[documentary VR-performance]

Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture

Time traveling allows us not only to look into the mirror of our past, but to face our contemporary problems. Necromancy is about subversive imagination and alternate realities, realized as an immersive VR-journey through time and space which blends the genre of theatre and 360° film as a hybrid performance.

Fifty years ago, the Hungarian state tried to take control of the art scene. Many artists were banned and forced into hiding, but local neo-avant-garde movements found shelter in a small chapel in Balatonboglár. In the seventies these young people wanted to dream up an alternate reality for themselves through artistic work. In this key meeting place a famous independent theatre group (later Squat Theatre) presented a subversive and liberating performance based on the movie of King Kong with an early queer reference: the main male actor stepped out of the confines of his body and became a beautiful woman. They escaped the perceived reality and played with their gender identities.

For how long is it possible to create a separate universe under a dictatorship? If we must leave our home country as refugees, can we connect to other cultures?

Necromancy summons the ghosts and gives them a voice to tell us about radical freedom. In a 30-minute long mystical séance visitors can make contact with these hiding spirits of different places, not only through listening and seeing, but also touching and smelling. We invite our audience on an immersive journey spanning across continents following the traces of Squat Theatre from Budapest to New York, through missing venues, apartments and archives. Join us in a poetic attempt at remembering together and overcoming the limits of materiality.

Necromancy was an official research project and documentary performance of the Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture programme.

Photos: Zsuzsi Simon/ Nimród Nyúl

„I should not be using big words, but the poetic force that transforms the Hollywoodian technique into a politic and critical tool in Necromancy is astonishing to me. Into Platonism, into a Dostoevsky novel, or, to sound even more pompous, I could say that it is transformed even into a catholic ceremony (cf. chapel), as the storyteller immediately states that reality is a mere mirage, and the true reality can’t be seen. (...) This barely noticeable, small venue happened to host one of the greatest theatre performances of recent years.”
(Noémi Herczog, Élet és Irodalom)

„The smell of lavenders and a breeze on the shore of Lake Balaton – immersive experience created with the simplest tools – and with humour, as everybody knows that there is no money for high tech grandstanding in this scene. This simplicity does not only make the spectators accomplices in the act, but also fulfils Kelemen’s intention to make us, in the present situation, remember the forerunners of oppressed and at the same time inventive theatre.”
(Thomas Irmer, Theater der Zeit)

„It is the magical play of allusions that Kelemen accomplishes. One that finds the past in the present and looks for the future in the past.”
(Esther Slevogt, Nachtkritik)

Director, Writer: Kristóf Kelemen 
With: Dániel Baki, Chengjunyan Zhou, Kristóf Kelemen, Gabriella Schuller
Voice (Hungarian): Nóra Blanka Berényi
Voice (English): Anna Thieser
Cameraman, Editor: Nimród Nyúl / New Reflection Films
Music: Márton Kristóf 
Lighting Technician: Balázs Szabon 
VR Consultant: Fanni Fazakas 
Makeup: Krisztina Béres 
English translation: Gabriella Gál
Field Management: Panka Sándor
Visual Consultant: Virág Pázmány 
Assistant Director: Anita Totobé 
Production Manager: Andrea Kovács, Anita Totobé 
Produced by: Veszprém-Balaton 2023 – European Capital of Culture, Babel Camp
In collaboration with: Füge Productions
Creative Management: Let it Be! art agency

Special thanks: SzM – KEMKI, Artpool Art Research Center, Kultkikötő, Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute, Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, Klára Cserne, Ágnes Karolina Bakk, Chengjunyan Zhou, Sára Ungvári, Péter Márton, Gabriella Schuller (Museum of Fine Arts Budapest - KEMKI - Artpool Art Research Center), László Százados (Museum of Fine Arts Budapest - KEMKI - ADK)

Premiere: 07.09.2023. in Balatonboglár (Blue Chapel)
Created within the framework of the Performative Archives: Balatonboglár 1970-73. event series.

Full video documentation in English:

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