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  • ECC Pécs – Assessment

    To the Presentation of Kodály Conference and Concert Centre

    Text: György Szegő
    Photos: Tamás Bujnovszky / LOMO

    The realization of the European Cultural Capital Pécs 2010 project should not be assessed within one single scheme. On the one hand it could be evaluated in terms of judgements by culture-consuming citizens – this is where we should compare programmes, the created/sustaining values with costs and expenses, but also with the chances of the project and the examples of Graz, Linz or Essen. Viewpoints for another verdict are defined by architectural press – this kind of evaluation was made by our earlier review as well as by the author of the present article on Kodály concert palace and by myself.

    Besides the experience of recipients we are also to assess post-utilized vital institutions positively influencing the region. Namely the following large-scale exhibitions realized in the latter half of the year: Hungarians in the Bauhausban (see MÉ 2010/5, which continued its journey to the Berlin-based archives), The Eight in the facelifted Modern Hungarian Gallery of JPM, the fabulous exhibition of the „repatriated” Gyugyi Zsolnay collection in the modernized Sikorsky house, the oeuvres of Pincehelyi or István Gellér B. in the series titled The Masters of Visual Arts in Pécs in the new venues of Zsolnay District and the old ones of Pécsi Gallery, the monographies of the latter and their masters, Ferenc Lantos, the 12 Years of Architecture in Southern Transdanubia in Csontváry Museum (see MÉ 2010/6), the control-events by El/Away in Nádor ruin café, the series of architectural-urbanistic programmes at Mihály Pollack Faculty, the exhibitions of Bulgarian icons or the replicas of Ravennese mosaics, the palace of the Knowledge Centre (see MÉ 2010/5), a large number of prestigious and/or popular music, theatre, film and street art events, as well as the old-new Széchenyi Square remodelled/facelifted partly for these occasions. (Not to speak of Munkácsy’s trilogy which attracted 80,000 people or the Bauhaus exhibition with 15,000 visitors, which are expressive data…) And it is also an important fact that the murals of the early Christian burial chambers and their presentation had now the chance of gaining well-deserved worldwide reputation. The fabulous concerts in the Cathedral, the international choir festival Pécs Cantat climaxed in a musical finial in the building of Kodály Centre and its first concerts to complete the top list. As everything was a bit beyond schedule (which is an understatement), visitors from distant countries could also use the new motorway inaugurated only temporarily for now. Finally, thanks to the local pride and self-discipline of the citizens the city Hungary escaped the ECC-scandal by the end of the campaign for the elections. If I compare the opportunities with the balance of success described above the deficit is undeniable. We are to remember that being outsiders we did not understand what was going on under the surface. Why were decisions delayed, why had leitmotifs and key figures to be changed, why have not the other large-scale projects been realized at last? Now when Kalligram published the book titled The Gate of Balkan? by Nóra Somlyódy Nóra with a warning-protecting-instructive question mark in the title, many of us, who have kept our fingers crossed for the city are now gasping for breath in amazement… Let me quite from the project description submitted by the local intelligentsia here: „If we want capital and skilled working force to flow into a decaying city and also to prevent young people from moving away from here then we must transform our city into a more interesting, lively and unique place…” Although politics pushed aside civillians and the intellectuals of the city expressing their wish, the exemplary model was a given for the local management. Wolfgang Lorenz, the intendant of ECC Graz 2003 said as follows: „A cultural capital is not only a place where art is present for a year, but a venue producing surplus European cultural value.” This means he was talking about knowledge economy. His town did not stop developing after 2003: last year they submitted an EU project titled „Graz, the capital of Design” and they did their best for this purpose as is proven by the past decade. The sleepy city of former imperial clerks retired by now has evolved into a contemporary citadel of art and design whilst the spirit of its past and present-day architecture entwined.

    In the prestigious Johanneum of Graz the gorgeous exhibition titled Akzent Ungarn was organized a year ago on the base of their own collection presenting the visual culture of Pécs of the past 40 years rest in a more representative way than ever in Hungary so far. For want of something better, we could have borrowed it… The fresh talents of intellectuals shall now be badly needed in Pécs as the EU actually orientates toward the Balkan region in the present crisis. Helmut Schmidt former German chancellor gave an explanation for almost exactly the „Pécs-situation” type geopolicy on December 16th in Die Zeit: „It is not prophetic idealism but our own strategic interest to preserve the European Union and with this also the European civilization… In the long run Germany takes on serious responsibility to help European states to integrate into an economically able and active alliance…” The inclusion of Croatia and Turkey is actually a proof of this. Yes, it is going to be decided during the EU presidency of Hungary whether we can do about listening to the wise directions referred to above within the framework of the Danube strategy of the EU taking shape just now. Hungarian architects will play a vital role in this.