Westlicht Wien Hungary 56 – Pictures of a Revolution


In 2015 refugees were a big issue in Europe. In border areas in particular the agitation and the stream of people seeking refuge could be noticed. Hungary and the train station in Budapest were affected quite a lot as well. Thousands of refugees kept waiting there for transit permits, gathering on the spot. These events were covered by a lot of media and resulted in some impressive photographic creations. The works created by contemporary photographers are now displayed in Vienna’s Galerie Westlicht, showing images of the things that happened at the Austro-Hungarian border in autumn 2015.

The images are a reminder of the riots and the suppression of the revolution in Hungary half a century ago which led to large waves of refugees from Hungary to Austria. Now they are merged in the exhibition hall. The exhibit “Hungary 56” reflects these events in the form of documentary photography, revealing historic happenings in black and white photographs.

Photos taken by international photographers like David Hurn, Mario de Riasi, Rolf Gillhausen and Erich Lessing show Budapest 1956 in magazines like “Life” and “Stern” and they’re shown in vintage prints.

On the one hand, as I kept looking at the photos, the brutality and the way the people and the police treated the rebels shocked me, on the other hand the detailed documentary photography also impressed me. This series allows a merciless look at the victims and the young men and women involved and they also show people with weapons and tanks.

As a visitor of this chronological presentation you get to know more about a groundbreaking event in Hungarian history while you also learn a lot about humanity and what can give hope for more democracy. The photographic works document the events from a close perspective.

The exhibit pays off for all those interested in history by combining present and past perfectly. For all those who can’t visit Vienna very soon: Besides the exhibition the works and further information are presented in an exhibition catalog: “Hungary 1956/Erich Lessing & Michael Gehler. Berührendes Portrait einer gescheiterten Revolution – Jahrhundertfotograf Erich Lessing am Höhepunkt seines Schaffens“.

Westlicht Wien
Hungary 56 – Pictures of a Revolution
20 Oct 2016 – 29 Jan 2017


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