This year, Trafó - a center of contemporary arts in Budapest's 9th district - invited us to develop a project with respect to the institution’s specific neighborhood. The area is one of the hotspots of massive urban development in the inner city. As striking as the vast demolition and building activities in the town’s central districts is the flourishing of going-out places in the courtyards of evicted housing blocks and at post-industrial sites. Those temporary venues are driven by an assumed mutual benefit of cultural activities such as exhibitions, theatre and music performances or film screenings, and the commercial enterprises of cafés and pubs. However, their coexistence lasts at the most as long as the surrounding construction works haven’t reached the plot, or their alliance institutionalizes and becomes a part of the district’s regeneration concept.
According to these components of a gentrification process, in which a place like Trafó itself has its pioneering shares, we researched the culture-driven “ruin” or “garden” places - as they are called in Budapest - that existed in the inner city since the late 1990s. Our research included also the ongoing or already accomplished construction works on those terrains. From our collected visual, material and cultural-economic information we developed the project of a “Turbo Pub”.
“Turbo Pub” temporarily replaced the Trafó bar on the square in front of the arts center. It was assembled from all kinds of furniture and accessories borrowed from various “ruin” pubs. It was also composed of a constant stream of sound clips and hundreds of projected images from the same trendy places. This strategy of “hyping the hype”, of amplifying an uncanny phenomenon in urban space, to us expresses the seemingly inevitable dilemma of the gentrification discourse for the time being.
At the Living Magazine, we show some background material of our research and project a video from the operating “Turbo Pub”, accompanied by slides from the sites around former and current cultural-economic going-out places. Some of the slides document the erection of huge new buildings, some show the preservation of only historic facades, others the transitory state in which impressive old walls await the regeneration concepts that will wipe them out.
“Turbo Pub” was realized in collaboration with Kiégő Izzók / Tamás Zádor, Nóra Somlyódy and Sanyi.