Sándor Bernáth(y) was a painter, graphic designer, musician, founding member of the Bizottság (Committee) band, and member of the Vajda Lajos Studio. From 1975, he was an active participant of the avant-garde art scene. While he started his career as an autodidact painter, he was also tied to the underground music life from its very beginning: he designed street posters and book and record covers. For example, he was the one who designed the covers for ős-Bikini (ancient Bikini). From 1977, he was a member of the Leninvárosi Kísérleti Műhely (Leninváros Experimental Workshop), and in 1978, he joined Fölöspéldány csoport (Excess group). His first exhibition took place in 1981, at the Studio of the Young Artists’ Association. His paintings feature photographs published in various newspapers, enlarged, reinterpreted, and full of political and social criticism.
In 1980, András Wahorn, István ef Zámbó, and László feLugossy formed the band A.E. Bizottság (Committee), with Bernáth(y) as guitarist. During the initial period he was the one who organized many of the concerts, since he was the one with a telephone and an apartment in Pest, and they often built the equipment that was hard or impossible to acquire. While Bizottság became legendary over time, Bernáth(y) does not like to dwell on the past. As he put it in a 1997 interview: “I like to pay attention to the time I live in, I am interested in what I am doing right now. I do not even understand from where young people hear about Bizottság, and why they are interested in it.” At the time he was against re-releasing the two records as well. As he sees it, there were too many compromises: only a small portion of their repertoire was released, and even that was heavily censored. Meanwhile, Bizottság was more of a “a joke-dadaist artist band,” so their lyrics were not essentially political. Nonetheless, the process meant additional police reports, summons, and hearings. Due to their disagreement over the upcoming albums, after a concert where Bernáth(y) was deliberately playing on a untuned guitar and nobody mentioned a thing, he left the band.
Bernáth(y) was planning to give up his career as a musician altogether, but fate had other plans: shortly after he left Bizottság, he played in the bands Dr. Újhalnal, Matuska Silver Sound, and Szkárosi & Konnektor RT. While Matuska, launched in the middle of the ’80s, was not a particularly popular band, it was very important for Bernáth(y): with two of his friends, they started to make “machine music.” He was always interested in technology, and when he was a kid, he wanted to be mechanic, repairing and making radios. However, neither the public nor the authorities appreciated the music made with computers: for instance, one of the newspapers, Esti Hírlap (Evening Paper), wrote about it as an inhuman and antisocial phenomenon better avoided.After the transition, Bernáth(y) had an important role in the development of Hungarian electronic music, and as such, he is one of the founding fathers of techno in Hungary. In the ’90s, he was the one who organized a “techno-tent,” Love Barricade, at the Sziget Festival. In 1994, he started a techno live act formation with his son, Zsiga, under the name Bernathy & Son, which is regarded as the first electronic live act in Hungary. They were active up until Bernáth(y)’s death in 2012, and performed at a number of Hungarian and foreign events. He also established the music club Supersonic, and later Vörös Yuk & Kék Yuk (Red Hole and Blue Hole). Around that time, he was the editor and art director of the art magazine Új Hölgyfutár (New Women’s Courier), and in the ’90s, he and his son were producing the art magazine Gépszava (The Machine’s Voice), focusing on techno culture. He also regularly appeared in documentaries about the topic, such as “Az egyén diadala” (The triumph of the individual) by Zsolt Füstös and “Patrik népe” (Patrick’s people) by Gábor Zsigmond Papp. In 2011, he has awarded the Mihály Munkácsy Prize.
- Bagi, Eszter Borbála
Bendover. “Bernáth/y Sándor így írt 1996-ban a techno-ról.” Primate (blog), February 5, 2018. http://primate.hu/bernathy-sandor-igy-irt-1996-ban-a-techno-rol/.
“Bernáthy Sándor.” Wikipédia, February 8, 2017. https://hu.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bern%C3%A1thy_S%C3%A1ndor&oldid=18424916.
Csordás Lajos. “Meghalt Bernáthy Sándor.” NOL.hu, January 13, 2012. http://nol.hu/kultura/meghalt_bernathy_sandor__a_magyar_techno_egyik_osatyja-1294978.
Laczkó Ibolya. “Bernáthy Sándor.” Artportal.hu. Accessed April 30, 2018. https://artportal.hu/lexikon-muvesz/bernathy-sandor-371/.
Nagy István Gábor. “Kell a mély a technóhoz.” Index.hu, September 7, 2010. http://index.hu/kultur/zene/2010/09/07/kell_a_mely_a_technohoz/.
Quart. “Interjúk: Bernáthy Sándor.” kriszfoto.hu. Accessed April 30, 2018. http://www.kriszfoto.hu/index.php?hirek=1&url=interju/2012/2012_01_15_bernathy.
Seres László. “A gépekben van a kábítószer (Bernáth/y Sándor festő- és technoművész).” Magyar Narancs Online, February 27, 1997. http://magyarnarancs.hu/belpol/a_gepekben_van_a_kabitoszer_bernathy_sandor_festo-_es_technomuvesz-63493.