Press release Hradby Samoty 2022

22 Jun 2022

Hradby Samoty XI. – The New Beginning in the Depths of Oblivion

Festival of experimental audio-visual art
Coburg castle Jelšava, Slovakia

Festival Hradby Samoty starts second decade of its existence. The first one provided us with wild and interesting history – from humble beginning, when bunch of fans met at the ruins of Cimburk castle, Hradby transformed into a solidly established event of European standard in Rosice u Brna, to its final form of music-visual art festival of national importance in Moravany nad Váhom. Despite common issues with financing, countless logistical trouble caused by the whole covid situation – Hradby Samoty’s managed to find solid form and shape, so the fans ‘ve always known beforehand what to expect. What should be done with such a legacy? Blow it up, change everything and start anew! That’s why this year Hradby Samoty won’t be found at the outskirts of Brno, or near a comfy spa town. No, the festival is about to make a glorious return to one of the most obscure places in its history – abandoned castle in Jelšava.

When Bram Stoker roamed the regions of Central Europe, looking for an inspiration for his most famous novel Dracula, he fell in love with the landscape and vistas of Gemer and Košice, arguably, he enjoyed them even more than such mysterious and legendary places as Transylvania and Moldova. The motifs and inspiration he gathered at the border of East and Central Slovakia, are some of the basal elements that form the distinctive atmosphere found in suffocating lair of immortal Vampire of his novel. It cannot be ruled out, that some inspiration was found directly at Jelšava! Thereby, this place is a great location for yet another rebirth of Hradby Samoty, and local castle provides a huge opportunity to realize the original goal of the festival: to bring back life, as well as culture to long abandoned and forgotten places.

Last year it was decided, that Hradby wouldn’t return to Moravany anymore. Then, when word “Jelšava” was uttered and circulated among organizers, they all began to understand, that Hradby at this place cannot just happen as usual – get there, organize few gigs and disappear. Jelšava requires different approach to visitors, as well as line-up, which can be described by the word: site-specific – whole situation, every participant/organizer/performer/visitor (roles that are quite often undistinguishable at Hradby) are intertwined with very unique region of Gemer.

Nearby Jelšava, many historical and technical sites are to be found, and some of them are going to be open exclusively during the festival! Among them you can visit for example the old church - Rotunda of St. Margaret of Antioch, or The Blast Furnace in Sirk. We shall not forget, that one of the most important performances of the whole festival is going to take place at historical site – Fero Király’s pipe organ interpretation of the work of Philip Glass in Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jelšava. This concert also marks the first articulated effort and intention to save the local pipe organ, not only by pointing out it’s pretty bad technical condition, but also by focusing our attention to historical and cultural importance of this instrument.

Needless to say you can look forward to another traditional part of the festival - performances of various electronic and electroacoustic projects from the whole broader region of Central Europe, like a Polish experimental jazz clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel, or rhythmic industrial collective Operant, even the first black metal band to ever play at the festival – Zmyrna (CZ/SK), we shall also mention Lithuanian experimenters Vilkduja and Veliu Namai. This large variety of different genres is spiced up even more not only by orthodox noise projects like Dead Factory, Einleitungszeit, but also increasingly popular free tekno matadors Maraki and Havocknoize. Dungeonsynth fits Jelšava like a glove, and so does Czech projects Vyšehrad, Dunkelbot or Slovak Owlsilar Gate, or if you wish try a bit more abstract performances of Angel Epilepsia, Krajné Čierno, martial Blind Ruler Cursed Land, drone destruction by Kragrowargkomn, and last but not least - let’s try the bold performance by a provocative nomad Samčo Brat dážďoviek.

Of course, we can’t omit visual arts provided by more than a dozen artist under the patronage of Omar Mirza. Their collective effort is called “Plague, Pandemic, War, Climate Crisis” – We are not living in the most beautiful of ages, and art doesn’t have to be just about beauty, it can also give you a powerful punch, and then, after the catharsis, we may figure out, that it’s within our reach to change something – if not the World, at least ourselves. The exhibition will introduce the work of Slovak male and female artist, producing large variety of forms and formats like painting, photography, object or installation. Ján Bátorek, Roman Bicek, Radovan Čerevka, Matej Fabian, Šimon Chyla, Michaela Knížová, Jan Kostaa, Richard Marco, Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič, Michal Nagypál, Zuzana Sabová a Ľubomíra Sekerášová – all of them will offer their comment on account of present day in the cold depths of Coburgh castle in Jelšava. Plague, disaster, catastrophe, illness, vermin, scum. Solitude, darkness, war, death, (post)apocalyptic punk and (post)conceptual folklore, pop-culture “reality” reflected in a metamorphosis of man, nature and their mutual complicated relation – these are some of the topics, presented by the involved artists. Motif of Skull is quite commonly found in the works on display, skull which isn’t only a symbol of finiteness, but also resurrection – the fact, that may give us a small dose of hope, maybe everything hasn’t been lost… yet

In addition to exhibitions, several interactive workshops will take place as well, like knitting, blueprint and we can’t forget videomapping/videoart - this time done by analog overhead projectors, producing images directly onto the walls of the castle.

Everything mentioned above represents just a chunk of rich array of activities, that you may take part in in Jelšava, but one of the most unique opportunities are planned trips, using festival transportation with provided tour guides who will ease you in to the rich, unique history and enormous potential of Gemer region - all just waiting there to be discovered. Even though Jelšava does not offer the luxury of Moravian metropole, or the calming aura of spa resort city, it still offers many experiences, that you wouldn’t be able to get on previous volumes of the festival. This year, Hradby Samoty goes in vein of strong opposition against commercial stands, expensive fast food venues, omnipresent product placement. Now the festival is looking back at the roots of the term site-specific, just like in years 2010 and 2017. What can be more real than dark music pounding at a place, where during a sleepless night you won’t hear relentless buzz of a city, but only whispering of almost forgotten tales, myths and legends?

Festival bus Bratislava - Nitra - Banská Bystrica and back: