Letter from
Zsolt

Hello dear friends in Grand re Union!

A few months have passed since our first meeting in June. I hope this letter finds you in good health both physically and mentally.

Unfortunately it was not possible to meet in person in lovely Poznan and even though it was great and quite exciting to meet online it was just too short to get involved with each other, to start to converse, to share a bit more than what was possible during those few hours and maybe to get to know all of us personally. A few of you I am already very happy to know, but I guess most of you I don’t and you probably don’t know or heard about me either before. Therefore let me say a few words about myself, before I dig a little deeper, let you know what I was occupied with during the last couple of months.

I consider myself a musician playing in first line the saxophone. After I fell in love with the instrument I turned to jazz, a form of musical expression that uses a lot of saxophone as you all may know. Through jazz I discovered quite soon free form of improvisation, which turned into my way for making music. Playing this kind of way I had the opportunity to get involved with dance, an art form I was never interested in, but kept my affection since the first moment. Through dance and creating music with and for dance I received the chance to later pick up other instruments as well, so I started to play electric guitar and different electronics. Dance has also led me onto the field of organisation and artistic management, which I am active at with my artistic partner Márta Ladjánszki. We both have been leading the Budapest based L1 Association, an organisation of and for independent artists mainly from the performing arts field. I joined the NGO for the past 10 years, but have been working with lot of its members already years before.

Let me shortly share with you what I was busy with recently and not so recently – actually since earlier this year.
It has been up until now a very special one in many ways and this is probably something we all share, I guess. Lot of us are situated in countries that faced massive lockdown regulations during Spring. In Hungary this was introduced around middle of March, loosened perhaps early June or so and it is being kind of reintroduced again during these days. I am writing this letter to you from Cologne, Germany, where Marta and myself are working in a new production by the company IPtanz. In approximately 10 days we are planning to travel to Banska Bystrica, Slovakia to play a show by Márta and to lead a workshop around creative processes. For this act we are facing 14 days of quarantine on our arrival back to Hungary, which can be bought off by two pretty expensive PCR tests with obligatory negative results. Yesterday these regulations were softened a bit, so if we manage to document that this travel was out of reason of business or work, we might get the chance to avoid a total lockdown in our home. Total means in this case that you are not even aloud to go on the streets to shop food, you have to appoint someone for this task or have to have food delivered to your flat by people leading a business around it.

Just before coming to Cologne we managed to reach within a few weeks of research a satisfying point to Márta’s new creation entitled UMARMUNG, which will be the newest part of the ‘Series of Dance Performances with and for Naked Audience’ to be premiered Spring 2021. Plus we organised the main annual event of our association the so called L1danceFest, a nonprofit festival event showing international and some Hungarian (mainly L1 members’ and resident artists’) performative works concentrating mainly on the body. Since theaters are not open at this very moment in Hungary yet and since international travel is very difficult to arrange (some countries borders are locked down, no grants or subsidies are available for travel), we decided this year to go online. As a test format beginning of June we filmed and broadcasted through Facebook and YouTube another event, namely this years edition of L1 evenings. At that time we found out that even though we believe in personal, face to face meetings with our audiences, in times of need internet technology can be pretty useful for temporary solutions. I personally felt at that time that I never want to do an online event ever again, but this year’s way of organising a festival consisting of a series of shows and actions felt surprisingly satisfying, easy and smooth, and looking back on that early Summer event I feel quite happy about that one too. Right now I am not completely clear why I feel relieved about this years’ festival, but I for sure know that I feel very excited about playing a show during the day when it is not dark outside yet and I have to admit that the absence of an audience is not necessarily a bad thing either. Perhaps it brings me back that sweet spot in the studio when you are just right before the state of being able to present your work, the one right before you feel its done or it has to be pushed out finally, to that very last precious moment of transition and anticipation of what is going to come but hasn’t happened yet. Don’t know…

Speaking about performing during daytime, I realised that I always loved rehearsing before noon. Up until today the late morning hours are my favourite time of practicing my instrument, too. This is also what I was doing during the weeks of lockdown. Since all shows, concerts, travels got canceled I lost basically all work. Of course there is always a lot to administrate (voluntary based) if you have to deal with the affairs of an organisation, but since there wasn’t really no activity possible at all I gained a lot of time for the saxophone – something that I have been missing for quite a while in recent years. It was a pleasure to be able to play the instrument each day as long as I wanted to, or the neighbours were appreciating it. As of recently work started to pop up again the time for this important practice or ritual has started to shrink, but I hope I will manage to get back to those amazing hours somehow soon.

Finally I could be writing to you perhaps about Sars-Cov2, what I think and feel about what has been happening closely around it. I have experienced connected to it so much anxiety, anger, fear and panic, that I find it difficult to keep a clear head and not to get too emotional talking about it. For this reason I rather choose to skip it in this letter. I also think it probably would need another one dedicated only to these things and I am afraid I still wouldn’t be able to go as deep as wanted too. And my English is simply just not good enough for that and I have the feeling we are unfortunately not at the end of the tunnel yet, so I ask you to excuse me this time. What I hope for though is, that from here our societies won’t turn to total surveillance and control.
Another topic I would like to avoid is all those political events that shook us and are still shaking us at this moment around the globe, except one thing that is happening in my place: At this moment around 200 students of the Theater Academy in Budapest have occupied its main building protesting against the attempt of the regime to expand its control over another part of society. This resistance could be the beginning of positive changes in Hungary, but we yet have to see as we say.

Dear people! My letter is coming slowly to its ending. I am pretty sure that I forgot to write about quite a few things that might be of interest or importance to you. Let me know what has been on your minds during recent times. Hope to receive a few lines from you, but do not hope to meet you in person soon.

Wish you great days!

Your friend
Zsolt