Jaffa’s Cuckoos Nest.
(photo credit: SHAY BENVENISHTI)
In 2002, a couple of friends looked at the crumbing ruins of Budapest’s Jewish quarter and saw an opportunity. Where dilapidated buildings stood, they imagined an alternative to nightlife, a pub in which local artists could perform and local crowds could gather to see them, have a cheap drink and hang out. That vision became Szimpla, one of Budapest’s most iconic haunts for tourists and locals alike. Szimpla started a Hungarian trend, today referred to as “Ruin Bars,” which soon began popping up all over the area. The locations were one part of what made Ruin Bars such a hit. The other side was the countercultural experience so many had been seeking.
Next month, as part of the Hungarian Cultural Year in Israel, and the Jaffa Fest International Theater Festival, Budapest’s Over the course of 15 days and nights, the complex will host performances by DJs and bands, lectures, exhibitions, radio broadcasts and a writers’ program for Budapest-based authors. The festivities are brought to Israel by MANK, a Hungarian non-profit organization dedicated to promoting young artists. The funds for the project are derived from the sales of CDs and MP3s. A portion of each sale within Hungary is siphoned into this organization, which then provides opportunities for select artists and musical ensembles.
MANK has put together a program called Youngary, which aims to introduce Israeli audiences to a new generation of Hungarian artists coming up today.
The musical element of the endeavor is supported by HOTS, Hungarian Oncoming Tunes, which puts focus on radio-ready, original Hungarian music.
The acts that will perform in Tel Aviv are the Platon Karataev Duo, Szaboics Czegledi, Marton Hangasci, OHNODY, Oliver Lee and Szeder.
These acts represent a range of contemporary commercial music. OHNODY, which is the project of singer-songwriter Dori Hegyi, is sparse yet hip. Hegyi’s songs, accompanied by an electric keyboard, tell of travel, love, loss and even her parents’ divorce. Oliver Lee is a long-haired, guitar-wielding, Bob Dylan-loving star. His set, which is understated, is packed with charisma and intention. The Szeder duo boasts Kristina Szeder-Szabo’s loose and charming stage presence. Each of these acts sings in both Hungarian and English.
Another element of the Ruin Bar installation at Ken Hakukiya is the Frontier Garrison Academy for Writers. Founded by the Hungarian government in 2015, the Frontier Garrison seeks out young writers to mentor and publish. Hungarian culture has long been driven by literature, and as such, this project aims to present equal opportunities for writers not necessarily living in city centers. These authors create prose and poetry, which is then dispersed throughout the Carpathian Basin. Several of the Frontier Garrison Academy writers including Csenge Lantos, Zsolt Dravucz, Eniko Feher and Matyas Regos will accompany the HOTS artists, giving live readings of excerpts from their writing.
An exhibition boasting images from the various towns and cities throughout Hungary will be erected in the space. These works, by up-and-coming photographer Viola Fatyol, will reveal the deep connection with water throughout the country, be it in lakes and rivers or the famous thermal baths Hungary is known for.
A site-specific art installation will also unfold throughout the days of Ruin Bar. A group of Hungarian graffiti artists will take over one of the rooms of Ken Hakukiya, creating a large mural, which will remain after the event wraps.
Ruin Bar will take place at Ken Hakukiya from June 15 to June 30. For more information, visit cuckoosnest.co.il
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