szabadonbalaton (‘free Balaton’ refers to Hungary’s biggest lake, Lake Balaton, and its socially and ecologically conscious treatment) is a cultural platform using an ecological approach, reflecting on the natural-cultural landscape features and processes of the Balaton region, its sustainable and climate-adaptive landscape ecology. It integrates interventions from the field of ecology, art, social sciences, technology and economics.
The ecological art projects of szabadonbalaton draws attention to the ecological needs and risks of the Balaton region, and aims to transform public awareness and practices. In a cross-sectoral collaboration of artists, natural and social scientists (anthropologist, ecologist, water engineer), the projects reflect on the ecological and social aspects of Lake Balaton and raise awareness of local residents, tourists, and decision-makers. The ultimate objective of the platform is to create a sustainable vision for the lake and the region, which would mitigate the effects of climate change.
In the last 150 years, the coast of Lake Balaton has been greatly transformed and modified according to actual human needs, which resulted in numerous unsustainable practices and regulations of water management and urban development in the region. The ecosystem of the iconic lake therefore has been facing countless sustainability challenges, which are further affected by climate change. Human adaptation is essential for the maintenance and survival of a healthy Balaton ecosystem.
In 2019, two micro projects addressed various social groups involved in and related to Lake Balaton.
Szabadonbalaton debuted on the 51st Blue Ribbon long-distance regatta, where its participating sailboat named Hannibal served as the visual platform of the initiative. The boat carried the visual elements of the reed belt in order to raise awareness on one of the urgent problems of Lake Balaton: the destruction and disappearance of the coastal vegetation and reed beds. It aimed to shed light on the importance of these areas and their conservation.
All 600 participants of the race received brochures with detailed information about the scientific background of the project, at the same time they could place a sticker on their own sails to express their solidarity.
As a next step, the sailboat appeared in the local beaches of Lake Balaton to engage people in a multi-sensory experience. It turned into Hannibar and offered Balaton-specific drinks in order to taste and contemplate on processes like algae-bloom, reed die-back or mud formation, while the two versions of szabadonbalaton cocktail urged people to choose whether they wish to consume Balaton as a lake or a swimming pool.
The information material related to the events was approved by the CER Balaton Limnological Institute (BLI) and the General Directorate of Water Management.
In 2020, szabadonbalaton addresses the current issues related to the lake by deepening last year’s messages.
szabadonbalaton ALGABÁR 2020
As a continuation of the 2019 ecological art events, the algae bar of 2020 focuses on the issues of algal mass production (algae bloom) and sediment accumulation (mud formation). Beyond the mud and algae concept drinks suitable for human consumption, experimental “beach ball algae islands” demonstrate the stages of algae bloom taking a summer season as an example.
The information material related to the 2019 events was approved by the CER Balaton Limnological Institute (BLI) and the General Directorate of Water Management, while the 2020 one by the MTA-BME Water Management Research Group, the CER Balaton Limnological Institute (BLI), and the Applied Water Science Institute.