Starting from the summer of 2017, Szabihíd (Bridge of Freedom) has been transformed into a common space for a few weekends, where city dwellers and visitors find a little holiday in the heart of the bustling capital. Szabihíd is an urban, public space developing and last but not least artistic experiment about the freedom of arts, sports and community programs. In addition, the series of events anticipates alternative uses of urban public space, brings people closer to the city and the river, builds community(s), and enables the presence of sustainable, democratic, co-created spaces in the city. The bridge is common, space is common, freedom is common. The Szabihíd project is a joint event of the Valyo – City and River Association and Pro Progressione.
Between 2011 and 2017, Valyo has already organized a number of actions during which they have taken possession of areas closed off from traffic. The association has organized picnics and concerts, and took over public spaces along the Danube during construction works and sporting events as well as floods. Due to a tramline’s reconstruction works, the Szabadság híd (Liberty Bridge) had been closed off from traffic for a month in the summer of 2016. Since it is located in a relatively low-traffic and pretty picturesque area, the emblematic city landmark was instantly inhabited by pedestrians, thus begun a continuous picnic over the river. In 2017, thanks to Valyo’s guerrilla media campaign, the Szabadság híd became Bridge of Freedom again for a few weekends, and by then Pro Progressione had already joined the program by inviting site-specific programs such as Ziggurat Project’s Jellyfish, the C.iC – earthborn performance, or an unusual evening of the Willany Leo Company. This marked the beginning of the experimental ’bridge-liberation’: in this democratic public space, members of all classes of society and of every age group have turned up.
The Szabihíd Project continued in 2018 as well. Now it became a routine for city-dwellers to take over the bridge. It became natural to use the bridge as a public space. People enjoyed the freedom of Szabihíd lounging in the hammocks both provided by Valyo and brought by themselves. They organized sporting events, yoga classes, parties, and thanks to Pro Progressione, more and more unique and special art events have taken place on the bridge. The Szabihíd project became part of Budapest.
In 2019, Szabihíd closed its most successful year to date. The program series attracted about 40,000 visitors to the Liberty Bridge over the 4 weekends of July. In addition to bottom-up initiatives and self-organizing programs, the PP has been developed through a number of specific cultural and community programs:
Theatre performances, puppet shows and dance performances: Y Csoport – Ledpuppets: The Smallest Ocean, Willany Leó, Dani Varró and his contemporaries (KIMI performance), Ricotta – puppet tale about the friendship – by Napsugár Trömböczky, Folk Tales – by Réka Bölöni, Inspirál Cirkusz Jam, Acroyoga Jam.
Community programs: Holy Mass, Community Breakfast, First Hand About Homlessness – Situational Game, First Hand About Homlessness – Living Library, Improvisation Session with Itt és Most Társulat, Mystery on the Brigde – theatre adventure game.
Due to its all-arts nature, Szabihíd provides space for artists from various fields of art, from well-known performers to emerging artists and amateur groups. In Szabihíd, unlike the conception of art based exclusively on elite basis, great emphasis is placed on high-quality, free art accessible to all, regardless of social and economic background.
Also thanks to Réka Orsolya Bogdán and Zsuzsanna Balogh for organizing the programme in 2019, and Benjámin Péter who was manager of the project until 2018 at PP.
The project is supported by National Cultural Fund of Hungary.
Photo: László Spengler
Sára Pallag, Réka Orsolya Bogdán