591 Exhibition - Lenke Szilágyi

Moscow 1991

Valaam island, Lake Ladoga

Post-Soviet journeys 1990-2001 ( excerpts from a small diary )
…Yevgenija Mojsejevna says, that there were only three years during her lifetime (1924-1927) when the shops had a sufficient amount of products for sale. But at that time everything was so expensive, so you could not buy anything for money. She spent much of her everyday life trying to find bread and some other things to buy or she waited in endless queues. She is now 83 years old…

…We left Volgograd at 8 a.m. The passengers were asked from a voice on the radio to get up on the deck to have a last farewell look at the heroic city. There was a program to celebrate the memory of the battle of Stalingrad. It was also announced, that bread shouldn’t be wasted for the seagulls…

Koktebel 1993

…A Lenin statue was erected in Odessa, but it was badly built, and suddenly its head fell off. The sculptors were ordered to make a new head, but they didn’t look at the original sculpture, so it turned out at the unveiling, that Lenin had two hats: one on his head and one in his hand….

…This guy, called Igor tried to get a matriculation for Music Academy eight times. He always got the highest marks, he even got a letter congratulating him and informing him that he had been approved. A few days later the usual phone call arrived, saying that he cannot be accepted, because he had been singing with the church choir…

Sukhumi 1991

…At the airport the usual Soviet problems were going on, there are no seats available on the plane until the last moment, then suddenly there are, but by that time there isn’t time to count by dollars, so for a charge of three dollars I can get my ticket paying in rubels and we can fly for Simferopol…

The whole airport is a mess. The adults are nervous, pushing their enormous baggage, the children are crying, holding cats, dogs, parrots, that contribute to the noise. Our tickets were booked by the Ukrainian airline, but there was a fight and it’s impossible to speak to anyone. The Russians don’t know anything about our bookings, because their computers aren’t connected to the Ukrainian ones. Petja threatens with an international scandal. They promise to do something. In the end the plane is waiting only for us, and of course there are a lot of empty seats …. All photos and text © Lenke Szilágyi
Translated by Ági Vedres

Since Easter is approaching this week's vernissage is held today and not as usual on Saturday or Sunday. I am glad to have found the photography of Lenke Szilágyi. It was Emese Altnöder who recommended a link where I suddenly stumbled upon some great images called Ex-Soviet.

After contacting Lenke, I soon realized that these photos were part of a major project depicting the everyday life and sentiments of people in post-Soviet during the 1990s. It is a remarkable work and I would love to see it as a photo book. Thank you Lenke for your cooperation in making this online exhibit. It is a treausre to me. My sincere thanks to Ági and Emese as well. - Mr Urbano


Lenke Szilágyi
Born: 1959
Lives in: Budapest
Latest exhibition: at present: www.memoart.eu
Inspiration (photographers): J. Koudelka, H.C. Bresson, Diane Arbus, August Sander, Papp Gergely
Inspiration (other): Edward Hopper, Farkas István, René Magritte's photos, R.W. Fassbinder's films
Film, digital or both: both


Mikael said…
Amazing story and even more amazing photos, truly a treasure to cherish!
Thanks for sharing it with us!
Altnőder Emese said…
Ó, hát gratulálok, hogy a kapcsolat létrejött végre és örülök!!! :)
Paolo Saccheri said…
This is a wonderful travel I do with your photos, Lenke, extending the one I'm doing right now with another book of a Soviet line travel from White Sea to Black Sea!

Your photos really deserve a photo book.
Vedres Ági said…
Finally, I'm really happy to see Lenke's photos together and her diary, it's good to help and know each other in 591. Grat for Lenke. Thanks for Ulf, Emese.
br said…
!!!! great work....thank you to the people who made this possible..and to Lenke, of course!
cafe selavy said…
Great stories. Great photos.
Oskarp Mask said…
Thank you for sharing this absolutely wonderful historical document of our recent european history!
affe johansson said…
Realy top class photography and the storie makes it even better.
frgcs zszs brr said…
You can find many interesting photoes of Lenke on my blog illustrating parts of short stories of the antologies I have edited.


the original photoes for the antologies covers were also done by her...
Szilágyi Lenke said…
Thanks for the exhibition, translate and other help, and listen of visitors!