My work Color TV, Queen Beds, Exotik Dreams is about facing our own cultural heritage—through the world of Hungarian motels built during the regime change— and my personal self-definition.
Around 1989, the Hungarian nation experienced enormous political, economic and social change and, as a result, the whole nation experienced being in an in-between space, a liminal space: they had to grow up to handle problems never lived through before their generation. People experienced euphoria and excitement alongside fear and anxiety at the same time, as they did not know what the future might hold. Their escapism materialized as exotic dreams about Western trends, wealth, life and opportunities they might encounter. These special motels that I photographed genuinely preserve the atmosphere of the transformation from socialism into a democratic states’ unique era.
During the last year, something began to change in my life. I started to feel different, uncertain about my future, questioning things I was confident in before. I felt as if I lost the ground I stood on and was stuck between two doors—I did not know how to exit. Unexpectedly, I started to feel a strong relation and connection to those motels which I have been collecting and documenting for years. Their history and my uprootedness resonated: hopefulness and fearfulness was within me and the rooms at the same time.
The strong Eastern European tacky style of these places made me feel at home. Their cheap and DIY solutions, all the colors, materials and patterns—their desire to achieve a modern and luxurious look—reminded me of my roots, my childhood, all my weaknesses and strengths. The hotels also represented our traditions and visual culture. It made me think how the ‘American Dream’ is never going to happen, and how I will never be a Western girl with natural confidence. On the other hand, I have also realized the beauty in our collective melancholy, in our unbroken ingenuity, in our bitter humor. How can all the despised and tacky things become so loveable? How can we face them and forge strength out of them?
These special motels, which reflect the regime change, helped me deal with emotions and situations I never felt before, and they created the mental space I needed in order to understand a little bit better the times we live in; making this project was about relearning, redefining and accepting where we as people come from and where we are heading.