Gyöngyösi Street

I was busy in quite different jobs, when I suddenly found myself in the courtyard of Gyöngyösi Street 45, vis-à-vis the statue of the talented rock guitarist who had started with promising hopes. Here lived throughout all his short life, in the one-room flat of his parents, Béla Radics, whose fate was short-circuited by the cultural politics of the Kádár era and the alcohol together. Either by irony or by defiance, the statue captures the memorable concert moment, also recorded in a photo, when the young guitarist laughing points victory. The sculptor probably meant it as a sign of defiance, but the laugh in any case fell behind. Not a very good statue.

The residents, coming and going, or lurking from the windows, suspiciously watch me taking pictures. I understand the situation, I nod from the distance, but nobody addresses me whom I could assure that I did not come from the local government to register some unknown failure, and that I am definitely not a scout for burglars. If anyone addressed me, with a few words I could trust the reassurance on the wings of gossip. Please, I’m watching the letters, bird feeders, plastic windmills, withered flowers. Why, and you?

Despite the sad story – and presumably much more sad stories –, the courtyard is peaceful and nice, and the very sparingly designed and constructed buildings embrace a gentle, melancholically aging park. Just like the strange sculpture of the guitarist, everything is a little bit small, except for the poplar.

In the Hungarian capital this neighborhood, where the pictures were taken, has been traditionally considered as a workers’ district, although in the past twenty years, since the change of regime the factories which had employed the residents have almost all disappeared. The small size of the flats and the normal life cycle of its population has also promoted aging and slumming. On the other hand, the gradual replacement of the residents, typically with young people moving into their first flats, has also offered the possibility of rebirth. The building, especially together with its outward inscriptions, is reminiscent of German and Austrian social housing in the same period, isn’t it? Can you show us similar examples?

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