11.10- 22.10


Venue: The headquarters of the Union of Steel and Metalworkers of Hungary (Vasas)
1086 Budapest, Magdolna u. 5.

The project entitled "Bookfriendship" deals with the heritage of the regional and Hungarian working class culture and its role in the history of organized labor movements. The title of the project was borrowed from Ervin Szabó’s article, titled A Few Words on the Hungarian Socialist Bookfriendship (1916), in which Szabó, who was also the founder of the public library system of Budapest, collected all of the extant Hungarian-language literature of the Left. He argues that the enlightenment/cultivation of the working class is an important means within its egalitarian struggles.

The project will consist of a historical and artistic exhibition, booklets and programmes, which will highlight and examine certain elements of the regional and local culture and history of the struggles of organized labor, which are no longer – or perhaps never have been – part of the Hungarian national cultural canon, contemporary art and political discourse, only of the largely invisible and forgotten heritage of the Hungarian working class and Progressive intellectual movements. The exhibition and the booklets will serve as a basis – building on the legacy of worker reading- and learning-initiatives – for our bookfriendship, in which we discuss the relevance of these stories, artworks and texts in contemporary egalitarian discourses and struggles together with the audience.

During its history, the Vasas Headquarter of Magdolna Street was a significant place not simply for the organized labour but for Progressive culture as well: Communist artists such as Hilda Gobbi and Tamás Major held theatrical performances for workers during World War II, and the Group of Socialist Artists’ organized an exhibition titled Freedom and People in 1942, which was banned shortly after its opening. Furthermore Vasas – with the assistance of Gábor Sztehlo and the Lutheran Church – provided a temporary shelter for women and child refugees in 1944.

Supported by the Union of Steel and Metalworkers of Hungary (Vasas)