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Easterndazed: DIY Music Topographies @ OFF Biennale Budapest

Published June, 2015
by Easterndaze

From April 17 to June 12, 2015 we have tried to encapsulate what we have been doing in the last five years through a gallery exhibition and a series of events, which aimed to highlight the thriving DIY culture that has flourished in this region. Dozens of excellent music videos, which – with a dose of inherent irony – employ and subvert the cliches of “Eastern topography” – the concrete blocks (ghettos, right?), the ostentatious display of consumer goods, and the lo-fi aesthetic (more by necessity than choice) were displayed in the pristine white cube gallery space Higgs Field in the centre off Budapest as part of the two-month OFF Biennále Budapest, which was basically a statement against the current political status quo in Hungary. But, more importantly, six events took place which were each centered around a different label or collective – highlighting labels as flagships of activity and filters of musical nous. 

The Bratislava-based LOM label with its sonic fiend co-founder Jonas Gruska, the amazing fictive labels Wannabe Records and Csepel Industrial Music Label (who subvert the music industry economy by – paradoxically – fetishising its physical object), the legend of a man Wojciech Kucharczyk whose talk about the Polish underground and its development over the last twenty years, was fascinating (as well as his impromptu live set afterwards). 


Pavel Klusak’s videodroming night presented the most captivating videos from Czech Republic, coupled with a unique archive of Czech DIY cassette underground, some of whose representatives – the excellent Sister Body and Ruinu – performed at an underground garage space for a joint event we organised with Kuss Mich and Transformer. Serbia’s No Basement Is Deep Enough injected the clean white space with their dose of dada, aided by Antwerp’s underground star and super crooner Dennis Tyfus from Ultra Eczema. Last but not least, Budapest’s very own Farbwechsel rocked the decadent premises of the Corvinteto Bisztro – a perfect backdrop to the post-punky, kosmisch sounds of Alpár and Kokum. 

The aim of the whole thing was not to somehow glamorise or ghettoise Eastern Europe, rather, it was an attempt to bring together some of the most interesting and idiosyncratic people and put a light on their creations, freeze frame all these diverse DIY initiatives in time, as they were in 2015, accumulate the objects they produce into a hybrid, where old technologies meet new, cassettes next to HD videos next to sensor-induced sound performances next to guy playing the guitar and reading a language book. It wasn’t a statement, it was a gathering of like-minded people, whose efforts will define the development of the  underground scene to come (and no, the discussion about the death or rebirth of the underground wasn’t the point).