Counterculture by the lake

27/Mar/2015 - 31/Aug/2015
It is the law of the universe that what you can name, you can handle - can feel your own - and thus have no need to fear. This is true not only for objects, but also people, even children.

Between 1938 and 1978, a dedicated pedagogue named Eszter Leveleki oversaw an unusual children's summer camp at a location 60 km from Budapest, in the Nógrád County community of Bánk. Over the span of four decades, this operation hosted a total of over eight hundred children, whose days at the lake would generate a wealth of memories recorded in the form of diaries, photographs, and other documentary paraphernalia. Today, the phrase "summers in Bánk" has risen to the status of a concept - a mental amalgamation of people, games, traditions, nicknames, friendships, location, and - perhaps most importantly - a personality type and state of being participants dubbed "klassz", meaning "cool": a special brand of "cool" found only in Bánk.

The four decades of summers in Bánk witnessed a succession of four separate eras, both in the history of Hungary - the Interwar period, the Second World War, the age of Stalinism, and the Kádár era - and the life of the camp - the entrance onto the market of modern educational opportunities; the founding, expansion, and golden age of Pipecland; closure; and, finally, the reign of heirs and successors. The traditions and customs that would become the hallmark of a vacation in Bánk - the games, heroes, mythology, "serious" games, and accompanying symbolism and material culture - were developed early on. Together, these would compose the world of an entire string of original, creative, courageous, extroverted children and teens who would come to think about life in terms of community; whose democratic lakeside land of play was at once real and imaginary, ingenious and wild, binding and exclusive, finite and everlasting; in short, very, very "cool".

Curator: Zsófia Frazon