It was great to be at the ‘Contemporary art − Shaking up and energising communities’ by Hajnalka Somogyi and Timea Junghaus and I’m very sorry for those who missed an important session on the opening day of EFC Annual AGA Conference.
Off Biennale Budapest and European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC) were amazing hosts in discussing the role of the contemporary art in their work in Budapest and Berlin respectively – and how they shake up and energize various important communities and societies where they operate.
What a pleasure to listen to Hajnalka Somogyi and Timea Junghaus and their fight to use the magic of art in their struggle for equality, honesty, and justice in uniting and addressing the power of art to the communities across Europe. It is just a pure fact that Off Biennale happens in Budapest, a country with strong illiberal democracy on the rise but it is a pan-European cultural endeavour in every meaning of its artistic freedom and courageous work.
It is the biggest international and civil independent art initiative in Hungary based purely on the grassroots basis. ERIAC, on the other hand, a new European baby (as a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and Open Society Foundations and the Roma Leaders’ Initiative) located in Berlin represents an amazing hub to increase the self-esteem of Roma across Europe and to work on decreasing every negative prejudice of the majority population towards the Roma.
Both, Off Biennale and ERIAC are superb examples of creativity, internationalism, communication beyond borders from illiberal democracies that are flooding Europe.
It was such a delight to listen to those two wonderful and multi-talented women (both coming from Hungary! And thanks Maribel for moderating the session) and to learn what they do and how they reach out through contemporary art (and beyond) in connecting the citizens and uniting communities in today’s hard and tough times of increasingly problematic Europe!
Beka Vuco is Regional Director of Open Society Foundations