• Steven Heller

Hungary’s Once Invisible Visible Punk

Given the emergence (once again) of right-wing political leadership in Hungary, it is painful to look at the Punk movement of the 1980s when Hungary was still reveling in its Communist rebellion. It has been reported by members of the movement that Punk in early 1980s-Hungary was more than just a fashion statement. Looking stylish as hell never hurts though, especially when your enemy is omnipotent state control,

The new wave bands wanted visibility, but they wanted to be underground. They made posters called “antiplakas,” a visual phenomenon that was a code for a youth culture aesthetic called Kádár. When it was gone it was “the last underground underground.”

These “papercards” lasted only a short time before they were torn down. “Yet they worked: they attracted the trendsetter to the concerts.” A year ago, in 2017, they were exhibited at The Kieselbach Gallery and published in Golden Age of Hell. New wave concert tickets from the 80s, the book by the collectors György Szabó and Tamás Szőnyei from which these are taken, is a massive tome.

“The invisible vibration of the underground passage in Budapest today can be experienced again today” notes the authors. The underground music scene is on the surface, conquering the Great Circuit. Kieselbach Gallery has preserved the only authentic visual impression of a decade’s underground life. (Shout out to East Europe correspondent Mirko Ilic.)

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