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István Bielik

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István Bielik (b. 1985) is a freelance photographer based in Budapest. He works with various Hungarian newspapers and online magazines. As a photographer, he sees it as his mission to use the instruments of visual storytelling to present the situation of the downtrodden and those who live as minorities on the margins of society, who cannot make themselves heard by the majority. In so doing, he shines a light on injustices in the world.

His work has been recognized through a variety of prestigious professional awards and achievements: In 2014 he was awarded the Grand Prize of the 32nd Hungarian Press Photo Competition for a photo series about the civil war in Syria. In 2015 he covered the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the impact of the refugee crisis across Europe. In the same year he was selected to participate in the Joop Swart Masterclass organized by the World Press Photo Organization. In 2017 he took part in the workshop of Magnum Photos as a recipient of the Robert Capa Centre’s scholarship. In 2018 he was the recipient of the Károly Hemző prize, one of the leading Hungarian photography awards, in recognition of his photo series which drew on a sophisticated form language to capture social phenomena in a way that reflects the photographer’s deep social sensitivity. In the same year, he was also selected to join the Nikon-NOOR Academy Masterclass.

He was awarded the Pécsi József Photography Grant in 2015, 2018 and 2019 for his project entitled The Last Storytellers. In his work thus far, he has tended to focus on the presentation of contemporary societal problems and conflicts, as well as their ramifications. But presenting the victims of long-gone repressive regimes, his The Last Storytellers diverges from this focus. Pursuing a similar theme, his The Darkest Hour series shows that in the same way that the wounds carried by the survivors of labor camps continue to mark the victims to this very day, the underlying experiences have also left an enduring imprint on the physical landscape and the collective memory of humanity.