[performative memorial]

with Tímea Török 

Sidewalk - 1st Budapest Biennale of Contemporary Public Art

Habitual Residence was a performative memorial and community theatre piece showcased within the programme of Sidewalk Biennale at the location of the so-called “ragged revolution” of 1989. Mere days after the collapse of the Soviet regime, people experiencing homelessness staged a sit-in to protest for housing rights in the underpass of Blaha Lujza Square. The solidarity that flowed towards their resistance gave way for establishing the basis of the care system in place today.

In the ephemeral memorial by Kristóf Kelemen and Tímea Török, viewers were able to experience the sit-in through a reenactment. They were seated on an area covered with artificial grass on pillows that read the names of the protesters of ‘89 (these pillows were later donated to an NGO fighting for housing rights). The event was designed in a way that allowed for participants not only to evoke this historical scene, but to actively connect with it as well. Several social workers from housing associations, people experiencing homelessness, and activists who were involved in the creative process shared stories during the performance that were similar to the acts of solidarity in ‘89. The audience was encouraged to share anecdotes of their own, too. The creative process also included a backcasting workshop about envisioning an ideal future, and the performance was concluded by that forecasted vision being read aloud to the audience. (The text was also published in a magazine edited by people experiencing homelessness, that they sell on the streets themselves). Habitual Residence aimed to draw attention to the fact that although apathy and exclusion are aspects of Hungarian society that are commonly zoned in on, a strong sense of solidarity and willingness to help is just as present – and how shedding light on these positive practices in our communities can bring us closer to habitualising them.

The artists partnered with various housing associations throughout the creation of the performance, and collected donations for them during the event. The date of the closing event was aligned with the largest annual housing demonstration in Hungary: the Housing March.

Gyula Balog
Mária Fazekas
Péter Győri
Rubina Karlócai
Natália Kiss 
Iván Mucsy
Panni Puskás
as well as Kristóf Kelemen and Tímea Török

In collaboration with:
Szikra Movement
Utcáról Lakásba Egyesület (“From Street to Home Association”)
Utcajogász Egyesület (”Streetlawyer Association”)
Menhely Alapítvány (”Shelter Foundation”)

Backcasting future-scoping: Alexandra Köves, Judit Gáspár

Special thanks: Péter Márton, Péter Mátyássy, Máriusz Györkös, Vera Kovács, Jutka Lakatosné, Auróra

The underpass of Blaha Lujza Square

13.10.2023. 18:00
14.10.2023. 16:00
15.10.2023. 18:00

The project was realised within the framework of the Sidewalk - 1st Budapest Biennale of Contemporary Public Art as part of the Budapest 150 event series by the Budapest Gallery, and with the support of the Municipality of Budapest.

Photos: Gabriella Csoszó / BTM Budapest Galéria