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    TANGÓ project
    TelekiTangó, a local history weekend by TANGÓ project
    The TANGÓ project is a complex project: on the one hand, it approaches a part of local histories of the Teleki square of Budapest that has been less researched by the mainstream, filling the gaps in the collection, processing and presentation of the past. On the other hand, it seeks to broaden the range of visual representations and vocabularies of absent voices by involving contemporary photographers, architects, urbanists, criminologists, literary historians and cultural researchers.
    Budapest, 8th district - Józsefváros
    Mainly urban
    It refers to other types of transformations (soft investment)
    As a representative of an organization, in partnership with other organisations
    • Name of the organisation(s): Omnivore Kft
      Type of organisation: For-profit company
      First name of representative: Kata
      Last name of representative: Oltai
      Gender: Female
      Nationality: Hungary
      Function: Director
      Address (country of permanent residence for individuals or address of the organisation)<br/>Street and number: Német utca 6
      Town: Budapest
      Postal code: 1084
      Country: Hungary
      Direct Tel: +36 70 779 2980
    New European Bauhaus or European Commission websites
  • Description of the project
    The TANGÓ project is a local history project with strong links to contemporary visual culture and institutional self-reflections, consisting of series of local history weekends, research and exhibition. During the first local history weekend, two outdoor exhibitions took place, as well as seven city walks and a flea market was organised to explore local history and heritage and strengthen local communities in Budapest's most diverse district. The TANGÓ project creates the opportunity to strengthen affection by rediscovering the urban habitat and its beauty.

    The TANGÓ project is a study of a specific quarter of Outer-Józsefváros, Teleki László Square and its surroundings. The aim of the project is to roam through this historically rich but socially underrated area, both conceptually and physically. Compared to the cosmopolitan, well-functioning centre, Józsefváros is a periphery that has hosted an extremely diverse and complex range of nationalities, religions and occupations, both in the past and in the present. Once the second largest Jewish neighbourhood in the city, it now has an active and growing Muslim community with a heterogeneous ethnic background. It has the largest Roma community in the city, but it also had a significant Slovak and Swabian population, and today has a dominant Chinese community, all waiting to be discovered and studied. The multiethnic urban space ensures the inclusivity and everyone can find their a specific point of connection to this sphere.

    The TANGÓ project is a complex project that combines many approaches: on the one hand, it approaches a part of local history that has been less researched by the mainstream, filling the gaps in the collection, processing and presentation of the past. On the other hand, it seeks to broaden the range of visual representations in the present by involving contemporary art specialists, photographers, architects, urbanists, criminologists, literary historians, cultural researchers and urbanists.
    local history
    cultural heritage
    new visual vocabulary
    good neighborhood project
    absent voices
    Sustainability was at the heart of the initiative: by raising awareness of the need to cherish our old values through public walking tours showcasing the vivid stories and faces of the 8th district. During TANGÓ a diverse audience could experience through tangible examples and later inclusively discuss the everyday connotations of sustainability at the open-air exhibitions and workshops. TANGÓ provided a platform to bring sustainability closer to participants, which presented how it is an approach that can be applied in everyday life, rather than an abstract concept. For instance, the organized flea market, was a place, which strongly criticized harmful production and waste-based consumption and offered an experiential, on-the-ground alternative instead. With this type of action, we show that sustainability can be a way of life. Moreover, TANGÓ is devoted in supporting circular economy and reviving the original functions of Teleki square, like the public flea market, as urban markets have been the most important meeting points for people since the concept of city came to life, where people exchange goods and ideas, where social classes are broken down. These secondary, informal trading venues are globally valued in times of crisis, which is why it is timely to bring them back to the inner districts. In the spirit of inclusiveness at the open flea market anyone could come and experience….

    Teleki square has been an overlooked and unused park, although it was technically renovated recently, still no has not found its function. Since Budapest has a regrettably small proportion of public spaces per capita, it is essential to lure the community out of its urban surroundings into a greener environment.
    A key objective of the TANGÓ project was to bring elite culture and community together again, or perhaps for the first time in this part of Budapest. This meant, on the one hand, involving cultural institutions (local and regional in scope) whose attention, capacity and therefore collection and presentation techniques were missing this part of Budapest, the community living here, whether past or present.

    On the other hand, the local history weekend, as a multi-day event, also aimed to strengthen and help shape the resident community's own self-definition. So we had a strong, several months long public participatory program. With contemporary photographers, we walked the neighborhood, sat down, made friends, and returned to take portraits of the craftsmen, tradesmen, and residents of the area. This was in several cases a so-called social portrait, including the surroundings, assets, family, or the daily context of the subject.

    The whole event was also based on the theme of the park and market hall (grocery market) on the square, so we involved the public with outdoor exhibition installations, a flea market and an active presence. For the whole project it was premordial how collective scenes were created where embodied methods that foreground active listening where explored.

    The outdoor exhibition about the history of Teleki square (the so-called Tangó) and the neighborhood was designed in a way to attract anyone without a special knowledge of historiography. The huge portraits printed on lightware fabrics were installed in different areas of the public park with the aim to invite more people to read the texts and stories, participate in the events, engage in future photographic or collective sessions. Last but not least, viewers experienced the good feeling of discovering themselves or their neighbour or even the local greengrocer in the picture.
    The TANGÓ project is focused on building bridges between people and different local communities using various methods and disciplines to communicate its message around sustainability, inclusion and culture. It also attracts people living and working in the area to appreciate the values and history of the built environment, while the placed materials teach them about their surroundings through arousing their curiosity.
    Accessibility and affordability were central factors when the TANGÓ project was designed. The physical location of the iniative, Józsefváros, and Teleki square in particular demanded that the programs are free and accessible to everyone. Bringing together elite culture and the people occupying the urban periphery could only be made possible by offering a range of programs and activities open to all interested parties. The TANGÓ project invited elites to explore the cultural heritage and contemporary context of the 8th district and to connect with neighbours over generational, cultural and ethnic divides.
    The TANGÓ project’s aim was to offer a counter-narrative about a "crime-ridden and dangerous" district, the "least safe part" of Budapest by involving the locals, who shared their stories and memories about the life in the quarter.
    A series of programmes aimed at those who live here, not hiding our intention to start a community collection of family photos, documents, individual stories that have no trace in the broader historical frame, but still have a community-forming power as they gave voices to the locals.
    By researching existing documentation in public and community collections, the local history material, edited onto 10 billboards, was developed, telling the history of the space from a social history perspective. The existing historical material was complemented by the work of two contemporary photographers, with whom the material was developed in close collaboration over a period of weeks, and which reveals new, previously unseen, aspects
    The Teleki Square and its surroundings provide an opportunity to present a significant and largely unknown dimension of Budapest's cultural heritage within the framework of the TANGÓ project, and to reach out to the present to map the face and customs of the city and its community, to explore where the negatively coded vocabulary of the "cultural Other" could be overwritten. For instance, city walks with Uccu (a civil rights organization for Romani people), dismantling negative stereotypes about the 8th district and the connotation between thug life, crime and Romas.
    Budapest can be viewed as a segregated city: a well-functioning, affluent centre and deprived, misinterpreted, multiethnic outskirts. Of which is 8th district a distinguished example. Giving voice to the previously unheard without forgetting their participation, was one of the major ambition of our project.

    Another leg of the project was linked to an agora-like, where NGOs linked to the ethnically-diverse, socially-disadvantaged neighborhoods and people living in the neighborhood were invited for a discussion. On Friday and Saturday, the Square of Opportunities, the Rosa Parks Foundation's Invisible School and the Bagázs Association (NGO specialized in teaching disadvantaged children and creating special learning group for Roma women living in segregated parts of the capital) took part with their own programs and activities.
    In the context of the TANGÓ project, tree institutions have been involved at this stage up to now. Partnerships with the Archives of the Capital of Budapest and the Józsefváros Museum for long-term joint work was established to promote community learning, archival use and collecting. As part of the collaboration tutorial videos were filmed on how to use the Archives, and the following research is also planned social housing/shared housing.
    To strengthen our local focus, the Józsefváros Municipal Body for Communities was encouraged to join our initiative, who provided further useful insights during the implementation of the TANGÓ project.
    The Józsefváros Museum, as a local history collection and started to be assembled as a result of the project, which aims to establish a concentrated community collection of family photographs, documents, memories, objects.
    A major success of the TANGÓ project was, when the international Topoteca network accepted the Józsefváros Museum, a closed collection project, and was transferred to the Museum from the Archives, then later reopened, which created the opportunity to start a new chapter for preserving our local values: collect personal archives. It was particularly important during the implementation of the TANGÓ project make them be aware of how their personal stories and all the documents connected contribute to the community's collective self-representation and esteem.
    The TANGÓ project is a complex project that combines many approaches: on the one hand, it approaches a part of local history that has been less researched by the mainstream, filling the gaps in the collections, processing and presentation of the past. On the other hand, it seeks to broaden the range of visual representations in the present by involving contemporary art specialists, photographers, architects, criminologists, literary historians, cultural researchers and urbanists.
    The local history weekend offered a unique opportunity for interaction between representatives of these diverse fields.
    Over the course of months, walking and talking with local residents and shopkeepers, recording oral histories, we built up a relationship of trust. This trust led to the fact that we could supplement the schematic picture that we found in the collections and archives with the personal stories, portraits, and family photos of the residents. Our colleagues took this information and the details built on each other as a basis for the city walks, where they brought closer the built, intellectual, Roma or Jewish history of the area based on different aspects.
    Large, canon-forming, state-maintained institutions ignore a series of phenomena that have intensified in the last few years and, in some cases, brought social changes. We started to investigate and discuss these with a number of professionals from different fields. A significant part of society in Hungary, especially the people who live in this area, are excluded from the spaces of cultural consumption, either because of ethnic or religious aspects, or even because of the color of their skin. They are in no way addressed or subjects of culture, on the contrary, they were objectified by it. Our effort was to bring new-confidence to those who were never the protagonists of the mainstream cultural canon.
    Also this is the very last moment to capture a generation born around WWII brought up in the socialism, probably never left Hungary or Budapest and spent a life with hard work: the craftsmen and tradesmen (and women) of an almost forgotten world. Due to our efforts several portraits and oral history study became part of the local archive of Józsefváros. A new research began focusing on these craftsmen tradition and the everyday life of the Roma population of the district.

    During the three days, about two thousand people visited the square, used the park, the exhibitions, the market, the walks went with 40-65 people instead of the maximum of 20 people. Both of our hoped-for expectations were achieved, on the one hand, a large number of people came from the square and its surroundings - including foreigners living here - and we managed to reach at least the same number of Budapest residents who visited Teleki László Square or the VIII. District for the first time in their lives.
    To grasp TANGÓ project's innovative character: the up-to-date ways of learning or gaining knowledge through collective experience, the relationship building within the local community and beyond, and the multi-disciplinary approach to grab the essence of the quarter, has to be highlighted. Moreover, fostering a sense of belonging, bridging gaps between the urban center and outskirts, creating connections between people of different age, societal and ethnic backgrounds were reforming milestones of the event. Another dreamed outcome was to create a counter-narrative to the negative image of the 8th district, a positive/more complex narrative that every resident - or even Budapester -, can claim as their own.
    Methodologically, it aims to combine the traditional tools of contemporary visual cultural institutions - research, exhibitions, workshops, residencies - with those of contemporary urban planning and community building - urban programs, NGO involvement, gentrification studies, park use.
    Our approach focused on bringing together different communities and generations, revitalizing public space as a possibility to show, exhibit, process or even discuss one's own and the shared identities. In the preparatory phase, collecting oral histories, taking social portraits of the neighborhood and portraits of local residents gave the opportunity to contextualize what the historians and other institutional colleges previously collected. TANGÓ project used the public space as a set design to showcase a counter-narrative, the exhibition design was inspired by the secondary market (previously here in the square), the informal architecture, the visual stimuli of the area - we used all this to highlight the write something outside the canon: to bring in the previously absent voices into the light.
    TANGÓ project used the city walks (by professionals) as a horizontal method to transfer knowledge instead of simple sitting-and-learning, to those who were deprived of the opportunity of formal learning.
    As a summery of previously mentioned hereby we emphasize the following aspects:
    -co-creation with local historians, artists and civil society
    -creating a dialogue between different generations, social, ethnic and religious groups
    -re-claiming public space
    -offering a sense of belonging, local identities, creating inclusive and unique experiences and learning opportunities
    -creating visibility through new visual representation on absent voices (in mainstream cultural scenes and collection and in the public space)
    The entire Central-Eastern European region is facing multiple crises and a never seen transition of which their previous experiences and general public knowledge does not make them capable of finding the resolution. Therefore our societies needs and deserves TANGÓ-like projects which provides keys to understand and to collectively acquire knowledge, curiosity, and sustainable solutions. Issues such as rising social inequalities, disconnect between the center and periphery, urban poverty, segregation, clash between elites and the precariat/subordinate classes, underfunded and decaying city districts are prevailing threats to our communities.
    Changing face of the city, cosmopolitan spaces, gentrification, disappering local history and context are major harm to our cultural heritage, this process has already started in the 8th district too. In this part of the world facing our own history was always troubling, a new generation of cultural thinkers do not want to remain in the ivory towers but work closely on social issues with everyday people in everyday situations.
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