With a bunch of secondary school students from the image factory, we were wandering around Vasgyár and the area of ex LKM, with a camera at hand. Our visual activity was directed at finding out how to understand the details of the Factory. We documented, discussed shapes and meanings, invited guests, created a cognitive map, and played role-play. We also had dreams of a website, which would incorporate the image we have developed of the factory. Our initial wanderings became more definitely aimed movements of a sense of duty. We did our best to contribute to the effort of preserving the factory in the imaginary map of the town as more than just a patch of rust or black hole in the efforts of giving it a sense.
The factory gets a structure through routes and stories. During our first trip of the camp,-near the cooling towers- we try to open the handles of doors marked with crash helmet signs of the elephant swallowed by the snake from the Little Prince. We even try to get out the pieces of glass from a broken window- somehow we need to get in! Two guards open a door as we are just passing by. – You cannot take photos, but you can come in. It is difficult to obey the ban, the huge machines are very attractive, and so are the gestures of the guard in the uniform, with his half sentences. He accompanies the explanation of the production process with broad gestures. – There comes the steel sheet, this one captures it here, but the other one is here to try it again, in case it does not work the first time, it takes an hour and half to get around.
I ask him in disbelief..- Does the factory still work? – Of course it does, he says. When he gets to the point in the story where come the foxes, birds and other animals which moved in, comes the question: but are there people still working here? No it all stopped two years ago. He still uses present for the factory in his tight lipped comments.
During one of our first, frosty tours of the factory we ended up at an iron deposit, with Éva Varga, who is a sculptor. Eva’s enthusiasm shines trough the old pieces of rusty metal. Treasures surface after one another- the amorphous shape of the enforced cement enclosed to itself is a really interesting form, from whichever angle you look at it. So is the steel rose splashed while hot, and then stiffened in its place and the empty revolver magazines.
The iron spoons of the Rhythm Blacksmith Workshop put against the wall in a neat row-the blacksmiths have gone for lunch but will be back soon. We could not even move any of the spoons. Following this we mention the place as the Sculpture Park. By summer we dig among the piles with a fever of a beggar on the street. We find ready made pieces, also construct stuff and make puzzles. This is the no man’s land of metal waste, forbidden to touch and collect. But we cannot let Petra’s sour metal smiley to disappear without a trace. We have been looking at each other since spring.
It becomes customary for us that every time approach the Sculpture Park, among beautiful brick buildings, through the valley of a railway. We could pass the Small Court, which is surrounded by wooden buildings. The Small Court is the most curious place in the Iron Factory. As If a one time leader had the idea to hide his cottage in the heart of the Iron Factory. In the middle of the yard, is put a lean factory tow, just for decoration.
Szotyi the guard dog is always our companion, as we pass trough the pillars. He has a special technique to attract attention. As we pass him by, hardly any of us leaves him without some strokes. He always turns back at the pile of old household appliances.
For young people this world is so strange, that they can only look at it from a very unusual point of view. With a camera in their hand they contemplate: What is going on here? How can this be? Who were these people? What have they left here? Why this way:..?No, it was not a photography camp, but we called it that just to make things simple. We were not learning photography. Then again, we did that too, because it sticks, curious eyes take the experience, as we look back at each other’s photos in the mornings. The camera is only a tool, the means of access. It is at hand, to get close to the unknown.
The kids take photographs of the factory, and I take photographs of them. We need the documentation for the project assessment. I can’t get enough of their enthusiasm, as they find beauty and fascination in this pile of rubble. And the demolitionist can just have it, my friends. But who would want steaming factory towers in the middle of the city?
Dr. László Drótos takes us to a still working blacksmith’s. There is something wrong; workers loitering around are waiting for us. One of them climbs up a stall under the roof, to fix something. Then the group so well used to each other, begins to pull and push, carry the iron patch from the furnance still beaming. How heavy can it be? How close does it burn you? The men control the situation, there is no sign of fear, at all. The guy on the forklift pulling the beaming iron drives it with one hand loose, cigarette in other. The self awareness of the workers echoed decades ago is embodied in this, also solidarity and responsibility, adds the ex- manger of the Iron Factory.
Among the huge shapes, we often come across particular, say intimate spaces. Among the cooling towers Emese finds the place where we could lay the factory to rest. The towers could be two huge candles. One night we can come out in black clothes and set up a funeral for the factory. The idea is great, we have fun discussing it for a while, but the funeral of the factory gets us scared even in broad daylight, there are wires hanging in the air. It’s an eerie place, chillingly beautiful. It must be full of ghosts. The sick boy is alive.
Boós Feri brings videos about the graffiti, sprays and other stuff for the stencil. The group gets immersed in the process of planning, drawing, cutting, spraying processes. Time to time they consult each other, looking for solutions, helping holding the stencil, chasing empty wall spaces, and spraying their characters on the wall with bright eyes. My big, pillar legged black dog is on the side of the iron door, towards the dance hall. It is swaying its tail and sticks his tongue out. If you ever go there, have a look at it!
While they are preparing the wall for the foreign artists arriving at the Factory Festival, and whitewash the Sick Boy, their disappointment is obvious. But these are world famous masters- We want the Sick Boy back, he is our memory.
We try to get creativity practice- after Erdély Miklós- which make in itself the idea of perfection impossible, thus the urge of it too. We take photographs by cameras on our stomach, in cellars we draw our shadows in the light,…
Dripping and pavement drawings are skipped, and by the end of the camp, there is one prominent picture line, the desire to finally occupy the Factory. The group splits into two. The girls play the memoirs of the secretaries and ladies of a gone by era at the run down office building, (Cindy Sherman finally came to the Socialist Hungary). The other group has a quick pace holiday at all the exotic places of the Factory, For Us the LKM is the Riviera… carriage pick nick, Dubai on the grass, Turbine rodeo..
The factory is very tempting, climbing up, getting in, all kinds of holes, closed doors, broken windows, -This is more than enough, the guys are misbehaving at the burnt out office buildings. At the end of the camp, remembering the Stakhanovist past, and doing one more, the 7th day, - when after continuous worry- Do not climb up!
Come out underneath of that! Do not go in there!- I manage to take home the last camper, I get worked up and have to look behind the “Don’have a bath” kind of iron door. It gets undone, and almost ends up on my back. – It’s time for me to leave the ground, go home and sort out those pictures, and stuff.
There is the Grass, for example. It is a huge, empty space in the middle of the factory, surrounded by the most rundown buildings in the whole place. Among its piles of rubbles we lost sight of each others several times. In the sunshine, when you are tired, it takes forever to scramble trough it. We did it a few times. Still if I look around in my mind, I can only recall the buildings with difficulties. Those are the most helpful photographs which, were taken from above” From the chimney, which Gergely did not climb”but did get taken anyway. From these photos do I understand, that the long wall, behind which I always imagined buildings is only a wall. The factory buildings have been demolished behind it. Klaudia told us what a surprise it was when they discovered it, being there.
Outside the professional artistic world, the art education’s quiet paradox is that you do not need to want a good work of art. They just happen, by the way. They find a way to surface through enthusiastic attention. The factory and the Factory are an unavoidable experience. There is no lack of attention, enthusiasm and photos. Their views project great chances of the modern art scene. Land art, street art, public art, readymade, concept art, you cannot find a more suitable venue. But the factory has iron will, and it is only gradually willing to retreat behind educational aims- first you need to get trough the forms of huge concrete and iron mass.
Wondering around the forbidden-never said zone, photos of amazement were taken by the hundreds. Then the occurrences which made it easier to express this weirdness started to appear, strange vegetation constellation, weird colours, human traces, snakes, plants going up to the sky, workshops, and forms with role-play in the space. By the end we also started making sense of who understood certain situations with a camera at hand.
Annika discovered dramatic details, Anna did surreal ones. Klaudia has strong contours; Gergely’s pictures explode with space, in Petra’s case details add up to an abstract composition. Szilvi, Dia and Zsófi preferred set up situations; Flóri handled well bodies and gestures, Bea colours, Böbe surfaces. Plants on Zoli’s pictures became acting entities with a peculiar sense of humour. And when it came to the exercise brought by Fabricius Anna, where the sentences from Stalker had to be organised in gradually expanding series of pictures, the sense of seriality, minimalised set of tools, visual mindset, and the relation between pictures and text can be assessed.
We try to stuff the points of remembrance and the points of new stories and those of imagination at the website. This picture of the Factory does not resemble the original too much. But the direction of the rewrite is not set by a bulldozer, at least. In the old office house a beautiful, but rather run down paper version is kept of the factory. It lacks parts, they disappeared, longs for renovation, for getting out under the thick dust of not saying things. The photo taken of it from above will be the background of the website, where we explain how we pictured the Factory. I try to place our photos on it. My mental map, The Google Earth map and the paper factory are the helping point, by which the interactive points are looking for their place.
The memory space is difficult to fit together, the pictured space and the space of the website. The paper version has quite a few buildings which not a trace left, and other important objects are missing. Google Earth also show some buildings which have been demolished. The Grass cannot be imagined based on that for example. Some photographs contain things which I have no idea where they can be found in reality. There are an awful lot of great photos, it is difficult to select. The photos of amazement from the documentation part of the website: as we walk through the factory, slowly in an orderly way.
That is to say the part we managed to discover in a matter of months. One day, if we get the means, we will continue with the rest. The other inverse website, The Visible Space of the Iron Factory, has a different view of the factory. We add to it, rewrite it, select it, organise it, make it as ours, use it, and sometimes make it retreat. We organise it trough visual occurrences, questions, contents to be expressed, as opposed to local problems. Role plays, gatherings, conceptual ideas, different sustainability, the images of survival are placed here. This is our contribution to conserve that part of the past which is sustainable, and to create a presence in the factory.
Helping in the project were: Kosztyi Klaudia and Pogonyi Dávid. Many thanks for their help and enthusiasm.
The illustrating pictures were taken by in order of appearance: Pogonyi Dávid, Pogonyi Dávid, Szvák Anna, Kosztyi Klaudia, Jurkó Petra, Jurkó Petra, Urbán Katalin, Tuczai Rita, Tuczai Rita, Pogonyi Dávid, Nagygyörgy Zoltán, Lukács Diana, Gál Florentina, Tóth Zsófia, Pogonyi Dávid, Dobos Gergely, Dobos Gergely, Dobos Gergely, Dobos Gergely, Nagygyörgy Zoltán, Jurkó Petra, Szappanos Szilvia, Básthy Ágnes, Dobos Gerrgely, Matta Beatrix.
The website mentioned in the text can be found at the following address:
Básthy Ágnes Demeter Dávid Dobos Gergely Dobrocsi Gábor
Kosztyi Klaudia Lukács Diana
Nagy Emese Nagygyörgy Zoltán Niklai Roland Pogonyi Dávid
Szabó Blanka Erzsébet Szappanos Szilvia Szvák Anna