Lockdown Art Stories: KristofLab

Kristóf Szabó KristofLab interview

“Our democratic society needs its unique and diverse cultural and media landscape in this historical situation, which was unimaginable until recently,” said German culture minister Monika Grütters. “The creative courage of creative people can help to overcome the crisis. We should seize every opportunity to create good things for the future. That is why the following applies: artists are not only indispensable but also vital, especially now”.

These lines, coming from the German government in March 2020, confirm my thoughts about the role of artists, especially now. This is why I was asking painter, media artist, and VJ performer Kristóf Szabó at KristofLab a few questions about the current situation. I was curious about how he was doing, what he was thinking, under lockdown?

If you haven't already, sign up to the Budapest Weekly Newsletter to get updates about Budapest stories!

KristofLab

KRISTOFLAB

Kristóf Szabó KristofLab interview

- How can artists in Budapest now help society? How can artists, with their creative courage, point to a better future?

- The first thing that comes to mind is that like all my peers, the world has closed itself to me from one moment to the next. There are no exhibitions, performances, concerts. We have to get up from this situation and look for new ways, and this position can be an incentive in itself. From another point of view, appearances in the online space – like exhibitions and concerts - can bring back some of the liveliness we have lost. This can move people out of everyday life, which makes it easier to endure the situation. But as soon as we get back to normal life, I think everyone will crave culture like a mouthful of bread. Our first thing will be to go to concerts, exhibitions, and social events. The energy that is stuck in the artists will break out, and everyone will understand how much art can give people. Until then, courage, the will to live, and persistence can encourage our fellow human beings that this is just a situation that will pass, and something else must come after it.

- Do you get any extra inspiration from such a historic situation? Do you guys feel more motivated now? Does isolation change much in artistic work?

- Looking at my situation, many of my sources of income - theaters, and clubs - have disappeared. Talking to my friends, however, this is different for everyone. Some have been upset recently, but most of us are positive. I feel a flare-up, togetherness. Now we encourage and help each other, a little window has opened overlooking a new street, and it fills the creative people with curiosity. I embarked on a series of paintings that contrast the recently bustling urban spaces with the current emptiness. I also got involved in making an installation inspired by the situation. I do all this at home or online though; I won’t go to the studio. At first, it was difficult to switch to this method, but now the calmness and retreat have borne fruit. I am living in my productive era, which will bring many positive changes in my life.

Kristof Szabo Painter

KRISTOFLAB

- How do you intend to (re)connect with your audience in these circumstances? What new tools and platforms you would think are going to help to achieve this?

- My online activity is more now. We recently made a performance in our living room on an online broadcast of a Czech gallery. We did this with Emese Kovács and Attila Szász, under the auspices of the Hoygadayax formation, which made its debut at the closing event of our exhibition with Balázs Csizik. And now we are just preparing for a similar one, Babicska will be the host, but the event will take place in the living room again. Other initiatives have also been launched, with one of my work posted on the 1111 virtual gallery. Now Budapest Art Week has also been postponed, so I presented my studio in the form of an interview. As for now, I can get my work to the audience through similar channels only. This is why we have recently come up with the idea of creating a special outdoor venue with Ziggurat Project, a contemporary dance-centric interdisciplinary company. We have already submitted several applications in Hungary as well as abroad for this. And once normal life returns, we will be able to start location-specific performances with renewed vigor.

- What you would think the single biggest change is going to be in the art world in Budapest once this crisis ends?

- I expect some kind of segregation. Some components become stronger, and others fade. The international art life will recover later, the smaller sectors will intensify, which may bring us, Eastern European artists more attention. Budapest can also be better included in the European art cycle. The big international fairs are much more affected by this situation and thus more attention can be paid to the artists of our country. New forms will emerge, attitudes will be more experimental, traditional forms that have worked so far will be reviewed and new ones will come up to the surface shortly. It will definitely be an exciting period for sure.

Kristof Szabo Artist Paintings

KRISTOFLAB

- Is there any “Lockdown” piece of art produced recently that you can share with the readers?

- The series of paintings mentioned at the beginning, which started when we visited Madrid with the Budapest Art Mentor at the ARCO Madrid fair, before the epidemic became serious. And a week later, school closures began in Hungary. Not long after, a friend of mine living in Madrid sent photos of the vacated city, and I took pictures of one of the buildings even during my stay. That’s how the idea came to paint in empty and in bustling versions. Since then, I’ve been asking for photos from my other friends as well. Vienna has now been completed, and the next one will be Warsaw. And another series is in the pipeline too: I have asked artists to collaborate by sending me photos of vacant urban places for rework. I add image errors and glitches reminiscent of corrupted JPG files. I am referring to the impact of man on nature. For example, the spread of the epidemic stems from globalization. Traffic between distant countries has stopped in a matter of moments, and factories stopped working too, no wonder it drastically reduced air pollution. We can also look at man as an error, and perhaps this situation awakens humanity because it cannot continue its way of life with impunity.

- Is there any way for art lovers to support your work, and how?

- The biggest support if the audience follows me on my social media platforms and gets the news of my work in as many places as possible. And when life comes back, we can meet at exhibitions and performances with the Ziggurat Project, to talk about art and other interesting topics. If anyone is interested in my work, they can email me and even look around the studio.

Kristoflab Budapest

KRISTOFLAB

Kristóf Szabó – KristofLab was born in 1988 in Győr. He is a visual and media artist. He graduated from the University of Fine Arts, as a graphic designer (2012) and as an art teacher (2013). He won an Erasmus scholarship in 2011 to study in Dresden (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden). Kristóf is a member of the MAMŰ and Hungarian Artist’s Book Association and the Ziggurat Project, which groups are experimenting with various co-artistic collaborations. He is fond of working with dancers or representatives of other branches of art. He took part in several solo and group exhibitions in Hungary and abroad. More recently he is experimenting with the relationship between painting and new media art.

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Budapest Weekly: Things To Do 26 April – 3 May

Things to do 26 April - 3 May in our Budapest Weekly Newsletter

Learn about virtual events, music, arts, and gastro in Budapest this week. If you haven't already, sign up for our newsletter to get Budapest updates!

Things To Do 26 April - 3 May


Virtual events

Remote cinema: Művész, Puskin, Toldi, Tabán, and Kino Cafe have started showing movies on film.artmozi.hu. You can buy tickets and watch them at home.

This Wednesday, you can enjoy online wine tasting with the following drinks:
- Írsai Olivér 2019, Geszler Winery, Mór Region
- Szürkebarát 2018, Váli Winery, Badacsony
- Kékfrankos 2017 Cseri Winery, Pannonhalma

There is a dance workout live stream by Arthur Murray Budapest Dance Studio on Monday morning.

Watch daily videos on the YouTube channel of Central European Dance Theater.


Gastro

The Mom Biopiac farmer’s market is open again and now operates on Saturdays.

The Pancs farmer’s market, pancspiac.com offers a selection of goods from many producers. Orders placed by Tuesday will be delivered to your home in Budapest on Friday or Saturday.

New initiatives are focusing on specific Budapest districts. Such is the case with Zugló Bread Community, and Babka restaurant also launched a similar one in Újlipótváros.


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Arts

The illustrations of contemporary Hungarian graphic artists are at the centre of My Little Beast online exhibition. View beasts and imaginary creatures in children’s book illustration.

Art from home: there are seven online mini-tours at the Museum of Fine Arts, and these are perfect for kids. The child-friendly exhibitions consist of stations, making it easier for learning, and they help to accommodate the visual experience.

In the online gallery of the Kiscelli Museum, photos of two exciting projects can be viewed as part of the virtual backup: the station building and the fast-food restaurant of the Southern Railway Station.

Pop street artist 0036Mark’s posters can be found in hidden downtown doorways or windows of empty shops. The method of the artist is unique: he places the characters of old Hungarian cartoons in international pop culture.

Although Budapest Art Week had to be cancelled this April, fortunately it has got the new dates already. The exhibitions take place from 16-25 October 2020.

Acb Gallery presents its first online exhibition, Hands That Make The World Go Round Even In Times Of Quarantine. The artworks are engaging in an important dialogue with the unique character of the space, which has been an abandoned flat used as storage in the past years.


Music

The autumn 2020 tickets of the Academy of Music are already available for purchase, with Julia Leznyeva, Il Giardino Armonico, Isabelle Faust, Emmanuel Pahud, and his brass band partners, among others, as well as many excellent Hungarian musicians performing at the concerts.

Müpa Budapest has opened up its season ticket general sale for the 2020/21 season, because the venue will remain closed until 7 July 2020. The upcoming season will feature legendary conductors, world-class soloists and outstanding ensembles, including Sir Antonio Pappano and Rome's Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Daniele Gatti and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Harding and the Vienna Philharmonic, István Várdai, the Ballet Company of Győr, Ádám Fischer, Víkingur Ólafsson, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Elīna Garanča, one of the finest mezzos of our time.

Alternative rock band Quimby will make available its 25th-anniversary grand concert on Sunday night, which you can enjoy from your home.

Music video premieres: a recent video by Anima Sound System, ‘Lord of the Desert, was shot in the Israeli desert. The new video of Mary PopKids performing `The Carnival` of their upcoming LP, coming late 2020, premiered in April. Odett’s new single Fehér Fényis available now with a video recently published on YouTube.

Lockdown Music Stories: Örs Siklósi AWS Interview

Örs Siklósi AWS interview

“Our democratic society needs its unique and diverse cultural and media landscape in this historical situation, which was unimaginable until recently,” said German culture minister Monika Grütters. “The creative courage of creative people can help to overcome the crisis. We should seize every opportunity to create good things for the future. That is why the following applies: artists are not only indispensable but also vital, especially now”.

These lines, coming from the German government in March 2020, confirm my thoughts about the role of artists, especially now. This is why I was asking Örs Siklósi, singer of AWS a few questions about the current situation. I was curious about how he was doing, what he was thinking, under lockdown?

If you haven't already, sign up to the Budapest Weekly Newsletter to get updates about Budapest stories, such as this Örs Siklósi AWS interview.

Örs Siklósi AWS

Örs Siklósi AWS

Örs Siklósi AWS interview

- How can musicians in Budapest now help society? How can bands, with their creative courage, point to a better future?

- An interesting issue is a relationship between the band and its audience. On the one hand, the band draws strength from the people at their concert, and on the other hand, the musician writes his songs to get to someone and make him think. The same is true now, only in a slightly different way: the group keeps the soul in the audience with their songs and live streams, and fans encourage the musician in “remote mode” that they need what he’s doing. It was an awfully good feeling to see that, without party politics, everyone was unanimous in encouraging their fans to take the current situation seriously, to take care of themselves and their environment. There wasn’t a band I didn’t see that from, everyone was fighting in one direction. I have never seen an example of this in my life so far. 🙂

- Do you get any extra inspiration from such a historic situation? Do you feel more motivated now? Does isolation change much in artistic work?

- For me, making music has always been about writing out my problems. As a result of the pandemic, I finally have problems again! Luckily, the music helps me not to drain the tension in my environment. Since we are writing a new record, volunteer quarantine came at a good time in this regard.

Örs Siklósi AWS

Örs Siklósi AWS

- How do you intend to (re)connect with your audience in these circumstances? What new tools and platforms you would think are going to help to achieve this?

- I’ve already given three live gigs on Facebook, in which I made three different shows. It was a great feeling to see the number of audiences grow. Also, we have already organized podcast-like conversations with other musicians in which we speculated on the current situation and possible scenarios. We are planning a lot more like this.

AWS - Fekete részem (Park Live)

Örs Siklósi AWS

Örs Siklósi AWS

- What you would think the single biggest change is going to be in the world of music in Budapest once this crisis ends?

- For a long time, nothing will be the same for sure. There are a lot of gigs left that everyone wants to make up for - because, without them, every band would be ruined. However, if everyone wants to make up for missed shows at the same time, there will be a disappointment. For a positive outcome to a blow to music life, a huge cohesiveness will be needed, and everyone will have to consider the other’s interests as well. I am confident that we can turn this to our advantage to bring us together even better.

- Is there any “Lockdown” piece of music produced recently that you can share with the readers?

- An entire record is being made just behind the scenes! 🙂

- Is there any way for music lovers to support your work, and how?

- This is a difficult question, and we are thinking about it a lot right now. Everyone’s living conditions have changed, so we don’t feel right to ask anyone for money. However, the complete cessation of music life is a huge problem for any band. If fans order a couple of T-shirts from the band's webshop though, they can help a lot. We haven’t tried community funding sites yet, as we have reserves for now.


AWS

AWS is a five-piece band from the Hungarian capital Budapest, playing modern metal. The core members of AWS started on their musical journey as teenagers in 2006. With fourteen years of intense touring in Hungary and abroad, four LPs, and numerous music videos, they grew to be one of the most sought-after live bands of the Hungarian metal scene. Currently they are working on their new upcoming album, out in autumn 2020.

Listen to AWS:

Facebook
Youtube
Website
Spotify

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Lockdown Music Stories: Veronika Harcsa Interview

Veronika Harcsa interview

“Our democratic society needs its unique and diverse cultural and media landscape in this historical situation, which was unimaginable until recently,” said German culture minister Monika Grütters. “The creative courage of creative people can help to overcome the crisis. We should seize every opportunity to create good things for the future. That is why the following applies: artists are not only indispensable but also vital, especially now”.

These lines, coming from the German government in March 2020, confirm my thoughts about the role of artists, especially now. This is why I was asking Veronika Harcsa, jazz singer and songwriter a few questions about the current situation. I was curious about how she was doing, what she was thinking, under lockdown?

If you haven't already, sign up to the Budapest Weekly Newsletter to get updates about Budapest stories, such as this Veronika Harcsa interview.

Jazz singer Veronika Harcsa

Veronika Harcsa

Veronika Harcsa interview

- How can musicians in Budapest now help society? How can bands, with their creative courage, point to a better future?

- 'Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable' - that's a quote by Cesar A. Cruz, the Mexican poet. Nobody is comfortable today, we are all disturbed, and we all have anxiety. Music is a marvelous tool to soothe our minds, therefore musicians have a responsibility in times like these. Even though most artists are currently facing a series of event cancellations, it's uplifting to see the multitude of home recordings and live music streams aiming to cheer up the lockdown crowd. It gives me a strong feeling of solidarity, collaboration, and hope.

- Do you get any extra inspiration from such a historic situation? Do you feel more motivated now? Does isolation change much in artistic work?

- I would love to say that this unique situation inspires me, but so far it hasn't really been the case. On a conscious level I know that this is a great opportunity to dig deep into songwriting, but the daily cancellation of concerts and studio sessions, as well as not knowing the date when things will get back on track is a very demotivating cocktail. Due to the lockdown I cannot meet my colleagues, and jazz is a genre where tight rhythm is fundamental, so online rehearsing is not an option, technology is simply not there yet since there's a slight audio delay on every online meeting platform. But I hate to sound so desperate, I did find things to work on, and I do learn to appreciate the circumstances that once seemed self-evident.

Veronika Harcsa and Balint Gyemant

Veronika Harcsa and Balint Gyemant

- How do you intend to (re)connect with your audience in these circumstances? What new tools and platforms you would think are going to help to achieve this?

- I believe that stories are what interest people, and we are sharing a very strong story now, affecting every one of us. I see the lockdown as a chance to connect with my audience through our shared story, and if this creates a stronger community, they will open up more to my music later on. Three weeks ago I took the positive quarantine challenge, meaning that I have to post daily about the positive aspects of living in lockdown. It's often music or art-related, but I also share whatever comes to mind to keep my spirits high, the energy I get from doing sports, the beauties of spring, or eventually the joy of raising my wild sourdough. I share more of my daily life than I normally would, not because I intend to become a celebrity, but because I believe that this connection is what we all need now. Then it will transform itself into a musical connection.

Veronika Harcsa - Bálint Gyémánt: Saying No

Veronika Harcsa Budapest

Veronika Harcsa

- What you would think the single biggest change is going to be in the world of music in Budapest once this crisis ends?

- There will be less mobility, fewer bands from abroad. It might even do good to the local scene in the long run, for those who survive the crisis.

- Is there any “Lockdown” piece of music produced recently that you can share with the readers?

- My poet friend János Lackfi called me the other day to say that he had re-written Leonard Cohen's classic into a Quarantine-Hallelujah, asking me to sing it. In the recording I sit on our living room floor, as my hobby guitarist husband accompanies me. The song became very popular, reaching several hundred thousand people in a few days: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=238705737284328

- Is there any way for music lovers to support your work, and how?

- If they listen to my songs and subscribe to my channels, that's strong support. They can leave a comment, that's always encouraging. If they come to our concert once things get back to normal, that will be the real connection.

Listen to Veronika Harcsa:

Facebook
Youtube
Bandcamp
Spotify

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Lockdown Stories: 11 Music Video Premieres From Budapest

Music video premieres Budapest, April 2020

Listen to the very first lockdown pieces of music ever from Budapest. Hungarian bands under lockdown share their feelings through their music. Listen to VENI, Kiscsillag, Margaret Island, OHNODY, Hiperkarma, Brains, Aurora, The Carbonfools, IALAZ, Mangani 808, and Saya Noé.

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(Cover photo courtesy OHNODY)

Music video premieres Budapest April 2020

VENI: Journey - Live

Premiered: 27 March 2020
Read our interview with VENI.
www.veni.hu


Kiscsillag: Nem szégyellem // karanténklip

Premiered: 3 April 2020
Facebook Page


Margaret Island - Valahol (Hivatalos videoklip)

Premiered: 5 April 2020
Facebook Page


Brains - Quarantine Heroes (Home Video)

Premiered: 7 April 2020
Facebook Page


Saya Noé - Thunder (Official Music Video)

Premiered: 28 March 2020
Facebook Page


hiperkarma – a kincsem meg én (official lyric video)

Premiered: 31 March 2020
Facebook Page


Aurora - Az élet zsoldosa 2020 (Akusztikus)

Premiered: 27 March 2020
Facebook Page


THE CARBONFOOLS – Sunburned | Official Music Video

Premiered: 1 April 2020
Facebook Page


Mangani 808 - Hős utca

Premiered: 6 April 2020
Facebook Page


IALAZ - Flying to the Sun (Official Music Video)

Premiered: 6 April 2020
Facebook Page


Ohnody - Dunának - Official Music Video

Premiered: 31 March 2020
Facebook Page


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10 Home Delivery Groceries And Pharmacies In Budapest

Home delivery groceries and pharmacies in Budapest

Nowudapest is supposed to be about events in Budapest, as you know. But given what's going on in the world right now, I must bring you something more relevant today. What groceries can you order for home delivery in Budapest? Are there any pharmacies offering online service in Budapest? Well, here are seven groceries and three pharmacies that take online orders. I have included direct links to their webshops. These websites are in Hungarian with no English menu (I know), so you will need to either translate it or get some help from your Hungarian friends and family.

If you haven't already, sign up to our newsletter to get Budapest updates!

(Cover photo courtesy Toa Heftibe)


Home Delivery Groceries

Kifli.hu

What you can order online from Kifli.hu:

  • Bakery and confectionery
  • Vegetable and fruit
  • Meat and fish
  • Processed meat
  • Dairy products and eggs
  • Frozen food
  • Canned food
  • Drinks
  • Baby and child
  • Beauty
  • Chemical and stationery
  • Home, office

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu yet.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://kifli.hu/?popup=delivery" target="_blank"]MAP OF THE AREA THEY SERVE[/button] [button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://kifli.hu" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Ne Pazarolj & Farm To Fork Online

What you can order online from Ne Pazarolj & Farm To Fork Online:

  • Sweets, muesli, and snacks
  • Farm2Fork - vegetables, fruits
  • Spices and teas
  • Cereals and legumes
  • Tools for use
  • Hygiene products
  • Pantry
  • Flours, groats, bran
  • Kitchen products
  • Seeds and sundries
  • Oils and kinds of vinegar
  • Salt, sugar
  • Dairy products
  • Bakery

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. Your order placed by noon on Wednesday will be delivered on the following Thursday or Friday. Your order placed by noon on Sunday will be delivered the following Tuesday or Wednesday. You can find more information in the email confirming your order. Currently, you can order baked goods and dairy products by personal collection only.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://www.nepazarolj.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Húspont Webáruház

What you can order online from Húspont Webáruház:

  • Poultry
  • Pork
  • Cattle
  • Calf
  • Sheep
  • Venison
  • Fish&Shellfish

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. Orders can be received from all over Budapest and from some settlements in Pest County, which will be delivered to your home by courier service, refrigerated cars, on the day and time selected at the time of purchase.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://huswebaruhaz.hu/informacio/szallitasi-feltetelek-2" target="_blank"]MAP OF THE AREA THEY SERVE[/button] [button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://huswebaruhaz.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


VegaBox

What you can order online from VegaBox:

  • Dried fruits
  • Organic Juices
  • Organic Fruits
  • Organic Vegetables
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruits
  • Juices
  • Seeds
  • Pickles
  • Dry Goods / Pasta
  • Kinds of honey

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. They deliver on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Where they deliver to: Budajenő, Budakalász, Budakeszi, Budapest II. kerület, Budapest III. kerület, Budapest XII. kerület, Budapest XIII. kerület, Páty, Perbál, Pilisborosjenő, Piliscsaba, Pilisjászfalu, Pilisszentiván, Pilisvörösvár, Pomáz, Solymár, Szentendre, Telki, Úny, Üröm.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://vegabox.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Neked Terem

What you can order online from Neked Terem:

  • Weekly Boxes: organic vegetable box; vegetable box; free-range egg box; fruit box and more
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Organic vegetables & fruits
  • Mushroom
  • Egg
  • Bread
  • Fresh meat
  • Dairy products
  • Honey
  • Jam
  • Pickles
  • Juice

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. You can order custom boxes for each week or just shop as you go. They deliver twice a week; on Tuesday and Friday.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://nekedterem.hu/vasarlas-6-lepesben" target="_blank"]MAP OF THE AREA THEY SERVE[/button] [button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://nekedterem.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Express by ROKSH

What you can order online from Express by ROKSH:

  • Basic food
  • Dairy products
  • Egg
  • Bakery
  • Baby food
  • Meat
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Pet food
  • Household
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. They cover the whole of Budapest.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://express.roksh.com/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Csak a jó sör

What you can order online from Csak a jó sör:

  • Beer

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="http://www.csakajosor.hu" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


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Home Delivery Pharmacies

Unipatika

You can order medicine with express 1-2 hours and 12 hours delivery option in Budapest.

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://unipatika.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Pingvin Patika

Get medicine for any Hungarian address.

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. Delivery time might be longer as usual due to the volume of orders.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://pingvinpatika.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]


Patika 24

Order medicine for any Hungarian address.

[icon name="info" class="" unprefixed_class=""] There is no English menu. Delivery time might be longer as usual due to the volume of orders.

[button fa="fa-info" style="primary" href="https://patika24.hu/" target="_blank"]ORDER ONLINE[/button]

Lockdown Music Stories: VENI

VENI Veronika Szász, István Bata interview

“Our democratic society needs its unique and diverse cultural and media landscape in this historical situation, which was unimaginable until recently,” said German culture minister Monika Grütters. “The creative courage of creative people can help to overcome the crisis. We should seize every opportunity to create good things for the future. That is why the following applies: artists are not only indispensable but also vital, especially now”.

These lines, coming from the German government in March 2020, confirm my thoughts about the role of artists, especially now. This is why I was asking Veronika Szász and István Bata from VENI a few questions about the current situation. I was curious about how they are doing, what they are thinking, under lockdown?

If you haven't already, sign up to the Budapest Weekly Newsletter to get updates about Budapest stories!

VENI Veronika Szász

VENI

- How can musicians in Budapest now help society? How can bands, with their creative courage, point to a better future?

- Veronika Szász: It is up to the artists to be creative and to create works that invite others to interact. Throughout history, many creative artists have worked all their lives without being appreciated by the audience. Many died poor and lonely, without any fame. Yet they did what they had to do because the real artist always wants to create. This is still the same, even though we have many doubts and fears.

- Do you get any extra inspiration from such a historic situation? Do you guys feel more motivated now? Does isolation change much in artistic work?

- Veronika Szász: I grew up in a poor and humble family, never travelled much, went to a restaurant, did wellness, etc. My everyday life was spent with creation, in which I lived out my unrealistic desires. So for me, this is like what I have practiced for 31 years. What's interesting is that now other people are being forced into my lifestyle too, so maybe they will have a greater hunger for art. Not only do hard times create new and more open recipients, but maybe a lot of people do start now to draw, sing, or play their dusty flute. And this is something that will make the world more beautiful.

- István Bata: Creative work is usually a lonely activity, and this situation now may even be beneficial in that one is less distracted during a creative process. In the life of our band, creative background work has always been time-consuming, and there is more time now. Instead of continuous spinning, calm attention and thoroughness took over. Of course, this should not necessarily accompany a pandemic, so the smartest thing to do now is focusing on what long-forgotten truths teach us.

VENI Veronika Szász

VENI

- How do you intend to (re)connect with your audience in these circumstances? What new tools and platforms you would think are going to help to achieve this?

- Veronika Szász: Fortunately, our audience follows us, listens to what we have to say, and does not shy away from giving us feedback. It might as well happen that there will be new followers too, for which we would be very grateful. But the magic of live contact and live music cannot be replaced in any way. What's more, our music comes to life when performing live, to interpret our songs in an improvisational way in interaction with the audience, when both of us have a distinct strength in pure, virtuoso and suggestive live play.

- István Bata: When thinking of performing arts, it is an important thing to experience performances in the present. Although these can now be done virtually in an alternative way, the digital space is not in any way a substitute for a personal presence. It lacks the power of the occasional nature of a performance. Therefore, I think that in this inward-looking period, everyone should put their sensitivity to the world on a new base, so the concert experience can be re-evaluated, among many other things.

VENI Veronika Szász István Bata

VENI Veronika Szász

VENI

- What you would think the single biggest change is going to be in the world of music in Budapest once this crisis ends?

- István Bata:  If the economy suffers from global emergency stoppages (which, let's face it, there is a good chance for), then there will also be fewer financial resources for art. If this happens, it will affect the livelihoods of musicians and other artists as well, but prosperity has never favoured creativity. So instead of having bread, we might get inspiration as a result of the difficulty of recovering. Creativity is always most needed where a situation needs to be resolved.

- Is there any “Lockdown” piece of music produced recently that you can share with the readers?

- Veronika Szász: We have been in quarantine for a couple of weeks only, and certainly, we have new music since, but it takes longer for us to polish songs before we play them. Neither the current situation can discourage us from producing the quality that people have come to expect from us. However, there is a way we can give, which we think is very important, so we keep making recordings that we can share with our audience.

- Is there any way for music lovers to support your work, and how?

- István Bata: The main income of bands is the honour of concert performance, followed by the sale of recordings, most of which nowadays also take place after the concerts. Because these are now impossible, people can only support performers by buying their music on Spotify and other platforms, watching their videos on Youtube, and giving feedback on social platforms. One important thing we keep trying to keep in mind is that an artist should be represented in the cyberspace by his or her works, not by the private life of an individual who has been captured at home.

VENI Veronika Szász

VENI

Veronika Szász, author, singer, fine artist and István Bata multi-instrumentalist musician started working together in spring 2016. The album, under the title Unfold, was released in the winter of 2018, by Gábor Deutsch (Anorganik). The songs premiered in the spring of 2019 at the Knight's Hall of St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest. This is a conceptually composed, mostly 75-minute long improvisational program of electronic music. The material is a conversation of vocals and instrumental play in an artificial music sphere.

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