Times Square Billboard Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Hungarian Revolution

“Our Revolution Was Not A Movie”

October 23, 2006 commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The Hungarian Cultural Center in New York celebrates this event with a billboard campaign in the heart of Times Square. Displayed from September to November 2006, two billboards with photographs by professional photographer Erich Lessing and amateur Hungarian photographer Jenő Kiss, display the phrase “Our Revolution Was Not A Movie”. They deliver a message that the revolution in Hungary had global significance and that the country is still proud of this historic event. The billboard presents history-as-advertisement, presenting provocative images in a commercial format that both tries to sell history as sexy and relevant while critiquing its own agenda. But perhaps most importantly, these poignant photos and the message they carry portray the notions of courage and democratic freedom.

What is the relevancy of revolutionary ideas in 2006? Can mass movements lead to positive social change anymore? This past June President Bush traveled to Hungary to speak about ’56; his visit touched on what the role of the West can or should be in popular uprisings in other nations and the different ways the concept of ‘freedom’ is viewed. Although the ’56 Revolution took place in Hungary, the repercussions transcended time and place. It is often viewed in the context of the Cold War, which in some aspects confines the realities of the Revolution. However, the intention of the billboard and the surrounding programming is to bring this historical event—its ideas and feelings, and the philosophical investigation of revolution—to the doorstep of the American public.

We hope that the Times Square billboard campaign promotes dialogue and inquiry around a sometimes forgotten but nonetheless important historic occurrence.

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