Alles over kunst

21 Tracks for the 21st Century: Dóra Benyó

HART magazine and Q-O2, a Brussels-based space for experimental music and sound art, join forces with 21 Tracks for the 21st Century, a series of playlists to gear ourselves for our present century. We ask our guests: what music does this century need? As tonic, as engine-fuel, as rhythm, as common ground, as ballast? Each time, we invite one artist, thinker or musician to prepare a playlist of those sounds, songs and pieces of music that will best arm their listeners with the tools to approach what is left of this young century. Each playlist will be published online and accompanied by a short introduction to the guest(s). For this month's edition, we invited painter and video and performance artist Dóra Benyó, who put together a two-part playlist featuring sounds from the Hungarian underground and pop scenes from the 60s to the 80s and beyond.

Dóra Benyó with view of Kézzel Készített Jelkép (Handmade Emblem), 2021, photo Silvia Cappellari

Dóra Benyó (1989, Budapest) lives and works between The Hague, Brussels and Budapest. Through video, performance and painting, Benyó uses her own genealogy to speak of censorship and authority in Hungary during the Soviet era. From a personal quest for belonging, she searches for traces left by dictatorship on her family, using the position of the eternal newcomer, existing between two worlds.

‘During the communist era, under the Kádár regime in Hungary, you were not allowed to talk about certain things. For instance, you could not mention that the country was bankrupt, remember the revolution, or discuss democracy or minorities in society. By talking about these off-limits topics, there was a good chance you would be watched sooner or later. This happened within cultural institutions, education, television, publications and the music scene.’

‘The first ten songs of this playlist come from a KIOSK radio show I did in Brussels. They are from different bands from the 80s, who were watched by the secret service. They didn't always literally criticise the political system in which they were living. You have to read between the lines.’


  1. Rés – Bunkócska És A Turulmadár

Translation: 'Little jerk and Turulmadár [a Hungarian mythological bird]'.

In this song, the little jerk is the Soviet Union and the Turulmadár is Hungary.



  1. Rés – Klasszikus scrácok

Translation: 'Classical guys'.



  1. Trabant – Ragaszthatahlan szív

Trabant – referring to the brand of the East German car. They focused on writing songs and instantly recording them on lo-tech devices.

Lyrics:

unglue-able heart
It calls to you, it sucks you unforgettable curve
Dances around you, while its’s chaining me to you I could be bored

But now the dream becomes a veil
that stands immovable on the other side, Its faces you
Waiting alone for you

It's hard to wake up
Here is the dream. Found like that It's a tiring morning
I don't get up, I am not leaving
I am sleeping on

  1. Trabant – Itt van, pedig senki se hívta

Translation: 'He is here, but nobody invited him'.



  1. Európa Kiadó – Fiatal Magyarok

Lyrics:

Young Hungarians are shaking the street
Budapest is trembling and people don't even know
Which one of them brought this vibration,
From the suburbs to the city centre.



  1. Kontroll Csoport – Besugók es Provokátorok

The name translates to 'Control Group'. Their songs were very underground in the 80s, with a lot of literal, critical lyrics. Now they are pretty famous.

Lyrics:

Informants and provocateurs
I never think during a concert
about you

Nice, nice, nice, nice faces I see
But it is better if you know
That in our own way we are also watching you

Whoever stands in front of you is our man
you're blushing
you're busted
Informants and provocateurs

We know you came up from the countryside
And this was the best job to get
The program that you chose
Informants and provocateurs


  1. Kontroll Csoport – A Felélem Háza

Lyrics:

what is now
dogs in the ruins, stay in the dreams of mad engineers
I don't know where you live

I don't know where you will go
But I saw the house they will take you to
That place is called the house of fear

You are not alone
Someone's been listening all night
You are not alone
The walls got ears again.

we don't like your eyes
we don't like your mouth
we don't like your voice
we don't like the fact that
We have to wait for you


  1. Balaton – Mindig mindent

Víg Mihály, the singer of this band also composed, wrote and played in Trabant. Balaton is the biggest lake in Hungary and Europe.

Lyrics:

You always have to regret everything
You are not aloud to say anything for free
Every word you say is misunderstood and
There's no one to help you

Everybody thinks it's about him and
Nobody knows it's not about that
Everybody thinks you're misunderstood
There's no one to help you


  1. A.E. Bizottság – Baad Schandau

Albert Einstein Committee. In Hungarian: A.E. Bizottság.

Formed in 1980 in order to enter a local talent contest, A.E. Bizottság was a band, an art project, a filmmakers' collective, a state of mind, a threat to the existing order. They were a total mess.



  1. A.E. Bizottság – Szerelem, szerelem

Lyrics:

The love is here again, my hand palms are sweating again. Why
I am only thinking of her again. I want something big thing again. Why
I see her everywhere again. I hear her everywhere again. Why

Love. Love. Love.
We have to spit. We have to spit.


END of KIOSK Radio. (Link here.)


‘For the following eleven songs, I continued to look for more underground music, but besides showing only underground, I also wanted to show popular music from before the regime change in Hungary. They first only played in the Eastern Bloc, and some were later allowed to play in the West. Still, their popularity didn't mean the Secret Service wasn't watching them. Informants still reported daily about the band members.’


  1. Európa Kiadó – Mocskos Idők

Translation: 'Filthy times'.

This song became the soundtrack of a new Hungarian HBO series, called A Besugó – The informant.



  1. Spions – Summer Songs Menekülj végre 1 and 2

First punk band in Hungary in 1972.

Lyrics:

I hear the guns barking run away at last
The dream is over



  1. LGT – Valaki Mondja meg, 1974

Translation: 'somebody tell me'.

This band was very famous in Hungary in the 70s. They played in LA.

Lyrics:

Birds are approaching, birds are approaching
Sprinkling death-rain over us
Birds are approaching, birds are approaching
Shedding black tears over us.

Somebody tell me why man is so good
Somebody tell me why he’s not
Somebody tell me why we turn evil
Somebody tell me why we don’t.
Somebody tell me how to live

My Father said: “Don’t hurt anyone”
Somebody has seen me hurt you.
Somebody has seen you hurt me.


  1. Bikini – Fagyi, 1987

The title means 'ice cream'. This song is about eating ice cream on a happy summer's day. One of my mother's favourite songs in her twenties.

In the 80s the band was part of the Dadaist movement in the underground scene. Slowly, over the years they started to get into the mainstream. The band still exists today.



  1. Kontrol Csoport – Ma Háború van, holnap béke, 1983

Translation: 'Today is War, Tomorrow Peace'.



  1. Omega – Gyöngyhajú lány, 1969

The title means 'pearl-haired girl'.

Omega was Hungary's most popular rock band. In socialist countries in the 70s, Omega was greeted as a genuine western band. They performed frequently in East Germany and in Poland. Even though they had a big success – people were standing in line when their album came out – informers were reporting about the members. Kayne West covered this song in 2013 and called it 'New Slaves'.



  1. URH – Bétaville

URH stands for Ultra Rock Hírügynökség. 'Ultra Rock New Agency'.

The band formed in 1980 and was only active for one year. Later they formed Európa Kiadó.



  1. Kampec Dolores – Made in Budapest, 1986.

This is from their first album.

Kampec Dolores was a unique group that merged a 'rock-in-opposition' sound with Hungarian folk musical influences and post-punk from 1986 to 2003.



  1. Balaton – A Föltámadás Szomorúsága

Translation: 'The Sadness of the Resurrection'.

The text in this song is part of a poem of Ady Endre, a poet from the end of the 19th until the beginning of the 20th century.

Lyrics:

From red, big fog-troughs
The deceiving sun shone on me,
When they said:
Rise and be free.

Perhaps in Budapest, perhaps elsewhere.
I can hardly remember anything
Of the world that was,
But sadly I rose again.

The rocks of my soul have rolled away,
Golgotha smoked and I stepped out
Risen, hesitant, hesitant
From the deep dragon's grave of the past
And as one whose blood is scarce,
I went forth new apostles
In search of new apostles


  1. Spenót – Lenin körút

Translation: 'Lenin Boulevard'.

The big boulevard in Budapest used to be called (from 1950 till 1990) Lenin Boulevard. Now one part is called Teréz Boulevard and the other Erzsébet.

Lyrics:

We are in the mid-eighties,
No one knows where we belong

From the Buda side Pest is on the other side.
The years go by, but boredom rages on.

I put my hand in your hand, I close my eyes slowly
I send a smile, but it doesn't matter who takes it,
We live for tomorrow, but we won't be
The day after tomorrow

Things have improved in Anatolia,
But things haven't got any worse on Lenin Boulevard.

No one's looking at the situation
We smoke Symphonia in confusion.


  1. Illés – Ne Gondold, 1968

This band was in the 'grey zone'. They were pretty populair and played a lot on television and in concert. Despite their success their house was often subject to searches by the police.

The band broke up in 1973 due to governmental pressure.

Lyrics:

Don't think, oh no, you own the world,
Your luck will not always be begging for you And even now the word is yours,
Don't think it'll stay that way forever,
You'd better get out of the way in a hurry



Upcoming exhibitions of Dóra Benyó:

Graukunst - Tense, Grey Space in the Middle, The Hague, 15th of June till 19th of June, www.grauzonefestival.nl

Our Fluid Territories, Meyboom Artist-run Spaces, ground floor Boulevard Pachécolaan 34, 1000 Brussels, 18-20 June; on Monday 20th of June at 20:00, Dóra Benyó is giving a performance, www.ourfluidterritories.be (online soon)

For more info, check Dóra Benyó's website.