The man in the snail costume – a little review on the Photo Street Festival 2014

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Oooops! Was that….a snail??? Huge like a human? Did we have too many beers yesterday?

Yes, it was. Or more precisely: it was a man dressed as a snail. What the hell does that have to do with the Photo Street Festival we wanted to visit?

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To figure out, we had to enter the building of the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center, where we accidentally met the snail. Wearing clueless faces it didn’t take a long time to find someone who wanted to help and answer us all the questions we obviously had. Rebeka, was the name of the 26-year-old hungarian girl. As a member of the organizing team she could easily sum up the most important facts about the festival for us. It took place for the first time this year as a part of the big Contemporary Arts Festival in Budapest, which occurs twice a year. The idea behind the name “Photo Street Festival” and not Street Photo Festival is that the Nagymezö utca connects two important centers of photography and can therefore be called the “Photography Street“ of Budapest. The first one is the Capa Center, where we met Rebekka and the second one is the Hungarian House of Photography, the Mai Mano House, that exists for 120 years now.

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These two institutions contain new and iconically old collections of photography and during the four festival days you could enter every exhibition without any charges. To show that photography has taken a huge place in the art industry they offered a lot of different programmes for people of every age, for example a wall where people could put their own photographs on. The pictures on that wall were replaced every two hours so that you had a constantly changing exhibition with a lot of different but interesting photos and everyone could become an exhibitor. The snail costume was part of an activity where you could put different costumes on and take a photo in front of a backdrop. This was a must do for many visitors on the family day. After visiting the exhibition inside the Capa Center and also its “Over 18” area, (which was really “over 18”) we walked towards the next festival spot on the famous Photography Street. In front of the Mai Mano House there was again a tent on the street where people could take part in different photography activities. While visiting the normal exhibition in the building we suddenly met two couples who were dressed very strangely and looked as if they came from the 20’s. None of the visitors really understood what they were doing when they walked in slow motion through the exhibition, sometimes stopping and posing in different positions. A very old lady found pleasure in taking countless pictures of them. Others just observed the whole spectacle. No matter what the exact sense of that action should be, it was a nice entertainment factor, a good photo motif as well as a moving old picture from the 20’s and made the exhibition a bit more special on that day.

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Rebeka said that they hope to be able to host the festival every year and not necessarily as a part of the Cafe Budapest Festival. She was very happy about the good reviews they had on every single festival day. Their huge programme as a mix of professional exhibitions, performing artists, actors, showmen and stand-up comedians who tried to connect photography and humour as well as the chance for non-professionals to show their family shots is something new in Budapest and will hopefully establish itself as an annual event.

We are sure that most of the people would love that because everyone we asked about their opinion about the festival, young and old, professional or non-professional was very enthusiastic and had nothing to criticise. The exhibitors also enjoyed being part of the festival because of the great opportunity for them to reach potential buyers and publish their work, despite them not being the most famous people yet. Budapest might not be THE photography city at all, but these two exhibition centers and also the Photo Street Festival are definitely a visit worth and mean an important step to intensify the contact between the people and photography.

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