Most of the young folks, foreigners, young foreingners know the downtown Budapest (the Jewish Quarter) for its widly famous ruinbars and the vivid nightlife, which is flourishing in the buildings of the former Ghetto. In the daylight they stroll across the streets looking at the marvellous architecture, searching for food, nice shops, and in the evening the hunt for the nearest/coolest/cheapest/most expensive bar begins. But I always wonder: do these herds of tourists notice what’s on the walls of these old, sometimes rotting strucures? Do the locals know what masterpices have their houses on amongst all the tags and torn stickers?
Let’s begin our unusual tour in the VII. district of Budapest, in Dob street, where we can face a quite common sight: on the spot of a perished building – which often operates as a parking lot – the emerging, self-styled artists found their surface for expression. The first layer of painting could be here for years, or even decades and more or less talented and skilled graffiti artists make sure, that each year they give the wall a brand new attribute. It’s needless to say, that these surfaces bear little artistic values, but it’s so general, that every street has a building/place of a building like this.
Artworks of different quality, meanings and techniques are to be found in downtown Budapest: in the crossing of Kazinczy and Dob streets there is a whole family of stickers. A huge, depressing head is a part of a bigger project, similar heads with smaller alternations can be seen sparsely in the district, the false window with the weird satue is the creation of an Italian street artist, Sbagliato and don’t forget the tiny bits, the stickers covering the post.
If someone ever walks along the main street of the Jewish quarter, Kazinczy street, he/she must notice one of the most neglected houses in the area: number 40. Since the building is a monument protected by law due to its age and surroundings, but was doomed to destruction, it stands there abandoned for years now. While waiting for its fate, it seems that only the graffiti artists care about it: every now and then a new piece appears on the facade, and the decoration of the “construction area wall” changes constantly.
Apart from all these guerilla creations, we can find some really stunning murals, like the one in the crossing of Király and Kazinczy streets. The artists of the group Neopaint gave this huge wall a brand new look – with clouds and balloons and other fancy stuff – not only to cheer up the playground below, but to draw attention to the problem os many untended walls in the city.
Art found on the streets aren’t always made up by artists of the streets. Huge “stickers”, posters could be found all over the downtown area, in order to advertise a contemporary play performed by the famous Krétakör company. The title of the play is Corruption, and it was “inspired” by the annual corruptional report of Transparency International on Hungary. Guess what: the country succeeded to make the bottom three. The poster says: How would it be a crime to take the by-pass road, if it serves the public weal?
Text: Dóra Pethő
Photos: Márton Fogl