30 March 2020

The Symbols of Post-communism In Contemporary Hungary

30 March 2020 - Written by PhMuseum

Through the crafting of metaphorical images, Tomoya Imamura deconstructs the modern cultural and social make-up of Hungary and creates a link with its socialist heritage.

Twenty-some years ago the Iron Curtain dropped and there were high hopes for the future of Hungary, my mother‘s homeland and also mine if I had to choose.

This work is called “Petőfi‘s Corpse“. It is a humble approach to describing the Hungarian present in its post-communist state, including all the symptoms that come with it. A history from the perspective of the losers has shaped the country‘s identity, paving the way for nationalism which promises a golden past that nobody could possibly remember. Through a combination of documentary and staging, this work tries to show the right-wings reinvention of the country's past as it pushes forward into everyday life. Historical symbols and eastern European clichés are represented by white paper mache-elements, that work as left-out or burned-out holes in the pictures.

Petőfi is the „national poet“ of the Hungarian Revolution against the Austrian Empire 1848. He was probably killed by a Russian Soldier while fleeing battle, which would work against his famous call for a „heroes death“ in the protection of the homeland, but his death remains a mystery to this day. The uncertainty and pathos around his death led me to the title for this series. Another important symbol is the 1kg-loaf of bread. It is a standardized remnant of socialism, but also draws a parallel to the "body of Christ“ and the religious aspects of the right-wing-movement, as well as "Petőfi‘s Corpse" in its national sainthood.

I myself was born in Germany to a Hungarian mother and Japanese father. In the best case, this grants me the necessary distance for such work, while my Hungarian language skills and contacts provide me with equally important access and knowledge.

Words and Pictures by Tomoya Imamura.


Tomoya Imamura (*1991 in Duisburg) is a Hungarian-Japanese photographer and designer from Germany. He graduated from the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen. His work combines a documentary approach with staged imagery, mostly around the topic of ideology and the right-wing movement in Europe. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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