While thousands of demonstrators get ready for their protest against Hungarian prime minister Victor Orbán on Kossuth Square, a couple of blocs further in Budapest the I’m So Angry (I Made a Sign) Pop-up Museum is opening up. Exactly sixty years ago the Hungarian Revolution broke out here and this weekend our new exposition on protest and revolt in Europe opens for the first time. Hundreds of people visit the exhibition, dozens participate in one of the workshops and more than hundred people make their own protest sign and show it to the world in the videobooth.
It is October 23th of 2016, a day full of meaning in Hungary. It’s commemoration day, there are hanging flags with the symbolic hole in it everywhere and a huge stage is built in front of the majestic Parliament Building alongside the river Danube. A couple of thousands demonstrators with small whistles try to reach the square where prime minister Victor Orbán will give his speech to remember the revolution of 1956 that was violently brought down by Soviet tanks. Demonstrators blow fanatically on their whistles to show their discontent with Orbán’s authoritarian style and the fact that opposition newspaper Népszabadság was closed down two weeks earlier.
A couple of blocs further, the I’m So Angry Museum is being openend, not coincidently this weekend in this city. It seems fitting to open up an exhibition about protest and revolt for the first time here and in this turbulent times in Hungary. In cooperation with ‘ruin’ bar and cultural centre Szimpla, we close down the road and built up the museum in an hour.
The exposition tells in a personal way the stories of people who participated in the revolutions and revolts that changed the face of Europe forever. It tells about the motives people had to start or join a protest, even if they had to risk their lives for that. It shows the simple objects that were used during demonstrations and how these candles, pieces of barbed wire and flags with a hole cut into it could become powerful symbols of protest.
"I saw the statue of Stalin being pulled down. 'Woooooooo' it sounded from thousands of mouths at the same time. It felt like a volcanic eruption,” says Laszlo Baranyi (1926) about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in the exhibition. It contains also stories about the student movement of the sixties, the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia ’68, the Monday protests in Eastern Germany en the bloody revolution against dictator Ceausescu in Romania 1989.
The pop-up museum not only keeps the past alive, but focuses on the present too. Europeans seem all so angry nowadays, but what are we angry about? What do we want for the future? In the videobooth people could make their own protest signs and more than hundred people showed their opinion in it. At the special workshops ‘banner making’ people from all over the world discussed fiercely about idealism and for what cause they are willing to fight for. The street smelled of spraypaint for a long time afterwards.
The I’m So Angry (I Made a Sign) will travel to Estonia (Feb 2017), Romania (June 2017) and The Netherlands (2018) among other places. More info here.