Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

The bank of the danube

LORINC BOROS Visual Artist, Hungary

As I remember, we spent more time out of school that year than we were inside it. We always had a reason to convince ourselves why we should stay outside, why we should ditch classes. The grey maze of housing blocks hid terribly interesting things. There was a playground full of remains of cast iron objects, ping-pong tables, a hilly bicycle route, and stands build for eating carpets, some broken chairs, benches, flowerbeds. That was the playing field, still, the most important thing was that there was always something happening. We knew everyone on this square and everyone knew us.
Our other headquarters was about five minutes away from here. At the end of the road leading away from the square, there was the Danube, flowing towards the South, farther than the eyes could reach. The river was bordered by awkward concrete walls, forcing it on its whirling way. The riverbank was almost always free of people, with only one or two line-fisherman sitting on the concrete steps decorated with sand, mud and alluvium deposit. This is where we went in the afternoons if we had the time or if we made some for ourselves. This was our fa- vorite spot, being far enough so we couldn’t be found, but everyone in the group knew where we were if the others were not to be found on the square. This was the place where we could be (by) ourselves the most.
It was already spring when one day there appeared heaps of unwanted furniture, knickknacks and unusable objects on the square – it was the time organized by the city for clearing out junk. We got hold of the best pieces of furniture and took them to the riverbank. We built a room with a wonderful view of the Hajogyari (Shipyard) Island and the Danube. Maybe (of course) it was to do with the weather getting better, but we were spending more and more time sitting out there, writing poetry, talking philosophically about nothing, doing all this in complete comfort. After a while we started our mornings on the riverbank as well. This was the thing that made our teachers’ anger finally come down on our heads. At the same time, in a symbolic fashion, as the water level of the Danube
started rising and rising because of the floods, so did the storm clouds gather above our heads.
It was almost the same day that the flooding water swept away our riverside room and that it was took away from us by the bad news our teachers gave us: we were going to get a little book in which every school lesson had to be signed by the teacher and they also had to write a short description of our behavior. That was the end of the square and the end of the real Danube bank for that year. We were attending every lesson again, but once or twice in the afternoons if we had time and the gang did not go their separate ways, we headed down to the riverbank to smell the Danube once again.