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Exhibition: The Danube – Through the Flow of Time


duna kiállítás borítóképuntil 30 October 2020


We often compare the river to time: although we see the river, the water in it is in constant change; we experience the present, but the moments are constantly slipping away, slipping through our fingers. Only a photo is able to freeze to infinity both time and water. 

I have plenty of pictures of the Danube in my head, captured by my brain through my retina: I kayaked at Szigetmonostor with my brother, washed my grandmother's carpets by the dam in Paks, ate fish soup while staring at the Statue of Liberty in Budapest and swam with my nephews at the Sand Isle of Göd. No photos were taken of these occasions, but instead of these photos, by turning the pages on Fortepan - the family photo album of all of us - never-before-seen, yet familiar landscapes come to life, with unknown, yet friendly faces and situations. 

Fortepan – a photo archive collecting pictures taken before 1990 – was founded in 2010 starting with 5.000 photos. Ten years later the number of its collection has reached 130.000 and it is constantly growing. 

Any image can be downloaded in high resolution by all of us from the volunteer-work based digital archive and can be used for any purpose if giving credit to the source. A true community wellhead, from the community, for the community. 

The Fortepan archive carries on the name of the once most popular negative raw material in Hungary. Most of their images were certainly made on this negative. From 1932 to 2007 photography raw materials were produced 30 km north of Budapest, in Vác. In the production process, they used the water of the Danube, thus these photos are connected to the Danube in several ways

How many litres of water have flowed down the Danube in the millions of years since its formation? How much did this river mean to the people of different generations who lived here and, of course, to the fauna and flora? It meant drinking water, boating, fishing, sports, hydropower, gold laundering as well as trade, wars, tourism, but above all it meant life, always closely linked to water. 

Ports, shipyards, cottages, bridges, beaches, dams, boathouses line up throughout the 2.850 kilometres of river side, crossing ten countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine) and four capitals (Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade) connecting Central and Eastern Europe from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. 

When I was preparing to swim across the Danube, I tried to assess the extent of the task, so I found the data: the water flow of the Danube at Budapest is 2350 m³ / s. This data did not say much until I swam in the middle of the river. Despite all my efforts to overcome the stream I came out of the river half a kilometre below my starting point as an exhausted dog. The passing time engulfs us as well with similar overwhelming force, leaving us only these moments, captured from the flow of time to polish our minds by looking at our shared photos.


Curator: István VIRÁGVÖLGYI


Printing and framing: Pigmenta Art Print Lab 

The organizers of the exhibition would like to thank Anita Bezzeg for her help.

The Danube – Through the Flow of Time traveling exhibition ordered by the Hungarian Institute Istanbul was realized within the framework of the EU-Turkish Intercultural Dialogue competition.


The exhibition is available from 16 October 2020 to 30 October 2020 in the Hungarian Cultural Intitute Brussels. 


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