News Medley #1: Kartal

A project by Alicja Rogalska with Katalin Erdődi and Réka Annus

Inspired by the rich tradition of folk culture in Hungary, in particular folk singing, News Medley is a collaboration with local singing groups from across the country, who are invited to write new lyrics for selected songs from their repertoire. Through these collectively re-written songs, the participants talk about their everyday living situations and about topics — from the personal to the social and political — that are important to them and that they would like to share with a wider public.

News Medley takes Alicja Rogalska’s 2011 video work Broniów Song as its point of departure, in which the Polish visual artist collaborated with a group of singers from Southern Masovia, a rural area known for its rich folk music tradition and for having the highest unemployment rate in Poland at the time. As part of the OFF-Biennale, in collaboration with curator Katalin Erdődi and folk singer Réka Annus, Rogalska will create the first part of the series, working together with the Women’s Choir of Kartal, a village near Budapest in eastern Hungary. 

News Medley responds, among others, to the transformation of the Hungarian media landscape over the past years, in particular the shutting down of regional news agencies and the concentration of power in the hands of state-controlled public media and pro-government private ownership. The project strives to intervene in this increasingly centralized flow of information with bottom-up ‘community broadcasting’ and together with the collaborating choir, calls attention to heterogenous social, especially rural realities. It also questions what qualifies as news nowadays, which topics warrant media attention and become part of public discourse, especially in times of clickbait journalism.

The results of the collaboration with the Kartal Women’s Choir will be shown at the OFF-Biennale in 2021 in the form of an exhibition, a publication, and a series of performances by the choir in public space. The video work NEWS MEDLEY presenting the new medley and shot on location in March 2020 in Kartal will premiere 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, Budapest

A co-production of OFF Biennale Budapest and Art at Work Association, Vienna.