Veszprém | #EuropeAtHome


Text: Kilián László

Photos: Gábor Gáspár

Veszprém 2023 | English version 

In the Hungarian language we have a synonym for the word “quarantine”. It reads: vesztegzár (standstill lockdown). It is a telltale phrasing. To stay put, i.e. stay still where you are, creates a compound word with the term “lock”. Since the 13 th March, the Veszprém House of Arts has also been under lockdown. The executive work of many great ideas has temporarily been left half finished. The slogan to stay home has been decreed, and suddenly working from home has stolen the place of all that we did and could do in the castle and the city. We have taken our thoughts and ideas home, including those connected to the cultural capital, too; now that I am writing this down I am evoking all the things that have come to the surface for me in this strange home existence.

As is the case of any one of our other presentations, opening ceremonies and programmes, we have also started tackling ECoC matters so that we can continue to progress towards our goals from within the confines of our homes rather than with the ease of our previous freedom of movement and social contact, something which could be perceived as a shift towards asceticism. Indeed, it is. At least in the original sense of the Greek word. An ascetic is a person who practises, trains, or in contemporary slang: works out. An athlete in Antiquity is someone who prepares as conditions permit.

We have not ground to a halt! We have been and are pushing forward to complete a lot of tasks that have been left unfinished. We are doing a lot of preparation; we are getting prepared. We are readying ourselves for the end of the quarantine, but while the lockdown lasts, we have lots of surprises planned for our website and Facebook page...

Our days proceed in such a way that, like others, we experience how different it is to look out of our window and through the windows of others from time to time. The window is a picture frame now. It
has now received a novel, transformed meaning. We are faced with the possibilities of what it has the capabilities of showing and what it may cover up. The offcut of this picture has transformed. The mood of films scheduled for evening programmes has been altered – changing just as much as how we now look out of the windows, from our balconies or terraces. Even home gardens have come to carry a different meaning.​

It is said that helpless people will start swearing and domestic violence is on the rise because of families being locked up together. It can be so easy to believe or accept the inevitability of these facts that staying home indefinitely can unfold our lives into a soap opera of sorts. In addition to films, we are in possession of a number of virtual artworks, pictures, sculptures, poems, novels, concerts, or plays.

Though we are peering down at the empty streets and squares, we are seeing last summer’s escapades and the incoming cavalcade. We see this because we want to see it, plus because we are these days to be able to see it come to fruition eventually. When the going gets tough we joke and act comically – by ourselves or during conference calls – yet we do bring the outside world into our space. Despite having to decontaminate ourselves beforehand we believe that the essence is not lost, however. We are wearing masks to volunteer – all the while observing social distancing – and wrap the free-of-charge masks provided by the municipality of Veszprém to its citizens in their envelopes. We wear masks when we go shopping, to the bank, or the pharmacy, but we perceive it as a belated
carnival. We live in masks and costumes while having fun smiling, as this is the way we can also take care of ourselves and others. Living only makes sense if it is done with the cheerfulness worthy of the

We have to question ourselves every day, every passing week whether we would like to spend our lives confined to four walls or by completely withdrawing from the outside world. It begs the question whether solitude or sharing is more important during these times. Does sharing mean broadcasting all that is important, valuable, and which gives us strength? Or does it signify being divisive and debate- provoking? Formerly intimate and familial spaces –living rooms, kitchens, offices, home libraries– have become, or rather, have suddenly been forced to be made public to wider circles. We live in curious times of fasting when the notion of being careful has come to mean something more like self- control and moderation; we have become distanced and aloof in pandemic times.

Or could this be an atonement of sorts? We, and the whole world must decide now whether we are living in a Cartesian age spanning thoughtful insight to over-emphasized rationalisms, or that of the Carthusians, when we must keep silent like hermits. Should a wall be built around us out of the Latvian carnival, a monastery for Coronavirus?



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