My work Color TV, Queen Beds,
Exotik Dreams is about facing our own cultural heritage—through the world
of Hungarian motels built during the regime change— and my personal self-definition.
Around 1989, the
Hungarian nation experienced enormous political, economic and social change
and, as a result, the whole nation experienced being in an in-between space, a
liminal space: they had to grow up to handle problems never lived through
before their generation. People experienced euphoria and excitement alongside
fear and anxiety at the same time, as they did not know what the future might
hold. Their escapism materialized as exotic dreams about Western trends,
wealth, life and opportunities they might encounter. These special motels
that I photographed genuinely preserve the atmosphere of the transformation
from socialism into a democratic states’ unique era.
During the last year, something began to change
in my life. I started to feel different, uncertain about my future, questioning
things I was confident in before. I felt as if I lost the ground I stood on and
was stuck between two doors—I did not know how to exit. Unexpectedly, I started
to feel a strong relation and connection to those motels which I have been
collecting and documenting for years. Their history and my uprootedness
resonated: hopefulness and fearfulness was within me and the rooms at the same
The strong Eastern European tacky style of these
places made me feel at home. Their cheap and DIY solutions, all the colors,
materials and patterns—their desire to achieve a modern and luxurious
look—reminded me of my roots, my childhood, all my weaknesses and strengths.
The hotels also represented our traditions and visual culture. It made me think
how the ‘American Dream’ is never going to happen, and how I will never be a
Western girl with natural confidence. On the other hand, I have also realized
the beauty in our collective melancholy, in our unbroken ingenuity, in our
bitter humor. How can all the despised and tacky things become so loveable? How
can we face them and forge strength out of them?
These special motels, which reflect the regime
change, helped me deal with emotions and situations I never felt before, and
they created the mental space I needed in order to understand a little bit
better the times we live in; making this project was about relearning,
redefining and accepting where we as people come from and where we are heading.