In 1993, something special began in Budapest: a flock of friends threw an alfresco extravaganza that attracted 43,000 revelers. A quarter-century later, this gathering is one of Europe’s major music festivals – every summer, Sziget attracts carousing crowds to the Island of Freedom, where speakers blast, drinks flow, amazing artists entertain, and too many beautifully bizarre scenes occur to capture in words. Fortunately, several Hungarian photographers captured Sziget’s captivating scenes over the past 24 years, creating fantastic photos that are now on display at Budapest’s Capa Center.
2017 marks an important date in the history of Budapest’s legendary Sziget Festival, as this amazing alfresco extravaganza turns 25 years old this year. For this reason, the Capa Center set up a dazzling display of fantastic photographs highlighting a quarter-century of Sziget celebrations, capturing quickly passing moments that characterize life on the Island of Freedom. Among the featured artists, award-winning Hungarian photographer Imre Benkő has been attending Sziget since the beginning to capture the unique “Sziget feeling” in its entirety with his analogue and panoramic cameras in beautiful black-and-white images. He not only captures moments, but peeks straight into the soul of Sziget, catching a moment of solitude in the crowd, the weary gaze of those exhausted by the preparations behind the scenes, and the thousands of variegated faces of the festival with deep humanism that is highly characteristic of his oeuvre.
The team of Rockstar Photographers – founded in 2012 – is a group of talented camera buffs who join forces in capturing the feels of the festivals while staying loyal to their individual styles. They combine official professionally posed photographs of moving masses and documentation of the plentiful programs with images of intimate moments that truly capture the heart and soul of Sziget Szitizens. They explore and scrutinize the wonderful visual world of the festivals, creating captivatingly colorful and vivid images that transport viewers to happy hippie times at the festival not only as spectators, but as part of something truly special, a loosely knit community full of unforgettable memories and mementos from 24 festivals, and with eager anticipation in their heart for the many more yet to come.
The exhibition was opened this week by the two founders of the festival, manager Károly Gerendai and musician Péter Sziámi Müller, while the popular Hungarian band Mary Popkids performed this year’s Sziget Hymn, “Love Solution”. Stepping inside, visitors can view a selection of black-and-white images by Imre Benkő that comprise 24 years of Sziget history between 1993 and 2016, while another room is dedicated to colorful, dynamic, and vibrant photographs taken by the team of Rockstar Photographers over the past four years. The photographs were taken on analogue, digital, panoramic, and drone cameras. The exhibition is on view between July 12th and August 31st at the Capa Center, and is a must-see for everyone who has cherished Sziget memories in their hearts, and for those who are yet to experience the amazingly special and extravagant atmosphere of Budapest’s biggest party – and during the 2017 Sziget Festival, this exhibition can be visited for free with a valid festival wristband.