Hilda’s Bar


3 prints on Hahnemühle Photo Matt Fibre (70x100cm, 25x40cm)

Documentation photos: Nayara Leite

In May 2022, I undertook a residency at Ways in Gyula, Hungary, together with artists Tine Adler, Sigrid Lerche and Derek Sargent. Ways is a queer feminist art residency founded to establish a space in eastern Europe where queer artists can work, rest, and create in an environment that isn’t a traditional location for queer artistic production. The residency culminated in the group show Ways, which took place at Isotop, Bergen, in September 2022.

Jess Miley, who runs Ways, created a queer bar within the residency. The bar is called Hilda, a space where the artists can socialise and feel safe as queer people in a small Hungarian rural town.

Hilda’s Bar is my response to the time I spent at Ways, making radlers, eating crisps, brainstorming and interacting with the other artists. It is also a way of subtly defying the homophobic and authoritarian regime of Viktor Órban by showing that, despite his attempt to silence the queer community, we will continue to exist and fight back. The way that we can.

Here’s an excerpt from the exhibition text that summarises the situation in Hungary:

Hungary currently is under a proto-fascist regime limiting freedom of expression, and queer people are increasingly coming under threat from the state. In 2018, Hungary banned the Central European University from Budapest because CEU had a gender studies department. In 2021, the Hungarian parliament passed the ‘family protection act’ effectively prohibiting any discussion or representation of queerness that could come in contact with anyone under the age of eighteen. Queer spaces in Hungary are limited and under a constant state of hostility. As queer artists, we have personally experienced and observed how dominant systems influence what stories are privileged over others.

This project has been supported by Kulturrådet and Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond.

All content by ©2024 Nayara Leite