A project by Alicja Rogalska with Katalin Erdődi and Réka Annus
“We are not made of sugar, we are made from concrete.” (Women’s Choir of Kartal)
Inspired by the rich tradition of folk culture, in particular folk singing in Hungary, NEWS MEDLEY is a collaboration between London-based Polish visual artist Alicja Rogalska, curator Katalin Erdődi, folk singer Réka Annus and the Women’s Choir of Kartal, a village near Budapest in eastern Hungary.
NEWS MEDLEY talks about life in the countryside, as experienced by different generations of women. It recounts changes in political systems and lifestyles, and the hard-working realities of everyday life, commented on with humour and sharp wit by the choir members. A medley of five songs was chosen from the choir’s repertoire and collectively re-written, bringing together personal stories with collective concerns about community life and the future of the village.
NEWS MEDLEY combines traditional local melodies with contemporary lyrics: it resists the tendency to regard folk songs as fossilised cultural heritage and instead re-introduces the vernacular practice of revising and re-writing songs to talk about the pressing issues and emotions of the current moment.
In times of polemic changes in the Hungarian media landscape and increasingly centralized information politics, NEWS MEDLEY experiments with folk songs as a form of grassroots “community broadcasting”, amplifying a heterogeneity of voices, while also asking what qualifies as news nowadays, which topics warrant media attention, especially with the rise of clickbait journalism.
The results of the collaboration with the Kartal Women’s Choir will be shown at the OFF-Biennale in the form of an exhibition including two new video works, a publication, and a series of performances by the choir in public spaces. The video work NEWS MEDLEY was shot on location in March 2020 in Kartal and premiered online on 14 November 2020 as part of OFF Biennale’s public programme.
Participating artists: Alicja Rogalska
Participating curators: Katalin Erdődi
Folk music advisor, artistic collaborator: Réka Annus
In collaboration with: Kartal Women’s Choir / Mrs István Balatoni née Erzsébet Lapu, Mrs Tibor Bereczki née Piroska Sápi, Mrs Mihály Deák née Margit Lados, Bernadett Kozjár, Mrs Pál Kozjár née Mária Bangó, Annamária Radics, Mrs László Sebők née Mária Homok, Mrs Serfőző née Piroska Kollár, Mrs József Szelei née Éva Tóth, Mrs István Szőke née Erzsébet Velikovszki, Veronika Varga, Zsanett Zsigri / Choir leader: Domonkos Volter
With the kind support of: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Austrian Cultural Forum
A co-production of OFF-Biennale Budapest and Art at Work Association, Vienna.
Time 23.04 - 30.05