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Raw beauty in Budapest

The most striking difference between the MyBudapest exhibition, which opened last night, and MyLondon, is the content: the photographers show their lives in a personal way. One hundred one-time-use cameras were given to the participants and they had around five days to photograph their Budapest in July.

Sleeping rough as a homeless person in Hungary is officially illegal, so it might have fuelled their decisions in what they wanted to photograph. There are portraits of participants, their friends, where they cook and clean and even bed down for the night outside. One photographer decided to highlight the difficulty of getting around the city in a wheelchair. The MyBudapest project was set up in partnership with Café Art but run locally by Bernadett Fekete and a very active network of volunteers from the established Budapest Bike Maffia (BBM). Every Monday and Thursday evening BBM meet up in a pub and make sandwiches and then cycle around delivering them to people sleeping rough. In May Fujifilm Hungary came on board, discounting the cameras and offering to print the photographs and the exhibition. How is it the Budapest exhibition different to London? There are more photos for a start – they decided to choose 62, as opposed to 20. The exhibition allows them to explore subjects in more detail, with several sets of three or four photos chosen to tell a story. The photos highlight the issue of homelessness more than the London project. This could be because of the background of the participants in London: many of the people picking up a camera there have already been rehoused, either in a hostel or a flat, but are still accessing the services of homelessness sector charities (this year about 25% of the London calendar photographers and subjects of the photos are sleeping rough). The goal of the project in London is as much to prevent people becoming homeless again by empowering them through art and photography as it is helping them get off the streets. The calendar produced is not recognisably by people affected by homelessness on first glance. It’s more of a subtle way of getting the message of homelessness across to the people who buy it: everyone can relate to a beautiful photograph, and if they read the stories of homelessness every month and it opens their minds, then we have done our job. In Hungary, because it’s illegal, the issue of homelessness seems more acute and because of that is possibly a reason the MyBudapest exhibition is so powerful in its content. The MyBudapest 2017 calendar will be produced in October and we hope it reflects the passion for justice, the fight for the rights of homeless people, that is evident in the exhibition.

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