February 02, 2010


Arrived in Budapest to what the UK would call a blizzard. The snow was thicker than it was a few weeks back in England and it seemed to have no effect on daily life. Everywhere I went, even outer areas of the city, had cleared pavements and roads. Unlike Manchester city centre's incapable response to snow, no-one was slipping over; it was business as usual.

(View from my hotel)

Being here had the desired effect on writing Tesseract – what could be more conducive than being cut off from the world supplied at regular intervals with caffe lattes and overlooking ice flowing down the Danube?

On Monday evening I had the great pleasure of dinner at Márton Koppány's apartment. About 25 mins from the hotel, though the taxi ripped me off charging double what it cost for the trip back.

Márton's 'poetry dog' (every poet should have one!) Gertrude S. was a big black soft haired sweety who barked whenever she wanted something, which most often was to be played with or stroked. Luckily I had brought her a ball and missing our poetry dog was happy to stroke. Márton's wife Gyöngyi teaches English and asked me a couple of questions about grammar which I answered inconsistently, because, as I said, the English don’t really learn or understand grammar – part of our imperial laziness - so even things that are grammatically incorrect sound feasible to our ears. I called it our ‘flexibility’. Márton and I talked about vispo and whether the new taste for asemic writing amounted to anything, conceptual art, the Text Festival (which he will be in), his choice of English over Hungarian and the phenomenon of global networking. Gyöngyi made dinner; we drank two bottles of wine. The food was a chicken and cauliflower bake with rice followed by cake. I gave Márton a copy of Reykjavik and he gave me a couple of his books (Investigations and Endgames) which look very nice indeed.

Yesterday, I had lunch with Allan Siegel, a media artist, writer and teacher at Budapest Art University.
http://www.kekbicikli.hu/ We discussed the 5 Places project in his favourite bistro.

After that, I connected up again with Márton to see the Műcsarnok Kunsthalle retrospective of the Balázs Béla Studio.

It didn't really work for me as I had no knowledge of 50's-60's Hungarian avant-garde film-making and it was curated as a cross between an art show and a museological survey, the latter part not really working with Műcsarnok's spaces.

From there I went on to the Trafo Contemporary Art Centre, http://www.trafo.hu/ to see Subversive Excerpts, a show looking at the experimental and conceptual practices between the nineteen-sixties and eighties in Europe and South America under the influence of military dictatorships and communist regimes. Taken with the subtext of the BBS show and the conversations with Márton, it is clear that the recent history of repression in Hungary is still a raw element in artists' consciousness, but not having had that experience, I had to feel a distance from that reality.

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