Programs of photography in the autumn at the Capa Center and the 120-year-old Mai Manó House

Photo Street Festival – photography as a democratized instrument of communication or the dialectics of visual language
from 9 to 12 October 2014
Capa Center and Mai Manó House

Besides photography, there is hardly any other branch of contemporary culture which is enjoyed and practised by so many people. Photographs have a very important role to play in our everyday life. We are not only on the receptive side but almost all of us also take innumerable pictures with modern telecommunication equipment every day.
Photography as an art and as a report about our world, as information and an experiment equally belong to everyday communication. The culture of photography is part of a creative industry, of mass communication and of modern art. There are no linguistic barriers and photography – due to the quick receptibility – always offers a basic level of reception even in the case of the most complicated artistic aspirations. Therefore it is no coincidence that besides its role in mass communication, photography is radically getting ahead in contemporary fine art.

Photography became a wide-spreading and disengaged way of everyday communication.

The Photo Street Festival would like to reach many people and explain in an easily intelligible language, what is happening to photography now that practically everybody can take pictures and actually does at any time. People do so in order to show and share what they like and what they think, that is they take photos in order to communicate. It is a challenge for professional photographers that everybody takes photos. However, the public does not realize and understand that photography is a language behaving similarly to spoken language which can be and must be – not only instictively – practised, used and interpreted.

The three day series of events during the Photo Street Festival intends to show the ways photography communicates. We are planning a large-scale visual festival, which helps enjoying, interpreting and using photography in a very popular way, expecting the active involvement of the professionals and the general public.

The Photo Street Festival includes a Family Photo Festival in the Mai Manó House
The family, the importance of belonging to a family, the opportunity to learn about the past, the changes in photography and how we look at pictures are topics that professional photographers and the general public are also interested in. Taking photos of the family draws the attention to the past and the present of the quickly changing profession of photography on the one hand and to the indispensability of families as small communities through searching family photographs and telling old family stories on the other hand.
Photographs are taken in all the premises of Mai Manó House and on the street in front of the building. The visitors may learn about the history, the various forms and scenes of family photography. Professional photographers are taking family pictures with studio-like background sets and objects.
People are photographed in costumes and the general public may observe archaic techniques of photography (ambrotype or wet collodion positive process, 1851) in the Daylight Studio. In this process, the collodion was poured and made sensitive on the glass plate, then exposed and the negative was developed still before drying which became a positive image after being fixed by the photographer on the spot.
An automatic camera is installed in front of Mai Manó House in order to take family selfies among specially built sets. Polaroid family pictures, digital photos are taken by prominent contemporary photographers with painted backgrounds, costumes and sets.

The expansion of the Capa Center
The Robert Capa Center of Contemporary Photography, the first state-funded institute of Hungarian professional photography began to work in autumn 2013 pursuant to a government resolution. In addition to showing the works of Hungarian and international photographers, the Capa Center is assigned to provide education and to do research related to the visual culture, as well as to organize programs and events for professional photographers and for the other arts. The premises of the former Tivoli Theatre have been leased by the Capa Center since August 2014.
The Capa Center is located in the building at 8 Nagymező Street which was constructed by local entrepreneur and art-dealer Ernst Lajos about 100 years ago. According to the original design, the largest cinema of the city was working on the ground floor (on the street level). There was an exhibition and an auction room on the first floor, a piano room and studio-apartments on the upper floors. The various parts of the art nouveau building were artificially divided in the 1950s, so the cinema (Tivoli Theatre) and the exhibition space (Capa Center, former Ernst Museum) were separated from each other. The present reunification is not only a restoration, but it may also create an institute unique in Central Europe.
The floorspace of the Capa Center has been doubled by this recultivation: enlarged with a conference room for 200 persons, a store-room, an entrance-hall and additional premises, the institute can provide place for high-standard events of photography, programs of other arts, conferences and festivals according to its original objective. In this way, a contemporary cultural centre of photography, a pioneer in Central Europe may come into existence.

Further programs of photography in this autumn in Nagymező Street


Second Skin – Visual Codes of Social Constructions
from 30 September to 2 November 2014
This exhibition, curated by Oltai Kata explores the range of issues about how we build up our personality that we show to the people who surround us, what do coercive or freely choosen social roles mean to us and whether they and their corresponing signalling systems exist at all. How is our cultural identity, our personality and our belonging to certain groups built up in a global culture becoming more and more homogeneous. What meanings are assigned by the majority society or a subculture to certain pieces of clothes, accessories and to the stylization of the body. How are uniforms created for certain social rites which may become the instruments of criticism of a specific routine later on. The pictures of more than 30 contemporary photographers are displayed at the exhibition, from the period just before the end of communism until today.

Image and Nonsense (working title)
from 17 November 2014 to late February 2015
The idea of a joint exhibition of the Capa Center and Kitchen Budapest came from the fact that a new generation of observation instruments appeared on the market (Google Glass, Oculus Rift, etc.) and several research and development efforts are aiming at developing new tools for observation and image processing, reinterpreting our vision and our visual perception. Some of these instruments already have experience and direction of applications, but they are still not wide-spread. Therefore they are primarily used by early adopters, advanced users and artists. The mission of the exhibition is to map, systematize and show these ways of application – the applications visioned and suggested by the manufacturers, side by side with the applications visioned by the early users and with the hacked applications.
Our objective with this exhibition is to show to young people (14 to 25) in a playful and entertaining manner what these important instruments are which provide help to our vision and observation that will determine the next decade. We want to attract their interest, to influence their creativity, to encourage them to try and use these instruments and to shape their thinking, to enlarge their vision about potential applications.
The exhibition is curated by cultural mediator Nemes Attila, co-curators Kiss László and Boros Judit.


Sylvia Plachy – When Will Be Tomorrow?
From 13 November 2014 to February 2015

The world-famous photographer of Hungarian decent, Sylvia Plachy was born in Budapest. She left Hungary through the Austrian border after the revolution in 1956 when she was 13, hiding with her parents in a horsecart. Two years later, they settled in New York where she still lives with her family.
She started to take photographs in 1964 and she studied photography at the Pratt Institute. She became a student and friend of André Kertész. Their intimate master-student relationship was coloured by a grandfather-granddaughter relationship which was a very important experience for both. Sylvia Plachy became the spriritual successor of Kertész’ humanism and his way of seeing things through photography, combined with her own personality.
Her life and photographic work was accompanied by continuous success and recognition. Her life is an excellent example of how the child of an immigrant family can realize her dreams, how she can build up her professional career with firmly preserving her human values and at the same time – together with her husband – raising a talented boy who became a world-famous actor.
Sylvia Plachy was characterized by Richard Avedon in this way: “She makes me laugh and she breaks my heart. She is a moral being. She is everything that a photographer must be.“
The exhibition entitled When Will Be Tomorrow is a review of her whole life’s work, a selection of her older and recent photographs, colour, as well as black and white pictures. The exhibition takes the morality pervading all her works and her faith in photography which are in the focus of her personality as a basis: without them this life’s work would not even exist.

Mai Manó House is 120 years old
The last workers of master builder Hahn József left the recently completed and pronouncedly representative building in the middle of Terézváros district in late autumn 1894. The house was admired during several months by the gentlefolks promenading along Andrássy Road and Nagymező Street. It was because – although beautiful classicist and eclectic apartment houses and palaces were built one after the other at the turn of the twentieth century in the middle of Budapest – it was still very rare to see the facade of a building decorated with puttoes made of Zsolnay ceramics, green majolica coating, statues by Róna József and murals showing the muses of photography. The building has been almost unchanged until today and originally it gave place for the studios and the apartment of imperial and royal court photographer Mai Manó. The building has already been run by the House of Hungarian Photographers for twenty years, organising exhibitions and various events, maintaining the country’s largest library on photography and a bookshop. The house has exceptional qualities. There is no other palace in Europe like this one in such a good condition which was specifically designed for purposes of photography which has three storeys but eight levels, moreover it is located at one of the most beautiful and most visited sites of the capital.

Mai Manó
The first owner of the building was imperial and royal court photographer Mai Manó (1855-1917).
He was born in Pest as the son of doctor and professor Mai Henrik and his wife, Éliás Klára. He was already working as an independent photographer in 1878, he had a studio equipped in a small house at the corner of Vilmos császár (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky) Road and Andrássy Road. He also bought the building at 20 Nagymező Street in 1892 (Mai Manó Ház), which he reconstructed in order to accommodate studios. He founded the Self-instruction and Aid Association of Young Photographers in 1885 and he was also one of the founding initiators the National Association of Hungarian Photographers. He was elected president of the Photographers’ Table in 1896. He won a golden medal with his photographs at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of the journal entitled The Light (1906-1917). He was buried in 1917 at the Jewish cemetery in Kozma Street. His wife, Rothauser Etelka died in 1926 and she rests with her husband.

Photographer Mai Manó is commemorated by Hungarian photography in 2014 with a diverse series of programs, celebrating Mai Manó House, the most beautiful monument of Hungarian photography.

A photography contest for families entitled GENERATIONS TOGETHER is announced between 1 and 30 September by Mai Manó House in cooperation with Indafoto on the occasion of the building’s 120th anniversary. The subject is the portrayal of generations together, combining the features of Mai Manó’s period with the qualities of the 21st century. We are not only expecting to receive family photographs which are the products of eventuality but rather well-thought-out and pre-set photographs showing the ceative process, not only an accidentally recorded moment. The formal and technical approach of the entries is not restricted to any genre, it can be freely treated and interpreted. Candidates are entitled to submit only one series made after 2010 (minimum 3 and maximum 5 pictures) to the contest.

Collection of Mai Manó’s relics and restoration of Mai Manó’s tombstone
Photographs made by imperial and royal photographer Mai Manó, hidden by family archives, as well as documents, newspapers and books related to his person are collected by Mai Manó House for the anniversary exhibition in order to create the basis of a Mai Manó archives.

Family photography – an exhibition in honour of the 120 year old Mai Manó House
from 9 October to 9 November 2014
Photographs are proofs. They prove that people lived before us and they will testify that we lived when we will not exist any more. The question where we are going cannot be interpreted without the certainty of knowing where we have come from. The family photo collection is a great help, either in the form of an album or a box or a digital memory card. The exhibition intends to provide a space and an opportunity for family photographs, for old and recent pictures, timing it for the anniversary of Mai Manó House, the most beautiful monument of the photographer’s profession. A triple anniversary is celebrated in 2014: this year Mai Manó House is 120, the exhibition rooms are 20 and the library is 15 years old.