szemmel/Inside Out' project began in July 1997. Between then
and February 1998, around 40 homeless people living in Budapest
were given simple colour disposable cameras and invited to take
photographs of whatever they felt to be important or interesting
in their everyday experience, in the knowledge that their pictures
would later be viewed publicly as part of an exhibition and web
site. The participants were approached on a fairly random basis
in the city's metro stations and homeless shelters. When the prints
were ready we recorded an interview with each photographer about
their pictures. Through the support of our sponsors we were able
to recompense the participants for their work.
Picture selection was made on the basis of each photographer's
personal preference with the exception of a few photos which were
regarded by us as being important. Each photograph is credited
to and commented on by the person to whom the camera was given
even though in many instances that person chose to be the subject
of the picture. Some pictures appear without an accompanying text
as in a few cases, once the photos were printed, we were unable
to find the photographer to record their comments. We didn't modify
the language used in the interviews to conform to a grammatically
correct standard and where possible tried to translate peculiarities
into the English texts. Within the texts, unless otherwise indicated,
the comments in parenthesis are those of the interviewer.
The work was
presented in two exhibitions. One was in the the established art
context of the Budapest Galéria, (Budapest III.,
Lajos utca 158.) Around 100 colour photographic enlargements (3
to 4 pictures by each participant) were exhibited along with their
corresponding comments. The exhibition was opened on 19 March
1998 by Sándor Kardos , filmmaker and curator
of the Horus photographic archive, and ran until 19 April.
A 20 page black and white catalogue including at least one photograph
and text by each participant was available during the exhibition.
All participants and social workers were invited (about half attended)
to this opening as well as the usual gallery mail out circle.
Although it was our status as artists that got the show in the
gallery in the first place, we tried to deflect attention away
from us so that on the posters and invitations, the main focus
of attention was on the photographers names and when radio and
television stations sent reporters to the opening, we duly passed
them on to speak to the creators of the work. To have homeless
people as the artists on show, proud and actively responding to
the reporters questions created quite an unusual and provokative
situation in what is usually quite a guarded elitist and apolitical
art scene. The show was a big success, gaining a lot of media
attention, pulling in more crowds than normally come to the gallery
in a year and was subsequently extended to allow more people to
The other exhibition was held two weeks later from 2 - 5 April
in the main hall of the FSZKI Dózsa György út
homeless shelter, the largest homeless hostel in Budapest.
Whilst there were issues relevant to art in Hungary that made
it important to show the work in the context of an art gallery,
we felt it was equally if not more important that the work be
shown in a homeless context so that it could easily be seen and
reflected upon by more people in a similar position of homelessness
and so that visitors from outside the hostel would have to step
in to this unfamiliar and somewhat uncomfortable context to see
it. The content differed in that the full interview transcripts
and ten smaller sized pictures by each participant were exhibited.
The opening was more of a screening and discussion event in which
two TV programmes about the project were screened. One was an
arts programme which featured an art theorist critiquing the work
and the other was a half hour documentary, made in collaboration
with Sándor Kardos, for 'Háló', MTV1's
social documentary series. It features many of the project's participants
discussing both their own and others photographs and a short film
directed by one of the photographers, László
Hudák. A lot of the participants attended and contributed
towards a lively discussion with us, each other, residents from
the hostel, social workers and people from outside about the project
and homelessness in general.
In the effort to take the work to a broader public, 1000 editions
of a collection of 20 postcards featuring the work of 20 photographers
were made and given to Hungarian homeless foundations to be sold.
This web site was also made to document the full interview texts
and ten photographs from each participant. A presentation and
discussion event was held at C3, the Centre for Communication
and Culture, to mark the completion and opening of the site.
The exhibition has subsequently been invited to show in a number
of cities across Europe. In 1999, it was part of the ‘Kunst
der neunziger Jahre in Ungarn’ (Hungarian Art from the
Nineties) exhibition at the Akademie der Künstler in Berlin
and was shown in Aarhus, Denmark at IMAGE photographic gallery.
It was part of the 'After the Wall: Art and Culture in post-Communist
Europe' exhibition which opened at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm
in 1999 and later toured to Budapest and Berlin in 2000. It was
included in 'Cooperativ', in Ulm, Germany at Stadthaus
Ulm in July 2000.
After the completion of the photographic project in 1998, Miklós
continued to work with one of the photographic project’s
participants, László Hudák and his circle
of friends, the ‘Tequila Gang’ on the making of a
film. The one hour long film, part fiction and part documentary,
was directed and filmed on video and super 8 by and László
and social worker, Lénárt Imre, and produced by
the Balázs Béla Studio, Budapest. ‘Tequila
Gang’ was premiered in the competition section of the
30th Hunagrian Film Festival in 1999. It has since been screened
at various European film festivals (Split, Sienna, Oberhausen)
as well as being shown alongside any subsequent exhibitions of
the ‘Saját Szemmel/Inside Out’ project. Funding
for the project enabled László and the ‘Tequila
Gang’ to move out of their homeless shelter and rent a flat
together for a period.
Texts on 'saját szemmel/inside-out' by Miklós
‘Saját Szemmel’, Hajszolt Hírlap. (March-April
'Saját Szemmel, notes on a photo project', Törökfürdő.(Winter
1999) p. 2-4. (In Hungarian)
Structure of Avoidance ' (with Duna Maver), Subsol, Webzine
- 'http://Subsol.c3.hu', (February, 2001).
Texts on 'saját szemmel/inside-out' by Dominic
out ' description (April, 2001) - not published
'Homeless project' Written for a 'Shedhalle' magazine
and web-zine which coincided with the
‘Moneynations: Border Economies’ conference in Zürich,
(23-25 October, 1998).
Other writings on 'saját szemmel/inside-out'
Abildgaard, Dorthe. ‘Down
and Out in Budapest and Vollsmose’ , India Art, [Apr 2001]
Crouse, Charity, ‘Hungarian Homeless Capture Street Life’,
StreetWise, Chicago, USA. (27 Oct - 9 Nov, 1998.) p.4. & p.21.
Coleman, Sam. ‘Life on the Streets Turned Inside-Out’,
Budapest Week (2-8 April 1998) p.23.
Bihari, László. ‘A Kenyérverő Ember’,
Magyar Hirlap. (4 April 1998.) p.14.
Palotai, János. ‘Expó’, Élet és
Irodalom. (17 April 1998.) p.18.
Schubert, Gusztáv. ‘Képtelenek’, FilmVilág
(illustrations), (May 1998)
Tillmann, J.A. ‘A szélek észlelése’,
Élet És Irodalom. (17 April 1998.) p.16.
Trencsényi, Zoltán. ‘Fényből Fabrikált
Mindennapok’, Népszabadság. (20 March 1998.)
Richardson, Joanne. 'Die O/Est-Ethik der Gegen-Dokumentation', in
46th International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen, catalogue (2000)
Preuss, Rita. ‘Gulasch-Kapitalismus’, Zitty, (28 Aug
Herbestreuth, Peter. ‘Zufallsfunde im zerstörten Haus’
Der Tagesspiegel, (30 Aug 1999.) p.29.
Suhr, Constanze. ‘Hungry Hungary’, Kunst. (30 Aug 1999.)
Tillmann, J.A. ‘Die Wahrnehmung der Runder’, Pester
Lloyd. (3-6 June 1998.) p.1.
Publication of photographs and texts
Saját Szemmel / Inside Out. Photographs and comments, inVariant,
(Spring 2000). Cover of supplement with text by Grant Kestler on
Socially Engaged Art Practice.
Radio features (all 1998)
Petőfi Rádió, Kossuth Rádió, Budapest
Rádió, Calypso and Juventus Rádió
Television features (all 1998)
‘72 Óra’, TV3.
‘Fehér Éjszakák’, Duna TV.
‘Déli Műsor’, ‘Háló’,
Homeless in Hungary
the number of homeless is considered a problematic issue in both
Hungarian and international literature. Difficulties arise from
the definition of homelessness (i.e. who do we consider to be
homeless?) and also from the heterogeneity and geographic mobility
of this group. There is however an understanding of the increasing
numbers of homeless in Hungary. It is estimated that around 20-50,000
homeless people live in Hungary, 15-20,000 of which are in the
Links to related web sites
* Communities for a sustainable future
The Mad Housers photobook.
Big Issue links
* European Roma Rights
* Roma Page
We are grateful
to the following for their sponsorship:
The Hungarian Maltese Charity Service.
HAJSZOLT Foundation- The Hungarian National Association
The Hungarian Soros Foundation.
C3 - Centre for Culture and Communication.
The British Council.
The Cultural Committee of the Municipality of Budapest.
The Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts.
Agfa - Bayer Hungária Ltd.
MAHIR City-poster Ltd.
Dob utca 97. Ltd. Wiz-Art
We are indebted to the following for all their help in making this
Vecsei Miklós, Kassai Melinda, Capusan Andrea, Dávid
Judit, Gyuris Tamás, Sugár János, Peternák
Miklós, Török Tamás, Tillmann József
Attila, Krémer Balázs, Iványi Gábor,
Gurály Zoltán, Gáncs Andrea, Oran Mc Cuirc,
Kardos Sándor, Kincses Károly, Várnagy Tibor,
Sükösd Miklós, Körösiné Egyed
Orsolya, Papp Zoltán, Glósz Béla, Benedek Gáspár,
Gróf Ferenc, Lendvai Ádám, Révai Gábor,
Szebenyi Mariann, Lénárt Imre, Körösi Péter,
Nagy Gabriella, Láng Imola, Mentes Tamás, Keresztúri
Gábor, Tatár Attila, Sam Ainsley, Roger Palmer, David
Harding, Francis McKee, John Calcutt, Tímár Katalin,
Hecker Péter, Zalka Imre, Iványi Marcell, Polgár
Sándorné, Maria Bredican, Helen Bartlett, Szabó
Eszter Ágnes, Farkas Gabriella, Szövény Anikó,
Detvay Jenő, Hangyál Judit, Eln Ferenc, Stefanics István,
Thanks to Benedek Gáspár -
and other works.
Dominic Hislop / Erhardt Miklós - Project organizers
If you'd like to write to us or see more work by us, use the following
links web site: