At the turn of the 1980s, bands appeared on the Hungarian music scene which did not heed the status quo of the so called “pop-business.” They represented a grassroots new wave, which meant a turn to elementary music sources and the development of a poetically elevated world of lyrics. They soon became popular among the urban youth, but at the same time they were strategically marginalized by the monopolized channels of exposure of the time.
In this climate, it came as something of a surprise that one of these bands, Bizottság (Comittee), was able to release an album in 1983. The story has become a familiar anecdote. Due to the issue of popularity, a radio reporter asked one of the decision makers at the state record company if they would release some music by the new wave bands. He routinely replied that they had already discussed the matter with Wahorn from Bizottság. This was not true, but Wahorn just happened to be listening to the radio, and he sought out the decision-maker to discuss the matter.
After awhile, they agreed to make a concert album under the condition that the band change its name (from Bizottság to A. E. Bizottság in reference to Albert Einstein). The album was popular, and it sold out within days. However, the numbers were manipulated. It was released in only 14,000 copies, so the officials could later argue that only a small number of copies had been sold, it had not been popular enough and represented merely a niche type of music (a “gold standard” for success at the time was 100,000 copies sold).
The album presents several of the characteristics that made Bizottság (Comittee) special: the surreal lyrics fit the times, since in many cases the words were not used in their usual meanings in public discourses (though the lyrics remain poetic even today); the funny, improvised dialogues between songs; the special sound (for example the distinctive breaks developed by their female drummer, the peculiar riffs played by the guitarist, the sharp sound of the organ made in GDR, etc.); the remarkable post-production work (it is worth noting that the song Bestia (Beast) was altered by the censors: the word “siege” is made inaudible with the use of sound effects).
Altogether, it was an impressive debut album, and despite the limited number of copies made (a year later, another 10,000 copies were released, and twelve years later it came out on cd as well), it is regularly included to this day on the lists of the most remarkable Hungarian records ever made.
Year of creation:
- Featured item of:
11 issues of a bookwork-like samizdat art magazine published in 1983-1985 by Artpool in Hungarian (with summaries in English) about local and global art events related to the neo-avantgarde (which were “invisible” to the official art press of the time).
The unique character of this publication-series lay in the creative misuse of differing regulations concerning graphical artworks and the press. For this reason, each copy was certified as art, signed, and numbered.
The materials published were produced (recorded, photographed, typed, copied, stamped, bind) and distributed by the editors themselves, and the layout was convergent with mail art and fanzine traditions, done by a trained and talented graphic artist.
Securitatea was a quarterly aimed at improving the training of Securitate operative personnel. Its articles were written by Securitate officers for Securitate officers and thus they touched upon practical problems faced during their specific mission of preventing and neutralising any actions that potentially threatened the communist regime. Among the many dangers that were outlined in the pages of the quarterly as undermining “state security” were foreign radio stations, and especially Radio Free Europe (RFE). The article chosen as a featured item of the collection presents under the title “Cu referire la relațiile cetățenilor români cu unele posturi de radio capitaliste” (About the relations of Romanian citizens with some capitalist radio stations) the perspective of the Securitate upon the activity of RFE and evaluates its contribution in providing an alternative source of information for Romanians. In the absence of underground publications, RFE represented the main source of alternative information in communist Romania. Thus, the Securitate regarded RFE and contacts between Romanian citizens and employees of the Romanian desk of this radio station as dangerous to the communist regime. Accordingly, the entire article focuses on revealing how RFE allegedly acts in order to undermine “state security.” Starting from the premise that RFE is the locus “of espionage, ideological diversion, and hostile propaganda,” the anonymous author traces the connection between this radio station and the American espionage machine, namely the CIA. The Central Intelligence Agency was credited with financing RFE and setting its agenda even after the American Congress officially took responsibility for financially supporting its functioning. The control of the CIA over RFE was underlined once again when discussing its organisation. The two management structures in the United States and Europe were allegedly infiltrated by CIA agents who engaged the radio station in their “ungentlemanly” war against communist countries and used it to collect information about them. As a result, the CIA used the microphone of RFE to proffer slanders and shamefully distort the realities of the communist countries, according to the Securitate’s interpretation of the broadcasting of news and other political programmes by this radio station. Even worse from the point of view of the Securitate was that people travelling abroad were an easy prey for “agents” working at the Romanian desk of RFE. After underlining the connection between its director, deputy director, and programme producers with the CIA, the article describes how they allegedly succeeded in manipulating Romanian tourists in order to collect valuable information about the country, its leadership, and the impact of its social and economic policies on the mood of the population. In other cases, they even managed to trick their “victims” and persuade them to emigrate. The narrative of blaming RFE for these “unpatriotic” deeds was an ideologically convenient explanation for the fact that the great majority of Romanians listened to and trusted RFE, in spite of the fact that this might have caused problems. At the same time, such a narrative was meant to highlight the vital role played by the Securitate as a guardian of the communist regime in Romania.
Action Tableau of shaking hands during the Meeting of Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian artists, August 26–27, 1972, organized by László BekeAs the organizer of the event Meeting of Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian artists, László Beke intended to reflect on the possibilities of cooperation between artists from the three (at that time two) countries in the past and present, while examining and reconsidering the problems around the case of 1968, when Hungarian troops invaded Czechoslovakia in alliance with the Soviet Union. In addition to the handshakes of artists from different countries, which resulted in the tableau work documenting the meeting, the event included a tug of war action, which recalled the memories of 1968 by tearing up a photo showing the united forces playing tug of war after marching in the former Czechoslovakia in 1968; and an exhibition including a list of words which are similar in all three languages (Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian). Participants: Imre Bak, Peter Bartos, László Beke, Miklós Erdély, Stano Filko, György Galántai, Péter Halász, Béla Hap, Ágnes Háy, Tamás Hencze, György Jovánovics, J. H. Kocman, Péter Legéndy, János Major, László Méhes, Gyula Pauer, Vladjimir Popovic, Petr Stembera, Rudolf Sikora, Tamás Szentjóby, Anna Szeredi, Endre Tót, Péter Türk, Jiri Valoch.