revolt against the limitations the communist regime put on the consumption of foreign cultural goods, which were nonetheless highly interesting to young people: “I am a young man in Bistrița just like you, unhappy with the care shown to us… by the older people, with the way in which they understand how we should spend our free time, have fun etc.” After stating that Romanian youth needed a magazine, a radio or a television programme to get information about the latest musical developments, Emil Hidoș underlined once again his personal revolt against this state of affairs and the fact that he was forced to create “such miserable supplements, which resemble more closely a manifesto than a supplement of music information.” From his point of view, the forced isolation of youth from the outside Western musical world would only increase their revolt against the communist regime to the point where things would get out of hand and the authorities would not be able to silence the young people’s revolt.
This editorial was followed by several articles about the latest developments in “popp” music, as Emil Hidoș misspelled and mistakenly labelled all music played at RFE and other foreign radio stations at that time. The entries concerned the latest “El-PY” (LP or Long Play) of a former member of the British rock band Cream and new releases of albums. Other columns contained the addresses of fan clubs of the most popular bands of that time, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and a musical chart. A special feature was dedicated to “Events in Bistrița,” where Hidoș described how the authorities had reacted negatively to the exaltation displayed by young people during the concert of Cromatic Group, a rock band from the nearby city of Cluj-Napoca. He used the event as pretext for fresh criticism of the communist regime, which labelled as “hooliganism” the patterns of spending their free time that many young people adopted in revolt against the older generation and implicitly the communist regime. From Hidoș’s point of view, the critical stance of the authorities toward this issue was unfounded, as the officially-sponsored relevant organisations failed to take into consideration alternative and more appealing modes of entertainment. He ended his article by wondering when youth in Romanian would enjoy “total freedom” (ACNSAS, P 14400 vol. 1, ff. 215–223 f–v).
- Budapest, Teve str. 3-5.
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