Keeping Freedom in Mind: Civil Resistance 2010-2023

Documentary exhibition about social movements

Date of opening: 19 October 2023, 18.00 – 20.00
Location: Práter 63 (1083 Budapest, Práter u. 63.)
Opening times: open until 7 December 2023, Tuesday 10-16, Wednesday and Thursday 12-18, and by appointment.

As part of its Creative Public Life project, launched in 2023 and aiming to support young people’s political activism, Space of Opportunity is organising an exhibition at Práter 63, entitled Keeping Freedom in Mind: Civil Resistance 2010-2023.
The exhibition highlights major civil movements organised against the anti-democratic measures of NER (National Co-operation Regime). NER is in its third term of government and has been in power for almost a decade and a half. The research-based documentary exhibition, accompanied by works of contemporary artists, covers this period, emphasising the importance of art as a field and as a means of resistance.

The exhibition also forms part of the Creative Public Life: How to Create Change in a Time of Democratic Crisis workshop-conference, taking place between 20-21 October 2023.
In the course of the Creative Public Life project, we are looking for answers to questions such as how art can inform democratic action. What is the relationship between creativity and political action? What does democratic action mean on an everyday level?

We believe that raising citizens who are aware of their rights and can actively stand up for their opinions is key to a well-functioning democracy. However, the concept of responsible and solidarity-oriented civil activity has been almost completely eliminated from public education; citizenship, as a school subject, does not cover this topic. Young people therefore need to acquire this capital from other sources, and we believe that the arts can have an important function in this. Through critical, artistic, informal learning and through participatory methods, the project aims to support secondary school students and young adults in becoming active, engaged citizens.

The project is timely, given that students all over Hungary have been standing up for their teachers protesting against their undignified pay and lack of social respect since the autumn of 2022. The unprecedented self-organization, prompted by solidarity with the teachers, has led to an exceptional moment of awareness in the lives of a huge number of students. We consider it important to support this energy and authenticity. We also find it essential that members of the younger generation see the movement they have been witnessing and participating in as part of a process, since there is practically no social group that would not have taken to the streets in protest against the dismantling of social institutions, against social injustice and political arrogance, since 2010.

The exhibition Keeping Freedom in Mind: Civil Resistance 2010-2023 gives an overview of the social resistance movements that have taken place during the thirteen years long history of the Orbán regime. We aim to address not only civic activists who have been tirelessly standing up for a great variety of causes but also members of the younger generation who have become active more recently. The focal point of the exhibition, which fills all the rooms of Práter 63, is a chronology of a selection of protests and presents the diversity and interconnections of the different movements with the help of a network diagram. The diagram can be updated and completed by anyone. Mass media and police databases, as well as data archived by activists and organisations were used to characterise and identify protest events and other actions (such as strikes, solidarity stands, forums), organising groups and citizens’ campaigns, in the studied period.

The material is complemented by a selection of works by contemporary artists – and the documentation of these – from the same period.

Curators: Dóra Hegyi, Balázs Horváth-Kertész

The exhibition was realized with the contrubution of: Judit Árva, Györgyi Francsics, Zselyke Nagy, Zsófia Puszt, Dóra Szabó

Artists: Lőrinc Borsos, Dávid Gutema, Viktória Monhor, Orczy Neighbours Project, Pneuma Szöv., Zsuzsi Simon

Protest documentation: Freedoc/Gabriella Csoszó (photo) and Ádám Csillag (video)

Photo: Unite For Contemporary Art (Ludwig Stairs, 2013)