Sándor Herpai, István Lerch, Ferenc Demjén and János Menyhárt of rock band V’Moto-Rock at Klauzál Square, Budapest, in 1981. Photo Fortepan, Tamás Urbán

Weekly Fortepan – The fashion of resistance

Blue jeans acid-washed in bathtubs, etc – anything but mass-produced items!

Fashion has been a favourite topic of discussion even back in Socialist times when bold dreams met a rather modest reality and modest means compared to the present or to the Western world. However, in spite of the fact that there was hardly anything to buy, or perhaps because of it, we are sometimes pleasantly surprised by the stylish and original outfits of the people in the photos taken in the years of shortage economy.

The above is the introduction to the latest article in the English-language blog by the Fortepan online repository of Hungarian photographs, and the full text with many more photos can be seen at https://hetifortepan.capacenter.hu/en/alternative-fashion/ The full headline is “The Fashion of Resistance. Blue Jeans Acid Washed in the Bathtub, Haversacks, and “Alföldi” Slippers – Anything but Mass-Produced Items!”

The Fortepan digital archive collects and shares Hungarian photographs taken from 1900 to 1990, and currently contains 156,000 pictures. The collection, which does not exist in physical form, was launched in 2010. The archive comes under a Creative Commons licence and the richly illustrated series of articles is free for anyone to use, with due credit.

Fortepan now has an English edition of its weekly blog Heti Fortepan. The latter, in Hungarian, was launched in 2020 in professional partnership with the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center. The English-language Weekly Fortepan will be a selection of the Heti Fortepan series. Twice a month an article in English is being published at hetifortepan.capacenter.hu/en. The earlier articles can also be seen at this link.

On the left János Kilián, guitarist of the punk band Modell “S” in 1982. Photo Fortepan, Tamás Urbán

The archive, which is mainly supported by donations, is run by 10-15 editors working on a voluntary basis, and they try to decipher the content of the images on the FortePan megfejtések forum.

The collection is based on 5000 images collected since the 1980s from Budapest junk clearances. Over the past decade more than 700 donors have offered their photographs to the archive. At first it was mainly families but later photo documentation from companies and professional photographers also found their way onto Fortepan.

Fortepan volunteers simply digitise the images and return them to the donors. Fortepan is an edited archive, and about a third of the images received are uploaded, with editor Miklós Tamási looking for the “meaningful” ones.

The outdoor stadium called Kisstadion (Small stadium) on Istvánmezei Road in Budapest in 1974. Photo Fortepan, Tamás Urbán

The archive is named after the Fortepan negative film produced by the former Forte factory in Vác, which was very popular in Hungary. The blog is edited by Tamási and István Virágvölgyi, curator of the Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center.

If you have a family photo to share with Fortepan, please contact fortepan@gmail.com

Those who could not get in to the party on the closing day of the Buda Youth Park in 1984. Photo Fortepan, Tamás Urbán


Robert Capa Contemporary Photography Center

Nagymező utca 8, District VI, Budapest

Website: https://capacenter.hu/en/

Email: info@capacenter.hu

Tel.: (06-1) 413-1310

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