Roma Visual Lab 9. (2019)

MyStreet – History and Current Situation of Minor Images in Hungary

Keywords: MyStreet, minority image/minor media, participatory video, citizen journalism, private film

The central theme of the 2019 spring season of the Roma Image Studio was participatory and community filmmaking, which is related to such scientific fields as visual anthropology or autoethnography. The methodology of the research taking place in parallel with the film program had been worked out on the basis of participatory action research and digital storytelling. In compiling the program, we mainly focused on local and small community representation, which could manifest in artistic formats, take on a political function or work as citizen journalism. As a theoretical and practical framework of the program we relied on the MyStreet project, which had already been featured as a topic at the Roma Image Studio. Our goal was to explore using mainly (but not exclusively) videos of various lengths (quasi documentaries) how visual self-representation, which would qualify as minor in any respect, was represented in various fields of our rich cinematic culture, and if it was not, what the reason was for this deficiency. In addition to film, photography was also featured (as always throughout the history of the Roma Image Studio; in 2019, for instance, thanks to the photo school led by Gabriella Csoszó. The program had been prepared in the 2018 fall semester in the scope of a master’s course (Cultural Practices) at ELTE’s Department of Media and Communication. With the contribution of the students, we had compiled the specific program, conducted research related to each program element, compiled a list of reference literature and begun organising the program (contacting institutions and expert guests). One of the research projects at the Minor Media/Culture Research Centre established at ELTE’s Department of Media and Communication is the exploration and mapping of the history of participatory videography in Hungary, or in broader terms, the current situation of minority, participatory and art-based image production (minor media) and the development of a network based on this research. As the term “minor media” in the name of the research centre suggests, we endeavour to explore the role of participatory image production in the self-representation of minority communities. More specifically, we focus on the kind of alternative image production that could counterbalance the dominant images (circulating in public and commercial media). Our historical antecedents include private film and its artistic appropriations and interpretations (Gábor Bódy, Péter Tímár, Péter Forgács) as well as movements of self- and community representation in the intersection of the private and public sphere (Mass Observation, MyStreet, participatory media anthropologies) and the activity of civic video workshops in Hungary  (e.g. media schools, media workshops). The publicity of the research project was made possible by the Roma Image Studio’s six-part film program. Organised by the students of the Roma Image Studio university course, the program was open to all those interested.

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