Hans-Christian Schink Budapest . Lenin still stands in Budapest . summer 1987

Budapest . Lenin still stands in Budapest . summer 1987
Budapest . Lenin still stands in Budapest . summer 1987 Budapest . Lenin still stands in Budapest Budapest . Lenin still stands in Budapest

In the semester break of 1987, following my first year at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, I spent a week in Budapest with my camera. In the second year of my studies I compiled the pictures taken there into a book draft, adding a brief foreword:

Six days in Budapest. As was the case everywhere, my interest was primarily what was happening on the street. For me, what makes this city so fascinating is the coincidental constellations, not unusual in themselves, yet suddenly paradoxical when captured.

My relationship with Budapest remains an ambivalent one, however. I always find it difficult to look behind the facade, background knowledge is required. Daily life is communicated in intimations alone, six days are not long to find out how people live in Budapest. What is striking is the general business, it is not easy to find areas of tranquillity, even in places where eternal rest should prevail the city is still present as a wall of sound.

Perhaps something has been lost here of the natural nonchalance which other cities present. Budapest without tourists is difficult for me to imagine, the city lives from them and, perhaps excessively, through them. This brings a degree of cosmopolitanism, yet that, too, has its price. The attractiveness is a conscious selling point. The eye for one’s own identity is indulged where it makes a profit. It is certainly not only glorified by the numerous buyers of original Hungarian folk art. City culture is modern where the need dictates. Openness to international trends is the order of the day. McDonald’s enters via the back door that Arnold Schwarzenegger has effortlessly opened. Lenin still stands in Budapest.

Long planned in advance, on 14 October 1989 I returned to Budapest, in spite of all of the events of the preceding days. On the evening of 16 October the ZDF was not only reporting the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig, but also the dismantling of the Lenin memorial in Budapest. In the following days I repeated my pictures of 1987.