Central Europeans reflect on life before the fall of the Berlin Wall
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Miklós Surányi

This was the easiest way to get back at the system

Budapest, Hungary, 2009
Hungarian English

Miklós Surányi, Photographer

During communism most everyone in Hungary had a weekend house. For more or less money, people made DIY houses with materials and furniture gathered from different places. These “different places” were mostly the workplaces. But, this wasn’t a deviation from the norm, because just about everybody stole something from the work place, even just his or her working time. This was the easiest way to get back at the system. One of the best examples of this is in the photograph that I took of a weekend house made from a broken bus with the shower in the cockpit. 

This temporary state has not changed. Still, there are a lot of weekend houses built like this throughout Hungary. That’s why I was thinking about making portraits of them. I am documenting something that is both going away and also still exists, and also making pictures of houses of the so called “new riches”, built in the Italian or Provencal style.

From the series Weekend Houses, Miklós Surányi

The series “Abandoned Toys” and “Macro” are about laziness. In the pictures you can often see the “result” of the work of the builders. They just leave their big machines and rubbish at the site at the end of the day. Just like children done playing with a toy and just abandoning it. I see this very often, since I am living in a district of Budapest where there is a big reconstruction all around us. And actually, in the city a lot of new houses and streets are being built.

From the series Macro, Miklós Surányi

The biggest change in photography, since the Berlin wall fell down, came through the Internet. You can see what is happening in other European countries, America or China. If you have an idea, you can easily check if it already exists in the world on the Internet. If it does, you can check how and with what kind of technique it was made. This has really changed the way of thinking for the younger generation of artists. There are many young, good fine-art photographers here. But the “official” photographic scene is always just pushing the great old Hungarian artists, like André Kertész, or Brassaï. There are no international exhibitions, even from the neighboring countries. It is a problem. The other problem is that there are no photo book editions here, at least not of young photographers.

This interview was in English
Photo: Self-portrait by Miklós Surányi

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