I tried to write an entry yesterday, thinking that I'd remember more while things were fresh in my mind. What I failed to realize was that as tired as I was I couldn't even remember what day it was. Now that I've had a good nights sleep and have recharged a little, I think I might be able to speak a little about the trip, why I was there, what I saw, and not have my words clouded by a haze of exhaustion.
For those who didn't know, the main reason I went on this trip was that I had a piece in a show at PH21 Gallery in Budapest. This was the second show that I have been part of there, but the first time, and likely the only, that I was able to actually get away to be there. As much as I'd like to go to every show I'm in, thats not usually the case, but I can't think of a better excuse to go to a new place.
The gallery is small, but very well put together and deals specifically with photography. After walking in and looking at all the work in the show I was introduced to Krisztina Domjan, the gallery director, and Anita Spingar-Westerlund, the gallery assistant. They were both extremely welcoming and introduced me to some of the other artists who were in attendance. Most of the photographers who were there were from Hungary, but there was also one from Slovenia and another visiting from Montreal. Any nervousness that I had upon entering an unfamiliar place was immediately washed away as we all began to talk and get to know each other. After the opening was through, a large group of us continued on to a restaurant/bar to further socialize. I'd go on about the discussions that we had, but I'll just keep it short and say that it was refreshing and just as welcoming as one could ever want.
While at the opening, I was informed by Krisztina that the crowd was not as large as usual because there were multiple events going on that night due to the Budapest Photography Festival going on that weekend. I'd love to say that I was well aware of that before going on this adventure, but it was news to me. The up-side, though, was that there would possibly by more people flowing through the gallery over the weekend, and that there were more exhibits around the city that I could go see.
One of the exhibits I made a specific point to see was "Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich". The show was work by photographer Sandro Miller, and was an homage to multiple classic photographs and photographers. All works were recreations of well known photographs by some of the masters of photography. If you are curious about the title, every recreation featured Miller's friend, John Malkovich, as the subject of the photographs. Maybe because I was familiar with all the photographs that were recreated, but I couldn't help but laugh out loud at most of the images. The ones I didn't laugh at brought a smile to my face as I imagined myself seeing many of these for the first time... without Malkovich. If you are interested in seeing the images, you can find them here.
I could go on and on about details that I loved about Budapest. I had been to Europe twice before, but had never spent any time in a large city, and had never been to Eastern Europe. Both of these things allowed for some new experiences that I'll probably have to share at a later time. What it definitely allowed me, though, was to see everything in a fresh and unbiased way. Outside of knowing a little about the communist history of Hungary and the surrounding region, everything was new to me and offered a visual playground that I only got to see a sampling of.
Budapest has so much to offer. As I sit here briefly thinking over the entire trip, I'm beginning to realize there are things that I wish I had time to see. However, I can't express how amazing the sights that I did see were. I'm sure I will write again at some point about some of the sights, but I just wanted to put out this little bit to give you an idea of where I was and why. I'll end this, though, saying that if you ever have the chance to experience Budapest, don't pass it up!