Text by – GIUSEPPE ORIGO
Translater by – NICOLE SILVYA BOURIS
Arriving the last day of the Festival, my first thought after waking up in the morning (immediately after the one referring to the disgust felt for the living conditions of the tent which sheltered us for the entire trip and whose floor is now covered up by previously clean clothing and fossilized chips, all of which dressed by rain showers and so easily definable as “smelly sludge”), just inevitably ran to this fantastic experience at the “Island of Freedom”.
“Freedom” is the most appropriate term because the main product offered by Sziget is actually liberty. This is a value that is gradually being lost and conceptually dozing off in the world of the antisocial social that under a robe of apparent freedom, masks the harshest social and mental constraints.
The feeling I got, by wholly living the festival and exhausting my physical resources (even though with little regret for not having the power of ubiquity to follow up with all the performances and events), is the one of having the possibility to face the opportunity of rediscovering this value leaving aside any type of constraint and morality by still abiding by both the law and peaceful coexistence.
Learning to not care and carry on smiling with no thoughts, catching every moment and discovering its value and not making it slide away and wasting it, maybe is something that I have only partially done but am happy that I have at least taken part of not always actively, but also passively as a spectator.
Four hundred and eighty thousand people that live a week of total harmony is something that I have to admit, seems almost unbelievable today.
Yet this is how it was: no fights, no disagreements, no judgmental stares.
Sziget meant walking down the streets filled with hundreds of thousands of youngsters, women, men, kids; spontaneously being hugged by tens of perfect strangers and exchanging a sign of love by abandoning myself into their arms; getting lost; finding friends that I’d never met before, new people every night; looking at people having sex without them caring that there were other people around, especially because those people didn’t even care, in total harmony with probably what is the most natural act humans still perform.
Sziget represented the freedom of being oneself without any constraint or obligation, without any distinction between race, sex and sexuality, and all in all without passing through stupid and useless rhetoric politics and their connected manipulations.
The fact that an event like Sziget has happened in Hungary, a nation flogged by sociopolitical issues has to make us ponder.
Talking to Giulio D’Angelo, responsible for international relations at “Sziget Italia” and professor of History and Musical Esthetics at the “Tartini” Conservatory in Trieste, the reason why this festival could not have taken place in Italy was pretty clear: bureaucratic slothfulness and social senility.
If one thinks about Sziget with an open minded, it is easy to see it as a perfect machine with its perfection deriving from its attention to detail: exactly 3 minutes after every exhibition a group of volunteers started gathering all of the leftovers, absence of cash in transactions, the provision of isolating headphones for children, and the cure of every angle of the Obuda Island by decorating even the most insignificant bush by covering it with lights in order to make it an art installation.
The Sziget Festival was also some sort of a financial miracle: with a budget of only 20 million euro, it guaranteed an entire week of high-level concerts and events for more than 480 thousand spectators (let’s just think about how much Milan is spending for the organization of the Expo which is metaphorically standing on a cracked base of crystal…).
The last day of the festival we went around the island abandoning the stages for the entire day until sunset so to enjoy the heart of the Sziget Festival: her Szitizens, the inhabitants of this arcadia in the Danube waters.
Colors, sounds, smells, tastes.
You wouldn’t have time to see all the colossal artistic installations which characterize the festival, such us a group of women in traditional Balkan vests dancing to the musical keys of an accordion, even if you wanted to because there are too many distractions. As I was about to go and listen, a dog basically made of dreadlocks brought me a ball covered in mud and drool while wagging something in-between a tail and a dredd, begging me to throw it.