Proprogressione Bethlentériszínház

Artists Selected – DemArt Project for the Seventh District of Budapest

3 shortlisted projects selected by the DemArt curatorial team

The International Institute of Community Commissioned Art (IICCA) was co-founded by Bethlen Theater (Bethlen) / Pro Progressione (HU), Art Transparent (PL), and New Theater Institute of Latvia (LV) as part of the DemArt project. Its goal is to democratize art funding and commissioning practices in local municipalities and other cultural organizations, as well as empower local communities to support their cultural needs.

As part of the DemArt project, the local curatorial team has selected three shortlisted applications from a pool of excellent entries. The decision was challenging due to the diversity, excitement, and variety of the submissions. The curators made their selection based on DemArt principles and criteria:

  • The project has a lasting impact on the local community
  • It addresses a local issue / is relevant to the local community / involves the local community
  • It is located in a public space or is easily accessible to the community

The three local curators involved in the DemArt project sought artists and artist groups willing to contribute to the community of Budapest’s 7th district by revealing the hidden stories of its residents and creating site-specific, locally relevant artworks.

In the first round of the project, the curators selected three artists who will each receive a gross grant of €1,000 to carry out an artist-in-residence programme in Budapest’s 7th district. During the two-month residency, the creators will develop a prototype or model to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed project. At the end of the residency, they will present their prototype at a public event in the district, which will be open to the residents.

The curators of the project are: Dorottya Ács, Dominika Gergő, Júda Jelinek.

3 short-listed projects

Metrum Ensemble: Musical Walls

Metrum Ensemble is a prominent player in the Hungarian music scene. Since its debut in 2012, the ensemble has been realizing its artistic vision with a distinctive and consistent work ethic.

Their motto is playfulness and responsibility.

Under the Demart project, they aim to explore the musical past and present of the 7th district. Its diversity is well-known. The project aims to make various cultural traditions accessible to the public, including Jewish traditions, cabarets, gypsy and salon music in the boulevard cafes, workers’ choirs in Csikágó, church music, and concerts in the party district.

The district’s rich heritage will be reinforced through public music and visual installations. The music will be available online via QR codes and will be incorporated into public artworks.

All stages of the project will be developed in collaboration with appropriate professionals; reporters, composers, performers, craftsmen, web designers, music historians, technicians and authors will all be involved in the creation process. To ensure a long-term impact, they also want to work with local history walk organizers to bring the project’s results to a wider audience.

The MusicalWalls project will be realized in the spirit of working in harmony between individual and community efforts.

Metrum Ensemble En

* metrum-in-rumbach/ Photo Credit: Balázs Mohai

Szabó Kristóf – KristofLab: Cross-section of Erzsébetváros

During the artistic process, Kristóf Szabó broke down the territory of the 7th district into 7 forms, then created an abstract spatial body from them. Metaphorically referring to memory, heritage, viewing the past from afar, it’s difficult to reconstruct from the details, similarly, when observing the abstract form, we don’t see the original starting point, only the present.

In another way, he deals with history; the images stretched within the object are photos from Fortepan, reflecting the memories of private individuals. Each one is part of a forgotten story, the reinterpreted fragmented “flawed digital” image similarly refers to memory and heritage, drawing attention to the district’s past.

Szabó Kristóf2 En

Personal stories emerge through images belonging to people of the past. From the establishment of the district to the notable magnificent buildings, to the dreadful memories of war. The Dohány Street Synagogue, the tenement houses of “Csikágó”, the impressive building of the New York Café, all carry the splendid and sad memories left to us through the district’s past and its citizens.

Statue or monument? Both at once. The final piece is a space capable of accommodating multiple people, enriching the residents and visitors of the 7th district.

Szabó Kristóf was born in Győr in 1988. Since 2016, he has consciously used the term KristofLab, referring to interdisciplinary and media art activities as a kind of brand. As he often works in teams or creates joint works with other artists, he experiments with the permeability of boundaries between artistic genres. He obtained his degree in graphic arts (2012) and later in fine arts teaching (2013) from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. In 2011, he studied in Dresden with an Erasmus scholarship (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden). Between 2019 and 2020, he participated in the Budapest Art Mentor program, which provides training to fill gaps in Hungary’s education system. With the Ziggurat Project, experimenting with various interdisciplinary collaborations, he regularly worked until 2023, mainly in experimental performances from Norway to the V4 countries. His visual art, mixed media, video installations, and paintings have been exhibited in the Műcsarnok and the Godot Gallery, both in the countryside and in the capital.

Szabó Kristóf En

* Photo Credit: Orsi Egressy

Dorottya Márton: Editorial messages

She is currently developing a community film, with 7th district women of varying ages and different economic and ethnic backgrounds. She asks the participants to read and react to the letters sent to the editors of Hungary’s longest-running women’s magazine, Nők Lapja, selected from the period between 1950 to 1989- Hungary’s communist era.

These letters often present deeply personal stories, in which the letter writers ask for advice on parenting, relationships, or about navigating their womanhood. The film wants to establish a subsequent dialogue between women’s voices formulated under the censorship of communism and the diverse urban communities of Budapest’s 7th district. How has the position of women changed since then and what does this say about our present? Can women from different backgrounds identify with the problems of a 1950s widow? Can they understand the dating struggles of a 1980s secretary? During the film, it slowly becomes clear that the current characters did not write these letters and are rather, recreating them. The project hopes to play with ambivalence: Women’s struggles seem to be the same, even 50 years later.

The film is also a visual love letter addressed to the 7th district. In addition to the images of the characters talking to the camera, we see decadent, once upper-class mansions, traces of bullets from 1956 in walls, plants in the stairwell, the mosaics of Peterfy hospital.

“I am convinced that in Eastern Europe, history is a constant, almost active part of our environment, we don’t even notice it, but this is what makes the district palpably special.”

Dorottya Márton has recently completed a master’s degree in Documentary Filmmaking (DokMA) at the University of Theatre and Film Arts. Dorottya’s student films have been screened at the Zsigmond Vilmos Film Festival (ZSIFF), the National Independent Film Festival (MAFSZ), and the Fresh Meat International Short Film Festival. She often works as a one-man crew, shooting and sitting in front of the camera, blurring the line between documentary and experimental film. Her work incorporates abstract and diverse elements, such as mobile recording, photography, and home video. Dorottya is currently developing her first feature film and working on a photographic project called Ecstasy – alongside the DemArt residency.

More information about the project:

Márton Dorottya En