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János Sugár: Persian Walk (1985)


Screening in the framework of tranzit .hu’s event-series Regime Change – Incomplete Project 

Date: 14th September 2012. Friday 18:00

Location: MAJAKOVSZKIJ 102, Budapest, Király u. 102. 1st floor

The film is screened using the original 16mm roll after János Sugár’s introduction. The screening is followed by a talk, documents of the film and the exhibition featured in it can be viewed during the evening.

The theme of the series is the political transition of 1989, the role of intellectuals and artistic thinking in the dissident or alternative social movements from the crisis perspective of the 2010s. Persian Walk recorded the economic -scientific news and prognoses, as well as the cityscape of Budapest in the years preceding the political transition from a projected future point of view, which are still unfulfilled the same way as the hopes and expectations of the  1980s are recurrently restated.

The title of the film, Persian Walk, alludes to Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, the book in which contemporary French reality is seen through the eyes of a loyal stranger, a Persian prince. The film is about the possibilities of perceiving or seeing our own age, our own contemporary reality. We fail to see or notice things that would stick out for our later selves, for those we are today.

It’s a so-called experimental film, although I prefer to use the category of cognitive film. Its structure is very simple: two people are walking and talking to each other. But this is an actual walk, in “real time”, down the streets of 1985 downtown Budapest. For their dialogue I took excerpts from current articles on economic news, forecasts, trends that had appeared in a weekly newsmagazine. Above this dialogue there is a second sound layer, a strange music: two singers (a man and a woman) making remarks on what we see or hear on the screen, two voices from the future watching an old movie.

I was fascinated by how people watch old feature films: beside the actual story, they seem to draw great pleasure from their documentary value, the fact that they provide ample reference on the old times, they watch the streets, the shops, the people, the clothes, etc.

Now in the middle of the film, both geographically and temporally, there is a gallery which the two guys enter, walk around, and then leave, and say absolutely nothing. The exhibition space I chose was at that time the best in Budapest. It was in a very nice location, they had very good exhibits but it was totally official. It was the kind of place in which I, as an unknown, underground, avant-garde young artist, could never dream of being able to exhibit. But since I was making a film that had been approved by an officially sanctioned film studio, I asked for the gallery space to be put at my disposal for the production of the film. So I was given, for free, this space for three days, and I have made the exhibition which is seen in the film.

János Sugár

Persian Walk (1985)
16 mm, color, 54 perc, Hungarian audio, BBS production, final print: 1989
written by: János Sugár, Ferenc Gerlóczy
music: Gábor Litván
actors: Hollósi Gábor, Tótfalusi András
singers: Gábor Litván, Magda Tarkó
director of photography: Tamás Sas
scenic design: János Sugár
directed by: János Sugár

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Hejettes Szomlyazók: Gazdálkodj okosan! (részlet), először kiállítva: Budapest Galéria Lajos utcai kiállítóháza, A Kék Aczél kiállítás, 1989, rekonstrukció: ICA-D, Dunaújvárs, Nehéz Ipar kiálítás, 2011. Fotó: Ballon - Eln Ferenca 2011.

Time: June 1, 2012, 18:00-21:00
Venue: tranzit .hu, Budapest 1068, Király St. 102., 1st floor
Invited speakers: Zsolt K. Horváth, social researcher, György Vári, literary critic

In conversation with: Zsuzsa László Emese Süvecz (tranzit .hu),
Visuals : AMPBA (Association of Mouth and Brain Painters of the World)

For this second event, we will tackle again some topics raised during the previous discussion, such as the idiosyncratic role of the intellectuals in Eastern European societies. Through case studies we will recall and discuss the crisis of the 1968-intellectuals’ role and the contradictions of the transition from state-capitalism to global capitalism in correspondence with the still open economic, ideological, artistic debates of the regime change. One of our starting points that connect all these themes is the legendary sociological study by György Konrád and Iván Szelényi, titled “The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power,” which could only be published officially in Hungary with the regime change, 15 years after its completion, and since then, it has been reinterpreted many times.

During this event, with the collaboration of the AMBPA (Association of Mouth and Brain Painters of the World) we will change the name of the our place from KIRÁLY [king] 102 to MAYAKOVSKY 102, in order to express our commitment to face and critically examine the heritage of the regime change and that of the preceding decades.

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First talk


First event:
Time: 12th March 2012, 18:00-21:00
Venue: tranzit .hu, Budapest 1068, Király St. 102., 1st floor
Invited speakers: Ágnes Gagyi, social researcher and János Sugár, artist
Moderators: Zsuzsa László (tranzit .hu), Kristóf Nagy (TEK), Bálint Németh (TEK)
: AMBPA (Association of Mouth and Brain Painters of the World)

János Sugár: Gyorskultúra (Fast Culture) flyer, 1985, back side, paper, ink, pencil, 21,5 x 30 cm

During the first talk, we discuss, on the basis of viewing documents together, the crisis of the intellectual and dissident roles and the opportunities of educational and critical initiatives organized from below before and after the regime change. We will talk about dissident positions, the artist group Indigo Csoport (1976-1988), the discussion series Gyorskultúra (Fast Culture) organized between 1984-1988, ‘flying universities’- informal lecture series of dissident intellectuals held in private flats, the Hungarian October Party (active between 1989-1991), student revolutions, visions of cultural politics, interconnections of civil activism, political role-taking, and cultural industry.

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