In the Living Gallery Budapest, the “No ordinary Budapest” project, created by Marysia Ananiewska, recently opened with an event combining visual art, music and physical performances within a unique art experience.The second performance took place last week. The topic of this event was “Walls Can See.” It concerns the outside walls (buildings, statues, monuments) of Budapest and what they witness and the inside walls (physical and mental) on which three artists collaborated. We asked the creator and the collaborating artists about this mind-blowing event; its concept, future, message and the artistic techniques.
“We have gathered three artists again and this time it is going to be Michael Pettet‘s series of digital paintings, “Postcards from Budapest,” with a physical performance “Walls Can See” by the Bulgarian actor Nikolai Barzakov and a Dutch sound artist Adrian Newgent.
So as always we have a very international team and extremely talented artists that I put together to reveal the topic of walls and their importance in our lives. It is funny how three artists have three different approaches about walls and see their importance in three different ways. They expressed it very nicely in this little interview.
And though they are three absolutely different men from different countries, different personalities, different views and even of a different age – I found three of them having something really subtle, but really important, in common. Some sort of thoughtfulness, the way they process information, a little darkness even…And they are an amazing team and we really enjoy being with each other even outside the project.
It is a very strong project so far and I hope that everybody will like the result” – said Marysia.
“We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.” (Isaiah 59:10)
Could you tell us a few words about the concept of your performance?
“Walls are memories, stories, lives. They are our past and our future. They cannot be just put in a simple category with a label on it. That`s why we felt the urge to ‘divide’ our intention into pieces and give it a ‘shape’ in terms of the universal dialectic. We`re exploring the journey of a concept through different dimensions. This is not a story of one man or society, but shifting constants. The performance has three parts which symbolically can be named ‘Paradise’, ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Hell’. How a dream of never ending summer can become a nightmare box. What are the stories behind our trivial masks? Can a wall preserve an identity?
What do we recall when we hear “walls” – barriers, obstacles, ‘break the wall’? And why is that? Because they know our stories. Our fears are written on them. We`re ashamed. Afraid. But instead of crushing them here and there, let`s try to observe them. They`re trying to tell us something. Walls can see, we may be the blind ones.
I expect the publis to hear their inner voice. To be present and aware of themselves. We also include a ‘blink’ for all artists. We couldn`t help it and ‘broke’ the fourth wall.
The structure of the performance is very stable and the work with Adrian Newgent (sound artist) is a pure pleasure. I would like to expand and present the performance on a big stage, but only time can tell.”
The inspiration for the performance came from various places. I`m crazy about puzzles and this is a big and complicated one to solve. It`s about exploring my own barriers and fears. A lot came from the Bible, to see how a wall can work properly. That you can lean on something and also create your own shapes.”
Adrian is a wonderful professional. He can make a dream come true. I would gladly work with him on other projects.
I`m working with physical theatre and especially with the system of Michael Chekhov. I`m using the body to express the flight of the soul. And of course it won`t be pure magic If I doesn`t include some secret tricks.”
Nikolai Barzakov (actor, Bulgaria) moved to Budapest recently to work on solo projects and run his acting courses. He won several awards in Europe, including an award for the role of the writer in the play “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon – “Traces of Generation”, Vilnius, Lithuania and an award for “Best actors duet” – “The Zoo Story” by Edward Albee – “Students mask 2008” Moscow, Russia.
“The concept that is being held while working on the music of “Walls Can See” is to find ways to constantly build and break down walls in a musical way, in the meantime forming relations with these “symbolic” walls. These relations can be comfort, anxiety, strength or fear. Laptop, guitar and vocals are in the centre of the musical machine that guides the process through all the stages.
A lot of use is made of live looping from the guitar and microphone as well as the infinite ability of the computer to manipulate sound.
The performance is put together in collaboration with Nilolay Barzakov who will do the physical expression.
Our collaboration is nicely balanced with both of us providing suggestions and ideas, then picking the ones that appeal best to both of us. It becomes a very personal and somewhat intimate experience that can be felt by the observers.
This balanced collaboration was established when coming up with a concept and the filming of the promotion video for the event.
The video was shot in an empty apartment that was set for renovation where we were allowed to break one of the walls.
From the beginning of the shooting I already felt a trust towards and coming from the rest of the team.
At that moment we understood what our strengths in communication are and could basically trust each other that we will always find the best way to contribute to a common outcome, which grows more as we develop the concept to a final product for the performance itself.”
Adrian Newgent (sound artist, Holland) moved to Hungary in 2012 and worked as a sound artist on many projects, including “Hypochondria” by Zoltan Grecso, “Simeon” by Marton Csuzi and “Totem és Tabu by Rádioballet.
“Budapest’s architectural grace and beauty stand as a testament to man’s creativity and ingenuity and yet we feel unsettled and disorientated by the untidy reminders of numerous generations that have lived and perished here before us. Our sense of chronology fails us.
The walls of this great city peel at every turn and beneath each wallpapered layer another story of human existence, long forgotten, is revealed to those who still inhabit its buildings. It is the turn of today’s living residents to pursue their dreams among the decaying reminders of former lives now extinguished, but once full of vibrancy and aspirations of endurance and permanence. In these pictures I am trying to show the cumulative effect of past events upon our collective identity and memory.
To remind us all that although the city does not literally live and breathe, from within and from without, its walls can see.”
Michael Pettet (UK) lives and works in Budapest, Hungary. His artwork was represented in the galleries worldwide, including the Knights Park Gallery, Kingston University, London, Centro Colombo Americano, Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia and Museo del Ex-Convento, Tepoztlan, Mexico.