Conversation with IBS students Linn Olin and Rina Statovci who organized a donation at IBS. The donation is however only part of a bigger project, “Where the heart is”, that Linn and Rina initiated and realized.
How did the donation and your project begin?
Linn: We both are in the Funding the Arts class where we all need to come up with a project idea and carry it out. I always wanted to do something meaningful, to help other people, and decided to dedicate my school project for a good aim. I knew that Rina was a photographer and would be interested in a project like that, she mentioned it in the previous semester that she wanted to organize an exhibition about the situation of homeless people in Budapest. So, I asked her if she was interested to work together with me and we came up with an outline of our project, similar to Rina’s original idea to document and show the situation in the streets here in Budapest.
Rina: When I came to Hungary two years ago, I saw many homeless people and that surprised me. I wanted to know why there were so many. But when you are in a new city, all by yourself, it is not so easy. I wanted to take photographs in the in street but it was difficult as I do not speak the language, so I cannot just go up to people and talk to them, I cannot explain what I am doing and why, I cannot ask for their consent either. I did not want to be a voyeur or make them upset. I read a lot of articles but I did not really get an answer. Anyway, I started to make pictures on my own and I wanted to make an exhibition on my own. Linn had an idea, and a project plan. So we decided to work together. In the course of this cooperation we also realized that it is a huge responsibility to approach anybody, and that it is a huge project what we wanted to carry out.
How did you continue?
Linn: Due to a very short time-frame, as well as language barriers, we realized that we could not do this in the street, so we decided to carry out the project in a shelter where we could more easily approach homeless people. We asked around and found a contact person for the Oltalom Karitativ Egyesület.
Rina: There was still communication difficulties, so we also needed somebody who spoke Hungarian and could help us with translating. It was Bálint Jakucs a student and friend at IBS, who is not in the class but who helped us a lot, he came with me to the shelter. He also helped to document what we were doing. In the shelter we received help from Judit who worked there, she showed us around. We saw where people sleep where they keep their cloths, everything. We wanted to talk to the people in the shelter. So, with the help of Judit, we asked who would be willing to do an interview with us, and it was Bálint who helped us to document the interviews. Some just did not want to talk, some were happy to share their story. Some of them did not want to show their face, talk, so we had to do everything with empathy and be careful. We asked for their consent and approval of the interviews. Of course, what we wanted to know was how and why they ended up here. I also photographed the people, the environment, how they live. When we went to the shelter that was a real inspiration, we felt, we had to do something.
Will you exhibit the photos?
Rina: We took a lot of photos but we will exhibit only 18, some videos and drawings.
What kind of drawings?
Linn: I have some friends, artists, and I asked them if they wanted to contribute to this project, they said yes. They are a group called, the Painters Palace, it is a creative community. They joined, and the idea was to create portraits. So, I arranged the second meeting in the shelter with Judit, and with her help we asked who would like to join and have his/her portrait. We were a big, colorful group of people, somebody came and played the guitar, other people were talking to the inhabitants of the shelter. It was a really nice and lively gathering which seemed to be truly appreciated at the shelter. Then, a few weeks into the project, other students in our class showed interest in participating. So we decided to make a joint project as a group, and collaborated together on what other elements we could add to the exhibition. Some people were interested in music, others helped us in trying to find a location where we could hold the event.
And then came a longer break, the project was on hold for a long time when we could not really work on it. We all had a lot to do, and the whole project got more complicated. We needed a place where to show all the above, and we could not find a venue. So far we all did everything without money, Bálint made the videos, Rina made the photos, my friends made the drawings, everybody invested work into the project for free. And suddenly it was a situation that we had to pay, pay for the projector, for the place, for all kinds of things, and we were wondering to change the project and make it an online exhibition.
Rina: Of course, in our home country it would have been easier, but here being non-Hungarians everything is more demanding. There is another student, we should mention his name Tim Atkins. He is in IBS but not in the class, and he volunteered to our project, once we were just complaining that we did so much and now we do not have a venue where to exhibit all these. Then, one evening Tim said, wait a second, I check something, he disappeared for 10 minutes, and then came back and we had the place 10 minutes later in Rumbach Sebestyen utca 9 (RS9) So we had a place, we had it for free, so we had everything.
How long is the exhibition on?
Rina: It is a one-night event.
Linn: We thought that we also would like to give something to people in the shelter, so I initiated a donation in IBS. Two students from our Funding the Arts class, Rita Dias and Anais Robin, were volunteering to organize and be responsible for the donations. The donations would go to Oltalom shelter which has been participating in our project, and to thank them, we would like to give as much as we can to people staying at the shelter.
Donations could be done in the exhibition as well, where you could buy prints, drawings and the photos that Rina took. And we are thinking to maybe create a platform where we could continue raising funds for the Oltalom shelter in exchange for those photos or prints that we still have. This whole project is a way to show that we as individuals can come together and do something for others.