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Anonym secret police officers: Summary report and action plan regarding happenings (1968)

The Lunch (in memoriam Batu Khan) – the first happening in Hungary

(…)

A happening, as regards its philosophical aspect, is a declaration of nihilism, darkness, irrationalism and the denial of healthy human activity. Its religion is aggression and hysteria. Its practical realisation serves the purpose of scandalising the public and asserting exaggerated decadence. Its U.S. variant, in its final stage, lead to a torrent of violence, mass drug abuse and open clashes with the police.
(…)
Although 150 invitations were sent out for the event, only 50-60 people turned up.

(…)
An entrance fee of 10 Ft per person was collected. When the signal was given, the audience moved to the garden in the back, where, at the entrance of a very old basement, a half-naked Szentjóby standing waist-deep in the earth wearing a green sunshade was typing onto a sheet of newspaper. A cat tail, which was attached with string to the typewriter, was dangling into a pot of paint. In the background, a gasoline-drenched baby carriage was in flames. A few of the wooden stairs leading to the basement had been removed and there was no lighting – these were the circumstances in which the audience were to make their descent. Downstairs, in the darkness, Stockhausen’s electronic piece entitled “Victory” could suddenly be heard. The first two movements were played, whose first part consists of the sound of an airstrike mixed with incoherent fragments of conversation from a French group in an air-raid shelter that has been buried underground.
After the light was switched on, a kitchen table could be seen in the background with two people sitting next to it. Behind them, a third person was busying himself with a chicken tied to a red pot. While eating, they occasionally let out a great belch, amplified for the audience with the help of a microphone and speakers.
When they finished lunch, a large plastic bag was produced into which one of the participants vomited the contents of his stomach.
Next, they retrieved a black handbag from an old refrigerator, which they handed to the audience. This contained white mice. Then they grabbed some hammers and shattered the plates, the table and the chairs.
The third participant was tied to the doorframe. In a bowl they mixed water and lime and poured it on the clothes of the tied person, and then they also smeared a tube of toothpaste on his clothing. The feathers from a torn up duvet were poured partly on the tied up person and partly on the audience. A condom was filled with some kind of sticky, red material, and then hung up with a candle lit under it. The cassette player was switched on and distorted music could be heard. Then one of the participants tied a string around the room in a spider web-like fashion, went back to the middle and smashed the light bulb with a thermos. In the meantime, someone had blocked the basement entrance, slowing down attempts to exit.
(…)
The audience generally expressed appreciation for what they had seen; they were afraid to object, lest they be regarded as conservative and opposed to novelty.
(…)
Action Plan
Based on the above, it can be stated that the spread of the happening phenomenon is harmful to the intellectual and political development of youth. Furthermore, it is an occurrence that goes against progress and facilitates the decentralising politics of imperialist circles.
(…)
The key organising figures of Hungarian happenings, as well as their possible foreign contacts, must be placed under surveillance.
(…)
Public appearances by the organisers of happenings must be prevented. It must be made impossible for them to use public forums for spreading and popularising the happening phenomenon.
(…)
The main organisers of happenings must be warned against involvement in future happenings, with special regard to Tamás Szentjóby, who is the most active person in this respect. Szentjóby is to be told that if he does not refrain from organising such events in the future, a recommendation will be made for his treatment in a mental institution.


Source: TILOS MŰVÉSZET 1966-1988 [Prohibited Art] – c3’s archive of secret agent reports on progressive art events


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