Performative Activism

Eszter Klára Szabó

Performative activism is supporting a current sociopolitical issue to gain attention, and increasing one’s social capital rather than actually devoting oneself to making a difference.

This idea of wokeness has been around for a very long time already, but in recent years it has gained a lot more attention through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Because time on the internet goes relatively fast, nothing stays relevant long enough for people to actually make a change. People will choose one problem at a time—which is not more important than any other ones, but graphic enough to keep people interested—make it popular, and create posts and hashtags about it. Then the media sees this and writes articles about it to get more clicks, and this becomes an endless cycle.

The question comes up: Why do people do this? It is to make themselves feel better by fighting for good causes. A lot of the time they don’t care about actual consequences or outcomes; they are looking for the easy answer, the illusion of change, so that they don’t have to address their own contribution to the problem: a problem that people choose to ignore, until it becomes trendy so they can’t anymore. This is when they display their moral virtue to the world, because they don’t want to be called out for staying silent. Influencers and other public figures like to do this too because they can capitalize off the moment. Even large companies have taken part in this behavior: for example, during the Black Lives Matter movement, because they know how profitable it will be for them.

 A big part of this problem is Instagram infographics. There are certain pages that specialize in these kinds of social issues and make pretty, pastel-colored infographics and catchphrases with little to no elaboration or educational content.  A perfect example of this phenomenon is the account called ‘impact’, which is ironically not very impactful. ‘Impact’ prioritizes aesthetics over substance, because they know it will do better on a larger scale, as it will get a lot of reposts and drive up the likes and followers too. They are aware that people don’t want to face the discomfort that these heavy topics could possibly bring them, so they only approach them on a surface level. They try to make activism more marketable and attractive, so that it’s easier to digest for the audience, or at least to those who share their values. Even though most of these accounts have good intentions, it’s important to keep in mind that intentions don’t equal impact. Posting on your instagram stories and making symbolic gestures will not dismantle systemic issues if you’re not doing anything off the computer. Practice what you preach, or don’t preach at all!  

Being woke has become the standard by now, but people shouldn’t be required to be invested in everything that’s happening in our world. There are so many social issues that one person cannot tackle them all, learn their complexities, and approach them all with the same care and urgency. That is unrealistic and takes away from real activists. I believe it’s better if you only focus on one or two topics at a time and do that properly, as Greta Thunberg does with climate change.

Second Chance

Ela Kazandağ

Born poor,
Without any amour,
Nor armour,
I had to be a charmer,
To survive,
Only reason to thrive,
And strive,
Waiting to arrive.

To a wonderful life,
With a lovely wife,
A stable job,
And listening to a snob,
Five days a week,
If you aren’t weak,
A kid or two,
Maybe a regretful tattoo.

When we went to school,
They thought us a rule,
‘That life should be the octave above,
Do not by any means fall below,
Or you’ll be the man outside,
Who is looking with eyes open-wide’,
Oh wait that is I,
Looking at the mirror across like a horn fly.

I’m a fool,
On a stool,

Asking for hope,
Not a rope,
Begging for money,
Selling my liberty;
The infinite one,
Limited by none.

Not even law,
Was able to declaw,
My innocence,
(I tried to become infamous),
Out of pity,
They only gave me,
A fine of money,
Which was undercover cruelty.

To pay this high sum,
To higher-ranking some,
I have to sell territory,
Sight, mind or body,
I was just trying to steal cars,
For a new life behind bars,
Thanks to a decision justicial,
Now my debt is official.

Without losing any part of me,
I want to live an average happy,
I don’t want to be another tale,
Of cemented street jail,
I will waltz out my misery,
But the music has ended too early,
I want another round of dance;
A second chance.

Old Acquaintance

Áron Antal

– So going back to the previous proof, we can define the sum of the resistances in an alternating current system as the sum of the…

The bell interrupted the physics teacher at the end of the ninth period. He finished his sentence, said something about the importance of these circuits and told us the homework. I didn’t listen to it. I couldn’t. My mind was cut off at the moment the bell rang, and now it was on its way home. My body wasn’t. Some part of me knew that no matter how bad this day was, it couldn’t make its escape yet from the school, that it had to remain in the uncomfortable cold chair in the first row of the physics lecture hall. But as soon as my eyes noticed that the teacher was leaving the classroom, my body hesitated no more, and made its way through the long and dark tall hallways illuminated by a few pale light bulbs.

As I gazed out the majestic windows of the school, the darkness outside made the windows function more like mirrors. I saw that my eyes looked tired and my visage looked terribly beaten up, despite the fact that I had pumped myself full of coffee. Just like yesterday. Or the day before yesterday. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in six days. Don’t know why. Sometimes it just happens.

At this moment my mind realized that while it was executing this thought process, I was far away from school, out on the cold damp streets, on my way to the bus station. Not many people were out walking at this time of hour under these weather conditions. Not like cars. So many. Flooding the streets, flooding my head with noise and light. Nowadays everyone has a car. Why can’t people compromise? Why can’t they join each other in the pursuit of a destination? All these people sitting alone in these metal boxes as if a cruel god-like child were playing at home with toy cars while his parents were at work, easing his loneliness with the idea that all car drivers must sit alone in their metal boxes. Humans have become lonely beings.

By the time I finished this fever-dreamish thought process, I was already at the bus station, staring at the buzzing lights of the platform. Didn’t even notice it. I got on the bus; as I showed my pass to the driver, I looked ahead to search for a pair of seats where no human was sitting. Most of the pairs were occupied by a single individual, except for some where seemingly couples sat staring into the abyss of their smartphones without any interaction and perception of the outside world or each other. So I sat down on an unoccupied pair, closer to the window on the driver’s side.

As hour-like minutes went by as the bus was waiting to leave the station, I was staring out of the window. My face seemed unfamiliar in its reflection. In that reflection, I saw a body standing behind me, and a voice shortly followed its appearance.

– Is this seat reserved for someone? May I take a seat? – said a soothing voice.

– Yes of course – I replied as I turned my head. – Katie?

– Yes, oh my goodness! Long time no see! – said my old classmate Katie from elementary school.

– Yeah. How have you been? How long has it been? Four years?

– Yes. I am fine, thank you! How are you?

– Not in my best shape, but thanks, I’m holding up just fine.

After catching up and properly concluding that four eventful years had gone by since we last saw each other, we started chatting about school, classmates, and then the topic drifted to deeper thoughts. In elementary school, we didn’t really talk to each other, didn’t hate each other or anything, it just happened to be that way. But now I felt  as if we had been best friends all along. Maybe we had just grown up.

The conversation went on and on, and I felt that the world beyond these two seats on this bus wandering in the darkness on a road between endless bare fields had ceased to exist.

– Are you on social media? – she asked.

– Only on Messenger. I don’t have any other social media platform. That is the bare minimum you have to have – I replied.

– It’s for the better, I suppose. I only have Messenger too. All the other platforms just soak you in, ripping you out of reality, right?

– I have to agree. I can’t imagine what people do all day on these platforms, while they could be doing something productive. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t consume any media, but most people have gone overboard. Can’t they feel how short their life is, that every moment spent staring at the screen of your phone looking at celebrities wishing you were that rich or beautiful and wishing for a better life takes your chance away from making your own better? That even the smallest things in life make a difference and they should appreciate the little time every human being is given.

– I couldn’t have said it better myself – Katie replied.

At that moment the bus was approaching the stop where Katie had to leave.

– I was glad that we could talk. It was a pleasure – I said.

– Yes, I hope I will see you around! Have a nice day! Even in this weather.

– You too, Katie!

I was now alone again, but I didn’t feel like it. Her memory was with me, which made my soul shine with happiness on the bus, while all the other people sat there “alone.”

Even these small things in life like an old acquaintance can make you feel better both about yourself and about the world: that you can always find like-minded persons on the busride of life, but only if you gaze in the right direction.

I don’t think I need to mention that I had a good night’s sleep after this day.

Just a Normal Woman’s Life

Ezgi Yılmaztekin

She woke up. It was late. What would her boss think if she was late to work? Irresponsible, doesn’t care about her job. She rushed to the bathroom to do her makeup. Breakfast was unessential, she didn’t want to have an after-meal belly. But she couldn’t go to work without makeup. What would her colleagues think? Neglected, sloppy. She did her make-up and rapidly prepared sandwiches for her kids and her husband. She left home; as she was walking she realised that she forgot to spread cream cheese on one of the sandwiches. What would her family think? Inadequate, terrible mother. She arrived at the underground hiding her face in case she saw one of her friends; they thought that she drove to work and she couldn’t correct them. What would her friends think if they found out she didn’t have a driving license? Narrow minded, against women’s rights. She finally arrived at work. She had a lot to do. At the end of her shift she attended a meeting about the growth of the company. She had an amazing idea, but what would people think if someone who is not in a superior position made a comment about the company? Overspoken, indiscreet. Her boss stopped her on her way out, asked her what she thought about his course of action to enlarge the company. She thought it was terrible, he would be mad if she evinced, that but what would he think if she eulogized him? Calculated, adulatory. So she went on and said “The idea is open to improvement.” Her boss laughed, “What would you understand? The blame is on me for asking you.” As she walked away, her boss mumbled “Women, always measureless ”. She exited the company to pick up her kids from school. Her husband was with his friends. She stopped by her house to change from her skirt into trousers. Her boss didn’t like it when women wore trousers, he even fired a woman who wore a suit for violating the dress code. But what would the other parents think if she showed up in a skirt? Revealing, inappropriate. She took her kids home. Cooked, cleaned, did the ironing, played with the kids, went to the market. Her mother called and asked what she had cooked for her grandson. “Meatballs and spaghetti,” she replied. Her mother was so furious that she reprimanded her for not thinking about her kid’s health and asked how her husband could stand her. She was exhausted when she heard the doorbell. Her husband was home. He went to the bedroom and saw his blue shirt ironed and folded on the bed. He turned to her wife, who was about to cry. “You had one job,” he yelled. “I asked for my white shirt. I work all day and you don’t even care about me. Do you know how much pressure I am under? Am I supposed to work AND do my ironing? Can’t you at least try to be a proper wife?” She didn’t respond. She ironed his white shirt. “Finally, that is what you are supposed to do,” exclaimed her husband. She went to sleep; she had to wake up early to prepare breakfast the next morning.

Ohh her name, how could I forget. It doesn’t matter anyway; she is just a woman trying to live a normal life.

The Gray

Fatma Irmak Tuncel


6.00 am.
The alarms rang.
no time for breakfast, maybe later or… just never
Must leave the building, that’s for sure.


They were in the streets. Walking in a perfect harmony.
Or maybe,
it wasn’t harmonious. Maybe on the contrary, they were in chaos, but they couldn’t tell, even I can’t tell. Were they even there? I can’t distinguish anymore. There was nothing there as everything was there.
No sound of the steps, no sound of the cars getting unlocked. But they… they were walking, they were getting in the cars?
Yet no sound of the steps, no sound of the cars getting unlocked.
Maybe it was just because they don’t care if there was. If no one is listening, does the sound still exist? Or it’s just us who make it real…
But something is for sure,
there was no light, nor darkness.
There was only the clock.


Sun left us, it’s been… I don’t remember exactly when, but sure it was a long time ago.
No light, nor darkness.
Only the clock.


Destination is clear, all set in their cars. The rush of the time that they have set for themselves. Typical but essential.

8.00 am.
They finally converged on the massive artificial blocks filled with perfection. Those flawless, faultless blocks which were waiting for them to arrive. Now it was just them and their work. Only them and their work for the next 9 hours. The absolute happ… What was the word? I don’t remember. We don’t use it anymore. In fact, we don’t need it anymore. They will be out at 5 pm… or maybe 6 if it’s monday, or maybe 7 if it’s t… Well, does it really matter? Night or day how can you tell… since the moon left us just like the sun. Even the moon left us… Since then,
we have no light, nor darkness.
Only the clock.


Gray is no longer a color. Gray is what we have, all we have. It is the normal. Everything is the same while everything is turning into nothing. Gray is turning into nothing. And I hardly remember its name because it doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t even have its shades.

I stood there and tried to “see” them. I wanted to see them separately, individually. And for a short moment, I assumed that I had seen someone in the front seat of a car but no… the moment my eyes were locked on her, she wasn’t there anymore. She was a part of the car and the car was fading every passing minute. They were slowly becoming the street itself which was uniting with the long line of plazas overflowing from the city. They were becoming the sky, they were becoming everything.
And now that there was nothing left, it was swallowing itself and creating a tremendous emptiness just like a hungry newborn black hole. Only difference, the black hole was now a “gray hole”. In that fatal silence,
there was no light, nor darkness.
Only the clock.


It is no longer “us”. We are the part of the gray without shades, without shadows. We have lost our shadows when the sun  was gone and… the moon. My name is gray, and yours as well. We have disappeared in this agonizing soullessness, nevertheless we don’t even feel pain anymore… and now that it has us all, it is disappearing itself. There is no meaning for it to be a color if it is already the only color, the only shade. Now that it is everything, it can be finally nothing in peace. We’re all dead and this “ensemble vide” is our cemetery but our souls aren’t there.

It’s been a long time that God has left us and some even say that it was us who killed him.
There is no heaven, nor hell,
Only the clock.


and now, I completely forgot its name,

that color’s name,

that color which was all around… 

I forgot my name.

No light

No darkness


Only the clock

… tac.

Death on Two Legs: The Wave That Crushed and Rebuilt Visions

Selin Rana Özkarahan

Music is a form of art that has influenced people’s minds for generations. It has always been a way for people to express themselves and share their opinions through art. I would like to focus on a specific time in musical history and genre. The music of youth, the music our parents like to address as “loud noise,” a genre that has changed the fate of the world of art, believe it or not. Rock’n roll.

Rock music has often been branded as “the soundtrack to revolution.” Rock music has always influenced artists, whether they be painters, poets, authors or even film directors. It inspired a whole new style of clothing. A new style of painting. It encouraged people to speak out. It changed people’s minds, killed their old selves and made them anew. It is death on two legs.  It influenced everything that we call art today. Therefore I believe this music is the heart, the core of the change that has made the world we know.

In 1975 a certain album was released. This album holds a special place in my heart because it has made me who I am today. I heard it once in a movie I went to with my friends really late on a Saturday night. I went into that theatre as a thirteen-year-old child with unruly hair and no idea who I was and came out finally being myself. It was part of the soundtrack of an artistic film. As the colors on screen danced together, I heard the sound of rock and opera mixed together for the first time. It was angelic.

The album was A Night at the Opera by a group called Queen. An album that changed the fate of a band and with that inspired artists all over the world. What made this album so special is the way it took two sides of a spectrum and made them one. Lyrics that reach out to you, written like those of a prophet’s song. Two completely different genres concerning different generations, people with different backgrounds and completely different instruments blending into a perfect harmony. What is so special about music to other artists is that it has a different influence on everyone. I, a young aspiring artist, have never painted the same way after hearing this music. I’ve never written poetry the way I did before. The effects of the music I’ve consumed, the effects of this very album are visible in everything I create and always will be.

Artistic Travel

Eszter Aletta Hevesi

In the past few years traveling has been a tricky topic for everyone, considering the appearance of COVID-19. Everyone was ordered to be in lockdown, and the only place you could be was your own house and maybe some shops. For some people, the absence of traveling in their life was a huge pain, just as for me. So I asked myself: how can I still see other countries without leaving my house? At last I arrived at the solution of art.

If a person is taken away from their usual place to a dark room while they sleep, they will have no way of telling where they are. So I used this method to have a world tour in a week, without leaving our house. I slept through the night, and from the beginning of the day I listened to the music of that culture, ate traditional foods, and also played videos showing the landscape of the given country or region. Also, an important thing to mention was that I left my phone behind as much as I possibly could. It was the best decision of my life. I traveled a lot during my life but I think I succeeded the best in capturing the culture of countries when I was at home completely surrounded by them. You don’t need to travel away from your home to experience other cultures; you just need to step away from social media and dive into the different aspects of the country’s art.

An (Un)helpful Guide for Creating the Perfect K-pop Group

Adél Mihályi

Section 0: Introduction

The term k-pop means Korean pop music. It is influenced by many other genres, such as dance-pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B. Since the 2000s, it is getting more and more popular worldwide. Nowadays the k-pop fan community consists of about 100 million people and its culture influences even more. With this, the idols and groups have to reach more and more expectations; the purpose of this guide is to showcase and explain them.

Section 1: Members

When creating a new group, agencies want to find people who are spotless in every respect. They must have a past without any scandals or issues that could become a scandal in the future—so far, it is understandable. No workplace wants to hire someone who is or could be problematic, and with k-pop having an extremely critical audience, this becomes even more crucial.

Of course, applicants have to be talented in singing, rapping, dancing and even acting, and improve these skills during their training period. Out of multiple hundred trainees, only a few make it to debuting, and even fewer of them become successful.

Another important aspect is their age and visuals, but these will be mentioned in later sections.

Section 2: Concept and music

So, we have our members, now our task is to give them their concept and debut album. This usually makes it and breaks it at the same time. It is safe to go for the girl crush concept, since many groups have done it before, but many fans have already got bored of it. We can try experimental, futuristic concepts, maybe mixing multiple genres in one song, and some will like it, but some will despise it.

You could try any concept, and still not everyone would approve of it.

Section 3: Choreography

Many groups want to stand out with their dance skills, especially nowadays. K-pop songs usually come with a choreography to create an astonishing performance with complicated moves. So amazing, right? Well, people tend to say that many groups lack singing skills, so this is their way to make up for it…

On the other hand, mainly older groups tend to come with an easier dance every time, which can go viral by creating a TikTok dance challenge for the fans to join. This is a great tactic to make the music more popular and reach more social media users, even the ones who otherwise do not listen to k-pop. However, some fans complain about this, saying that idols are starting to become TikTokers instead of singers.

Section 4: Idol personas

When debuting a new group, most agencies give each member a role, a persona to which they have to adapt. This is how we get the parent figure, the funny middle child, the cute youngest, the boyfriend, the rebel, and so on—and this is how many fans get misled into thinking that their idols are also like this in real life, and that is when scandals start. To avoid such scandales, many idols are not allowed to drink, smoke, date or even drive.

Instead, they are often forced to do fanservice, either with other members (hugging them, giving them a kiss on camera, anything to demonstrate a picture perfect relationship with their coworkers) or with their fans. The latter contains smiling and nodding even when someone tells them not to date anyone because they belong to their community forever.

Many fans are lonely, and it is the idols’ task to fill that hole, even if it comes with sacrificing their own personal life; this is how being an idol becomes a lonely job.

Section 5: Comebacks and live performances

K-pop groups release new music averagely every 6-7 months, but this can be anytime between 1 month to several years. They usually come back with only 1-5 songs. Most groups do not produce or write their own songs; everything depends on the agency’s production team, from the concept to the final music video.

Labels have to be careful even with the time intervals between two comebacks, since fans complain about the lack of new content after a while, but if a group produces too much music, the agency gets the blame for overworking their idols.

After they release the album, they perform 1 or 2 tracks on music shows for around 4 weeks, which can be a very tiring period. This is why many groups only sing live for the first 1 or 2 times and use playback afterwards, creating another topic to argue about. Should they always sing live since it is their job, or only focus on dancing so they do not get exhausted, if they are not already?

Section 6: Visuals, culture, and other queasy topics

K-pop fans come for the visuals and stay for the music. This is why the general public, who is not interested in the latter, has put so much pressure on the idols in terms of looks. The basics of Korean beauty standards are slim body, pale skin, double eyelids, high nose bridge, small nose, heart-shaped lips, but the list goes on forever. Even if someone has the features mentioned above, it definitely does not mean that the audience would consider them pretty. No one is even close to perfection, but idols have to try hard to achieve it. The base of this is going on extreme diets to lose weight. Fans of course do not like that their idols are starving, but they dislike idols who gain weight even more.

This urge to have no visual holes in a group is why idols and even trainees are forced to have plastic surgery in order to increase their chances of success. Almost no idol looks like what they look like on camera. Some of them were even caught editing their photos, but honestly, can we blame them? The fans set high expectations, so idols reach even higher standards, urging their fans to follow. This is why many of them struggle with body image issues, which often get reflected back onto their idols.

Another issue about looks connects to the idols’ origin. Foreigners can also apply for auditions, they can even debut in k-pop, but of course they have to deal with a lot of discrimination, from both the agency and the audience. K-pop somehow became a privilege, and sometimes it is not even the Korean public who has a problem with foreign idols debuting. Fans tend to gatekeep the Korean language as if the groups didn’t have English lines in their songs, and the whole k-pop genre were not a mixture of many other music styles. Fans are oftentimes racist towards idols, but are offended when they do something racially ignorant.

Section 6+1: Final words

So, how to create the perfect k-pop group? Avoid all the mistakes mentioned above.

…If it seems impossible (because it is), just let the fans project their insecurities into the idols—or at least their personas.

Versatile Art

Petra Varga

I feel lucky because dance provides me the privilege to get an insight into several branches of art. It’s more complicated than it seems. I started to list for myself what forms of arts are included here. Some of my findings: first, we need music to dance. Hungarian folk music is rich in meanings and melody worlds, and there’s so much to understand. Some pieces can even be placed at a literary height.

Sometimes we have themed performances: for example. one of my favorites was the March 15 show the Felvirradt,  when we danced to Petőfi Sándor’s “Nemzeti dal” (set to a song). It was incredible how much power it held in itself. Another example is the following.

Búza közé szállt a dalos pacsirta,
hogy ha magát már odafenn kisírta.
Én is szállnék, száll a lelkem zokogva,
leszállni nem szállhatok sehova.
Nem fogad be, hova szállnom kellene,
búzavirágszemű babám kebele.

Fáj a szívem nekem belül,
Mert bú szorítja kétfelől,
Fáj a szívem bánatába,
Mert nem járhat szabadjára.

(These lyrics are from a song from Bonchida-Romanian Hungarian habitat village.)

After having music, and the steps and movements, we have to act. Every dance has its own moral, and if you want to be authentic, you have to perform it.

And finally during a performance, we wear these authentic clothes which are of inestimable value for me. I had the opportunity to meet old craftsmen who make the whole piece by themselves. The production of the material, the sewing, use of motifs, beading and any other work is made by these amazing masters’ hands. Some of the rich pieces are made over several years by several people.

Putting these pieces of arts together, we create a new form, dance, which teaches us to be sensitive to these wonders.

Being a Dancer

Helka Ondok

No one mentions how hard it is to be a dancer.

The pointe shoes break your feet, the tight bun messes up your hair. You are never slim enough, you are never good enough.

Your coach is never satisfied, even if every little part of your body hurts at the end of the day.

The constant need for approval, the stress for validation that will never come.

– Stand up straighter!

– Have you learned nothing?

– You are too slow.

– Do it again until you can do it right.

You are expected to leave your tears and your pain when you go up on the stage.

You sit in front of your mirror, crying because you don’t think you will ever be good enough.

But, when it is time to perform, and you can hear the click of the speaker, for a moment it is all worth it.

Because you move your body with the flow of the music, and your head clears.

When you hear the sweet melodies of a song you heard many times before, all your thoughts disappear.

And for a moment, I swear you get lost in the dance, the movements you’ve done plenty of times before, and you will do them again and again until they are perfect.

Being a dancer is hard. But it is all worth it, because when the music starts playing, none of your problems matter.

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