New book: The Birth of Venus and Other Stories by Krisztina Erdei

A city is always a mosaic of sharply distinctive “social worlds,” or unique cultures, as Louis Wirth found upon organizing the urban sociology knowledge accumulated by the end of the 1930s. That is, one can only claim to know his or her own city if he or she is familiar with as many neighborhoods representing the various social worlds as possible. The history of the building complex standing on the corner of Illatos Street and Gubacsi Street, consisting of about 500 flats, goes all the way back to the housing market anomalies generated by World War I, but it actually started in 1937 and lasted until 2015, so it encompasses almost 100 years. The premises became known as the Dzsumbuj [the projects, or lit. the mess] already a few years after the construction was finished. All the similar housing projects used to be called like this, but somehow the Illatos Street building complex monopolized the name.

In 2005, Kinga Göncz, the minister of youth, family, social affairs and equal opportunities, Imre Ikvai-Szabó, the deputy mayor of Budapest, and Ferenc Gegesy, the mayor of the 9th district, signed a declaration of intent regarding the settlement of the Dzsumbuj’s situation. By this time, it was imperative to find some kind of a solution. The goal of the program they signed was to facilitate the social integration of the disadvantaged families living here and to reduce the stigmatization of the residents. According a contemporary report, “the Dzsumbuj, as a unique subculture, concentrates, preserves, and reproduces destitution.”

The media continuously reported on the protracted liquidation that took almost ten years. Based on the news, these last years were about the war between the squatters, the security personnel, the human rights activists, the employees of the local government, as well as the politicians, and the social workers. The Illatos Street 5/A building was demolished in 2009, the 5/B building in 2013, and the 5/C building in 2014. In order to refine the image suggested by the media, we carried out a joint research under the aegis of the A város peremén (On the Outskirts of the City) project with a small group of sociologists, anthropologists, and artists. The project aimed at contributing to the attenuation of the problems resulting from poverty and social inequality, with the help of interviews, photographs, and videos. The numerous personal stories have altered the homogenized image of the residents available until now, giving new accents to the earlier media narrative emphasizing deviation and poverty. The research of personal memories is not only important for resolving traumas, or for exploring the responsibility of the past in the evolution of today’s value system. It can also be an asset to a learning process that could aid future decisions. Thanks to receiving the Budapest Photography Grant, I could start working on exploring the situation of the residents who had moved out, and the environment in which they try to get by. In the images, we can see the different employment and health-related problems intertwined with various Budapest locations. At the same time, in the midst of the possibilities provided by the urban environment, I search for an answer to the challenges of the present based on the memories and experiences of individuals. For me, the project is about layers of social responsibility, about a process which facilitates the communication of people living in the same city, while it also approaches the solution to the problem, the approximation of the different interests via the toolset of arts, leaving the project open and maintaining a continuous reflective attitude.

This exhibition and book investigates the current situation of the former residents of the building complex that used to stand on the corner of Illatos Street and Gubacsi Street, from the days of moving out until today. It explores the ordinary, everyday life of a community already extinct.

Graphic design by ART-AND, Zsuzsi Medve

Text by Tünde Varga, Krisztina Erdei

Curated by Gabriella Csizek

Translation by Vera Bakonyi-Tánczos

Publishing by Orsolya Kőrösi, Robert capa Nonprofit Ltd.

Krisztina Erdei: The Birth of Venus and Other Stories

The Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center cordially invites you and your friends to the opening of the exhibition Krisztina Erdei: The Birth of Venus and Other Stories on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Opening remarks by Szilvi Német art historian

The exhibiton will be on view until 24 March, 2019.

Krisztina Erdei’s exhibition titled The Birth of Venus and Other Stories is the result of a one-year work process enabled by her winning of the Budapest Photography Grant 2017. The 2017 grant was launched by the Municipality of Budapest in cooperation with the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, reviving an earlier tradition – started in 2000 and going on for 11 years – of supporting an outstanding photographer every year in capturing Budapest’s views and life along the artist’s own selected themes in the framework of a one-year project.

Krisztina Erdei’s entry titled A Dzsumbuj hűlt helyén (The Emptiness Left Behind by the Dzsumbuj) explored the everyday life of the members of Dzsumbuj’s eliminated community after they had moved out. This project had antecedents – Erdei as a member of a group including sociologists, journalists, scholars, and artists made several interviews with the former occupants, and took pictures of the affected sites of the 11th district as part of the A város peremén (On the Outskirts of the City) initiative.

Hence this is a long-term project, aimed at providing insight to the problems arising from poverty and social inequality, as well as at improving the image of Dzsumbuj, and the slums in general, and reducing the associated negative preconceptions. It is also intended to reveal common aspects in the various lives and living spaces of the people concerned, providing a basis for better understanding. In the course of this work, the activities of the participants – including Krisztina Erdei’s – had a genuine impact on the participants’ lives, with all the risks involved.

The building complex called Dzsumbuj was located on the corner of the Illatos Street and the Gubacsi Street from 1920 up until 2015, providing living space and home for a community for almost one hundred years. After moving out, the families continued their lives in their various new environments, which were mainly apartments offered by the municipality. The exhibition tells the story of this period, turning the gallery premises into an installation space by the photographic material depicting the experiences gained together, among other things.

Krisztina Erdei belongs to the group of socially engaged and aware photographers, who know and believe that photography can be used for presenting the truth of reality and could be a tool in their efforts to make the world a better place. (Gabriella Csizek, curator)

Free admission
January 22, 2019 – March 24, 2019
Every day 8 am – 7 pm
Closed on public holidays.
Capa Center – 8F Gallery
Curator: Gabriella Csizek

Lining up

Presentation at Academy of Fine Art and Design Bratislava, Slovakia

 Utopia – prezentacia studentov Afrk na zimnom prieskume Vsvu

Srdecne pozyvame do atelieru 340 na prezentaciu studentov Atelieru fotografia, realita, konstrukcia – AFRK, pod vedenim doc. Mgr. art. Jane Hojstričovej, ArtD. a Mgr. art. Olji Triaška Stefanović, ArtD.

Dec 14 at 9 AM – Dec 16 at 6 PM
Drotárska cesta 44, Bratislava

More details:

Krisztina Erdei: Lining up / Zoradenie

The series recall certain stories of the second part of the 19th century through collective remembrance in the Central European region. There are two different ways of remembering this time, one is a re-enactment and the other is an exhibition. Artistic research is an important tool to share hidden stories and to discover less known phases of history to place them next to the details of our big history.


On a meadow near Bratislava, two 19th-century superpowers Austria and Prussia fought for victory in the Battle of Lamač. Keeping the memory alive there is a reason for historical re-enactment every year. Each year, the event commemorates the final battle of the Austro-Prussian War that took place here on 22 July 1866. The re-enactment starts with the parade of soldiers in period uniforms along the streets of Lamač.


There are a lot of memories exhibited about women working as telephone operators in the Post Museum of Budapest. The Geneva Congress, held in Switzerland from September 3 to 8, 1866. declared first time that women can work as professionals. The career of a telephone operator was one of the few technically oriented jobs available to women from the end of 19th century. In the early days of telephony companies used manual telephone switchboards and switchboard operators connected calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into the appropriate jacks. To connect people – this is what women did as a telephone operators and I would like to follow them in a symbolic way with my series.

The Birth of Venus and Other Stories_ Coming soon

A city is always a mosaic of sharply distinctive “social worlds,” or unique cultures, as Louis Wirth found upon organizing the urban sociology knowledge accumulated by the end of the 1930s. That is, one can only claim to know his or her own city if he or she is familiar with as many neighbourhoods representing the various social worlds as possible.

Krisztina Erdei: The Birth of Venus, 2017–2018, Images from a music video

I met Venus during the A város peremén (On the Outskirts of the City) research project. In the past one year, several things happened to her that are difficult for me to process. Over the course of a few months, she lost her mother, and then her patron and her brother. She received a judicial order about her forced eviction from her new accommodation where she had moved after the Dzsumbuj. She tried she steadily looked for a job to escape financial insecurity. I helped Venus find the addresses for the job interviews with Google Maps, sending her the routes to each one. After almost a year, I realized that I had sent her almost fifty locations for auditions and job trials. There were places where she would show up only for the interview, and other places where she worked a few days or weeks. It is very complicated and rather intangible why she always needs to find a new place, why she needs to be born again and again. This is when I decided that I would visit all these diverse Budapest locations connected with Venus’s search for a job, for getting an opportunity to fit in, with a seashell inspired by Botticelli, under the aegis of the Budapest Photography Grant. The seashell was made out of old newspapers, pasteboard, resembling the A város Peremén (On the Outskirts of the City) project, which intended to refine the – mainly media-suggested – image of the Dzsumbuj. The series flashes images of the burdensome one year of Venus’s life, and the locations of her search for a job, parallel to each other. “Never give up!” This was the message Venus herself saw in this project when I told her about it. And what I saw behind the story was the effort, which somehow always gets derailed due to the external expectations requiring a continuance.

Krisztina Erdei: The Birth of Venus, 2017–2018, Images from a music video


We were planning to prepare the photographs of the locations and the related documentary videos together, possibly as the basis for a music video of a future song of hers. After all, Venus only showed up on one occasion of the many, so the photographs you can see here present the scenes of a music video created for a silent song that was never recorded.

Krisztina Erdei: Grinder, 2018. 


Stúdió ’18 – Szalon / A jövőt végképp eltörölni

A jövőt végképp eltörölni

Az FKSE éves kiállítása a szervezet 60. évfordulóján
2018. szeptember 14. – október 5.

Magyar Képzőművészeti Egyetem, Barcsay Terem (1062 Budapest, Andrássy út 69–71.)

MEGNYITÓ: 2018. SZEPTEMBER 13. (csütörtök), 18:00


A Fiatal Képzőművészek Stúdiója Egyesület (FKSE) tagjai által létrehozott kiállítás a Stúdió rendszerváltás utáni, már egyesületi formához köthető periódusát vizsgálja. Az esemény apropóját egyrészt a Stúdió fennállásának 60. évfordulója, másrészt a rendszerváltás óta erősödő anyagi, strukturális és öndefiníciós válsága adja.

A 2018-ban, újra reprezentatív helyszínen megrendezett éves kiállítás egyik vállalása, hogy megmutassa, az elmúlt évtizedekben milyen célok formálták, milyen együttműködések és fordulatok gazdagították, vagy éppen csorbították az FKSE közösségének életét. A kiállítás és az eseménysorozat az egyesület tagságát aktivizáló, közös gondolkodási folyamat eredményeként valósul meg. A szalon koncepcióját, illetve az események fókuszait a következő kulcsfogalmak határozták meg: az érdekképviselet és a közösség viszonya, az együttműködés, a szakmai önszerveződés sajátosságai, a függés versus függetlenség kérdése és az önkéntesség és önkizsákmányolás fogalma. A nyár elején 35 fővel (junior és senior tagokkal) kezdtük meg a közös koncepció kialakítását.

Közös olvasmányélményeink és a találkozók tanulságaiból inspirálódva döntöttünk a zsűrizetlen szalon mint kiállítási forma mellett; egyrészt a tagság széleskörű mobilizálása érdekében, másrészt a minket körülvevő kultúrpolitikai környezetre reagálva. A kiállítás célja, hogy a Stúdió, vagyis mi, feltegyük magunknak a hogyantovább kérdését. Folytassuk?