Nothing else remains for you who enter, only hope!”

 

The view of the mine in Recsk where prisoners were forced to do heavy physical work with basic tools 10-12 hours a day in every season. The camp in Recsk „opened its gates” on the dawn of July 19, 1950. 1500 prisoners who were hauled here without a court decision were forced to work under minimal conditions of existence continuously in the stone mine in the camp created following the example of Soviet Gulag camps. As time passed and as the number of people in the camp increased the guards became more and more violent. They inhumanly chastised, tortured and starved the prisoners. The place already had five barracks by late autumn 1950. The camp had 1300-1700 prisoners at its height. When closing the mine in 1953 all prisoners released were forced to sign a confidentiality document confirming they would not tell anyone about the conditions in the camp.

 

 

 

 

 

An Infernal Play       ( 2016 - 2019 )

 

A few years ago I happened to find a prisoner’s diary which contained the memoirs of a political prisoner from the '50s. I started reading it and a deep and a dark world opened up for me which grabbd my attention instantly and made me realize how little and superficial my knowledge is about this period of the Hungarian history. The more I read about the world of prisons the more I connected it to a visual symbol system which I wanted to bring to life through the photography.

 

My goal was to create an archive which collects existing places, objects and witnesses of the criminal justice system of the Rákosi' dictatorship and the early Kádár period. I have identified the timeline to be examined from the opening of the first labor camps in 1945 to 1963, the amnesty. I visualized this dark and chaotic period in a light-toned, transparent and easy to understand way which is factual and was controlled by historians. But why was it important for me to start the work as soon as possible? Because this world is disappearing unnoticed and with its last old surviving witnesses and scenes and this is the last moment to record what happened in the past for the next generations. I'm sure it wont be possible to do this in 3-4 years. Being aware of the time constraints my project was speeded up significantly. Preparing the series needed lots of background work including phone calls, long interviews, emails and archive research. I used an analogue large format camera, which is a very slow method, but the quality and the resolution of the images gave me more security to be able to use them for archiving purposes.

 

In 2017 I started mapping and documenting former prisons and labor camps which created a strong basis for my project. This part of my work is about the darkest prisons, labor camps and the old survivors who spent years in these places. They still bear the wounds of the past on themselves which could never heal. I think these scenes will be holding the remembrance of the physical and mental suffering of thousands for a long time. In 2018 I added a new and essential part to my work done earlier. It was necessary for making the period more complete and easier to understand for myself. I wanted to make the characters who were involved in political crimes speak. Since those who were directly responsible already passed away, there wasn't other option for me just to meet to their children. I choose children whose parents were important figures of the regime but somehow they became the enemies of it from one day to another. Similarly to the average Hungarian people, they had to face tortures, interrogations, show trials, imprisonment, executions. Of course, these children are not responsible for the actions of their parents.

 

Regardless the fact that we view this as an already processed period of the past, Hungarian society still carries and passes on the burdens and negative reflexes of the past unconsciously. Facing the past as it was never happened. The most important reason for this is that there wasn't social support for naming and calling to account those who committed these crimes so most of them died peacefully in the 80s and the 90s. After the collapse of socialism, in the joy of freedom, people started going abroad, enterprise and forget, and consequently those who suffered through this regime never received proper moral or financial compensation. I strongly believe that the period I wanted to shed light on determined the present and the future of Hungarian society. The different layers and the finer changes within the 44 years of state socialism were mostly defined by these initial decades, Rákosi’s dictatorship.