From August 30 to September 3, 2023, for the first time in Hungary, we will be able to participate in a real, large-scale audiovisual festival. In addition to its outstanding artistic range, the charm lies in its location, the thermal power plant of Inota.
The closure and decommissioning of the Inota thermal power plant took place more than twenty years ago—more precisely in 2001—, so apart from the three colossal cooling towers, there is little to suggest that it was one of the largest Hungarian industrial investments of the 1950s, which in its heyday could have supplied the whole of Budapest with electricity. Despite its gigantic performance, its drawbacks were already recognized in the 1970s, until, despite all attempts at modernization, it became unsustainable by the end of the millennium. It could not meet environmental standards and was only able to provide a fraction of its previous output. The festival organizers saw it as their mission to develop an alternative cultural concept that would breathe new life into the complex and promote the development of industrial culture. We asked Dániel Besnyő and Gergő Kustán, the main organizers of the festival, and the team of DE_FORM Design Agency responsible for the event’s identity, about the project!
Fifteen years ago, Dani started his own art project, Secret Mapping Experiment, in which he projects light installations onto the façades of old or abandoned buildings. He had his eye on the thermal power plant for a long time, and in 2022 he finally brought two events to the site. Their success inspired the idea for the Inota Festival.
Gergő—the other main organizer of the event—has been thinking about how to make the towers culturally useful for more than ten years, and has therefore deeply immersed himself in the history of the place. When he heard that the ECoC (European Capital of Culture—the Transl.) team and Dani were thinking about organizing something at this site, he decided that however challenging the task, this was the place to do it!
What makes the event unique is that, in addition to the music program, contemporary visual art (light installations, mapping) will have equal emphasis. “I can only compare what we have envisioned and what we want to do with festivals abroad. We are also trying to build partnerships with these festivals, whether it’s the Lunchmeat festival in Prague or the Unsound festival in Krakow,” Dani explains. Gergő later added that they are also keen visitors of these festivals and have been thinking for a long time about how to create such a concept in their home country.
The festival’s identity also deserves some extra attention, which was developed by the DE_FORM Design Agency in cooperation with the main organizers and the festival’s communications team. The main concept was to create a look that would represent the industrial aesthetic of the thermal power plant. This design has been very popular in recent years, from Berkhain in Berlin to Hollywood.
The design system consists of several layers, including a character-based, unique logo, a set of symbols – the foundations of which were partly laid down by an acclaimed visual artist in the Budapest underground scene known as Nufolklore – and an easily variable identity system. “At the deepest level of the identity, there are visual elements that can be transformed from charcoal sculptures into crystals, almost like works of art. They poetically symbolize the revitalization of the coal power plant and give the whole brand a futuristic look,” says Nóra Demeczky, one of the founders of DE_FORM.
It was also essential for the DE_FORM team to be involved in a project dominated by a forward-looking fusion of music and visual culture. “We have long been huge fans of the venue, and one of the festival’s missions is to preserve this fantastic Brutalist complex. And importantly, many of the performers are among our favorites,” she added.
Tickets and more information are available on the INOTA Festival’s website.
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