During heatwaves, people flee the cities for the waterfront. But the water level of the 592 km2 lake is also constantly falling. In May, the average lake level was 105 cm, now it is only 74 cm.

Silent sky, roaring lands

In the year of two thousand and twenty-two, months of extreme drought hit much of Europe, including Hungary. Most of the irrigation canals, reservoirs and lakes in the Great Plain have dried up and the water levels of the country´s two largest lakes, the "Balaton" and the "Velencei"; lake, are still falling. Both the wildlife and the living conditions of the people living here have changed radically. Many farmers have been unable to irrigate their fields and have been forced to harvest their crops prematurely if they had any left. Maize and sunflower crops in the Great Plain and large parts of Central Hungary were destroyed and wheat yields were only a fraction of the average. Livestock farmers are unable to graze their animals and mow on the grasslands, while the price of fodder has tripled, so those who have not yet gone bankrupt have decided to liquidate their herds. For most of them, there is no alternative, as they have been doing this all their lives, symbiosis with the land and their animals... These changes and their consequences, windstorms, wind erosion, heat waves, fires, are already having a negative impact on our transport, health and food supply systems worldwide. And in the summer of this year, several heat waves hit the region and Hungary. Fully parched grasslands, forests and scrublands increase the potential for fires. The area burnt in Hungary has increased tenfold compared to last year, with 54% of fires affected agriculture. Persistent heat waves are extremely stressful for people living in urban areas, especially the elderly, young children and people with cardiovascular diseases, causing extreme stress on the human body. Researchers say that unless we act now, these deadly climatic conditions could become the norm by the end of the century and according to the average climate scenarios (REMO-ECHAM5), two thirds area of Hungary will become semi-desert between 2050 and 2100.

Zsolt Balázs

free photographer
As an independent artist photographer his most important angle is that of humanity and objectivity, which he raises above all political and economical interests. His work is most characterized by the styles of autonomous photoreport and documentarism. His main subject matter consists of examining contemporary human relations, mostly in connection with taut situations in conflict zones. In these, the impact of authorities’ decisions and the consequences the tense circumstances have on people’s lives both become very obvious. His projects mostly center around disregarded, vulnerable communities and people. During long-term photo-projects he has been examining the direct and indirect effects of the border closures, border fences and blockades; but he also reflects on his more immediate surroundings and even his own life. The completed projects are featured in publications, at exhibitions and in photo albums. In the photo series titled ‘Southern Ends’ he explores the long-term effects of the Hungarian southern border closure and the untreated migration crisis along the Hungarian-Serbian border, indicating traces of a possible future conflict. In the series ‘Leftovers of Eden’ he presents the aftermath of the historical Cyprian Greek-Turkish conflict, examining the possibility of cross-border collaboration to find the people that had gone missing during the clashes. He completed the Nikon-NOOR Masterclass in 2018, and received his master diploma in creative photography at Szellemkép Szabadiskola. In 2019 and 2020 he received a grant from the National Cultural Fund of Hungary to support completing his project ‘The Leftovers of Eden’. Member of the Association of Hungarian Photographers since 2019 and Member of the Association of Hungarian Journalists (independent) since 2022. After that he returned to an important location of his childhood - the banks of a creek - and through examining its environment (Rákos-patak), he reflected on the questions related to our contemporary existential insecurities, such as beliefs, habitat, home, well-being. The title of the series is ‘Creekside Country’. The current series he is working on explores the effects of climate change in Hungary on the environment and through it on people's lives (work title: prelude of a water crises). Highlighted results 2019 / Helsinki Photo Festival - finalist with “Nothing Special” series / National Cultural Foundation: The Leftovers of Eden (Cyprus) - 1st year scholarship 2019 / National Cultural Foundation: The Leftovers of Eden (Cyprus) - 2nd year scholarship 2020 / Human Right Pulse Publication: Southern Ends 2020 / Modem: Modern and Contemporary Arts Centre - Deep Flows - group exhibition 2021 / Picture of lights - National PhotoSalon, Műcsarnok / Kunsthalle 2022 / Selected to the Rotterdam Photo Festival 2022 - The Human blueprint - Creekside Country, individual exhibition