Everyone in Hungary knows and loves Lake Balaton. Everyone expects something from Lake Balaton. Tourists wish for pleasant summers and clear water, local residents long for peace, the tourism industry craves for good income, the farmers require good crops and soil, fishermen fancy plenty of catch, while the investors desire the best return on investments. But what can we give Lake Balaton?
Who we are
In 2019, expert scientists of ecology, water management, and social sciences joined forces with artists to initiate the szabadonbalaton project. The name translates as “free Balaton” and expresses the intention and aspiration to let Lake Balaton exist freely, as a living natural system. We believe residents and tourists need to adapt to the lake instead of artificially adapting the lake to perceived human needs. The aim of our team is to establish research-based ecological art projects in order to raise public awareness and support decision-making related to the long-term ecological, social and economic sustainability of Lake Balaton.
What we do
Scientific literature on Lake Balaton is often difficult to understand for non-experts and even the most intriguing findings rarely reach wider audiences. The art events and environmental communication projects of szabadonbalaton attempt to make the state of our iconic lake more tangible to the public. We identify important environmental problems and issues related to Lake Balaton, compare them with the relevant scientific research, and then present them in a comprehensible format to the widest possible audiences. Our target group includes everyone who is connected to Lake Balaton in one way or another: those who swim in the lake, those who fish, who do business, farm, invest or are involved in decision-making.
Our vision about Lake Balaton
Lake Balaton and its surrounding area are of crucial importance for various stakeholders, where the interests of tourism, economy and nature conservation meet. It is a place for a growing number of investments, constructions and as such, human expectations, but paradoxically, we also want to preserve its natural values and (re)connect to its so-called pristine state. While from a societal and economical point of view the uses of the lake and the watershed areas are changing, the effects of climate change and urbanization are also becoming increasingly tangible in the ecosystem. We have to look for new solutions regarding the land use, based on thorough scientific research, but until then we need a change in perspective: we can not try and adapt the lake to our needs any more. It is just as important to adapt our expectations in order to understand and enable Lake Balaton to function as a natural living system.
szabadonbalaton uses research-based artistic practices. We do not consider mere data visualization of important findings about the ecosystem of Lake Balaton to be sufficient. Our public art projects aim to engage audiences and trigger a form of emotional connection and sensual experience related to the topics discussed. We do this when we present the nutrient load of the lake and its related ecological processes, the problem of algal blooms, the phenomena of macrophyte growth or sedimentation in the form of drinkable cocktails and edible dishes. The message thus works on several levels: people not only receive information but can also identify with the problem on a sensual level, and better relate to it.
We intend to achieve a change of attitude towards Lake Balaton at all decision-making levels, from the individual to the state administration. We are convinced that the management of Lake Balaton toward a functioning system of natural habitats also represents the ideal compromise between the interests of various groups related to Lake Balaton, so the most important basis for decisions related to the lake and its region is the knowledge of the natural processes of the lake and region. Through participation and engagement, we want to prepare all stakeholders for the consequences of climate change and commit them to shaping a sustainable future for Lake Balaton. We believe that the more people are able to learn about the important problems of Lake Balaton, the sooner the necessary changes will take place at the decision-making level.
DIÁNA BERECZ – cultural and visual anthropologist
DÁNIEL BOZZAI – graphic designer, creative social design
ÉVA BUBLA – artist-activist
BENCE FÜLÖP – vízgazdálkodási szakértő
BARNABÁS NEOGRÁDY-KISS – photographer
DR ÁGNES VÁRI – ecologist
DR ANDRÁS ZLINSZKY – ecologist
AU WORKSHOP / GERGELY OFNER / GUBAHÁMORI / CSILLA HÓDI / GÁBOR HUFNÁGEL / ZSÓFIA SZONJA ILLÉS / BARNABÁS KORBÉLY / BOGLÁRKA LUTZ / ANDRÁS MÉSZÁROS / MONOTON/MONOKROM / SZABOLCS NAGYFA / LEA NOVÁK / GERGELY SCHELL / MÁRIA SCHULLER / DÁVID SOMLÓ / JUDIT SZALIPSZKI / SVUNG / TILLMAN J. A. / ANNA TÜDŐS / DÉNES TÜREI / DÓRA VAJAS / DR. ANNA VARGA / BORBÁLA VÉRTESI / BOGLÁRKA ZELLEI
WHO HELP(ED) OUR WORK
MUNICIPALITY OF BALATONFENYES / DOROTTYA BALKÓ / DR. SÁNDOR BARANYA / DR. GERGELY BOROS / BUDAPEST AUTUMN FESTIVAL / ZSUZSANNA DEÁK / DR. TIBOR ERŐS / GIRO D’ITALIA NAGYRAJT 2022 / DR. GOND-BERTÓTI REGINA / KITTI GOSZTOLA / ALGYENES BEACH / DR. MÁRK HONTI / OLIVÉR HORVÁTH / RÉKA IMRE / REBEKA JUHÁSZ / ZOLTÁN KOCSIS / DR. SZABOLCS LENGYEL / HUNGARIAN YACHTING ASSOCIATION / MARGITNEGYED / MARKO MRKOBRAD / DR. LAJOS NAGY / NN ULTRABALATON / LEA NOVÁK / CARLOS PEREZ ROJAS / PLACCC FESTIVAL / SAJKOD BEACH / FREE BEACH OF SIÓFOK / ADRIENN TÖRŐCSIK
WHO SUPPORTED OUR PUBLICATIONS PROFESSIONALLY
INSTITUTE OF APPLIED AQUATIC SCIENCES / DIRECTORATE OF BALATON-FELVIDÉK NATIONAL PARK / BALATON LIMNOLOGICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE / MTA-BME WATER MANAGEMENT RESEARCH GROUP / GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF WATER MANAGEMENT