Shortlisted for this year’s Aesthetica Art Prize, Noémi Varga works between London and Budapest, experimenting with documentary filmmaking to show how socio-political structures influence individual’s perception of happiness and fulfilment. The Happiest Barrack draws on the conventions of cinematic storytelling, recounting Varga’s maternal grandmother’s personal tale of life and love within soviet, socialist Hungry.
Leading viewers through a domestic setting, an accompanying monologue illuminates the space, narrated in the filmmaker’s mother tongue. The chronological discourse works as a memento to an otherwise forgotten story, highlighting the importance of memory, history and freedom.
The documentary element is presented through the audio, which is married to arresting and deeply emotive visuals in order to add universal layer to a very personal story. It serves as a memento of times past and as a reminder of how Soviet socialism colonised the souls of a generation.
Hosted by Aesthetica Magazine, the Aesthetica Art Prize is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world. It offers both emerging and established artists the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience, and further their engagement with the international art world. From personal to universal ideas, the selections hold a mirror to society, exploring wider themes prevalent in today’s globalised, digitalised world.
The film features in this year’s Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition, presented by York Art Gallery from 18 May until 30 September. Find out more here.
1. Noémi Varga, The Happiest Barrack, 2017