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Home/ Exhibitions/ East of Eden. Rebels in Budapest – Rubi & Lóze

East of Eden. Rebels in Budapest – Rubi & Lóze

Visiting is free of charge
January 16, 2020 – February 23, 2020
Every day 11 am – 7 pm
Closed on public holidays.
Capa Center – 8F Gallery
Curator: Gabriella Csizek, Dávid Sándor

The images of the exhibition were selected from the book Beat, Pop, Rock – Falak és Hangfalak (Beat, Pop, Rock – Walls and Speakers), the fifth album of the thematic photography album series of 10 planned volumes published by Fortepan and ZuckerMűvek, as well as from private collections.

In the first year of the so-called ‘actually existing socialism,’ sports were the only recreational activities worthy of support, which were not directly permeated by political propaganda. Sports did not fall out of favor with the system later on either, but one of the cornerstones of the so-called Goulash Communism – the consolidation following the revolution of 1956 – was to broaden the range of entertainment forms available for the larger public, including such “bourgeois leftovers” and “genteel escapades” as dance and music clubs or collecting stamps, but even amateur photography became a kind of “movement” in this period.

Although the higher quality cameras, even those produced in Socialist countries, were rather costly at that time, there were really cheap apparatuses as well, and the raw material, just as the amateur lab equipment, could be purchased at a relatively low price. As a result, photography became exponentially more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, and although the administration tried to maintain an appropriate level of supervision – primarily through the patronized clubs and circles, – not all amateur photographers were required to register, so full control could be exercised only over the actually published works.

Sándor Rubinstein and László Sándor were not members of any photography circles, and they did not participate in exhibitions, but this is not the only reason why they were considered “outlaws.” Their images clearly testify to that these two young men embodied exactly what the system was trying to protect its youth from so zealously: nonconformity, deviance, rebellion, things that were considered to be the mimicking of “the West” back then.

Árpád Pullai, the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Young Communist League (KISZ), announced already in 1962, at the 7th Congress of the state-party, MSZMP, that “there are hooligans embodying the decadent, distorted life philosophy.” He added right away that it was “wrong to lump them in with those who have gone astray and joined them due to the misinterpretation of modernity, the chasing of false romanticism, or an excessive sensationalism.” Yet, the press propaganda at that time, or even 10 years later, as well as the authorities themselves, were not so lenient. The outrage of the dedicated journalists was usually met with “the agreement of the working masses,” and it usually went unnoted when one or two slaps were handed out in the holding room… At the same time, this did not really matter to those concerned. Because it is true that the youth of the 1960s (and 1970s, 1980s) did not primarily question the omnipotence of the system, and they did not want to raise barricades (at least not in Hungary), but they clang to the new music, the new fashion, and the promise of freedom associated with them, with such a force that the ruling power had no way of handling it.

At times it tried to shatter it, other times to use if for its own purposes (through rather pitiful methods). Yet, the guys like László Sándor or Sándor Rubinstein were hopeless cases for the Communist (and probably any kind of) authority. Namely, they are the kind of rebels, who instinctively see through the brick wall, and so they do not keep to the rules, seeing their impossibility and inherent lies. Most probably, they were not the only ones, but they are nearly unique in that they captured this peculiar state of existence, photography being their passion. (Tibor Legát, journalist)

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