I had many awesome, some mixed/ambiguous and a few awful experiences while in Budapest last month. The Invisible Exhibition was one of the best of the good ones and I’d love to share some insights here.
Invisible Exhibition website
This is a continuous exhibition that aims to show you what the world of the blind looks like. Yes, I’m deliberately mixing my metaphors/words! Amongst other things the exhibition makes you aware just how much of our language is imbued with the idea of seeing, we are a visual species but with a sizeable component of blind citizens.
I got a taste of their world in 2 hours…
Once you have entered the exhibiton you realise that instead of a blindfold you have entered a place so dark you are effectively blinded… your eyes are free but you cannot see anything at all, you are in total darkness. Your guide, who is blind, leads you through several rooms. The tables have turned: outside you were sure of your world and the blind man in front of you was looking unsure, inside your blind guide is utterly comfortable and at home while you are disoriented and without reference points.
My guide was a wonderfully funny, smart and beautiful man who was endlessly encouraging, gentle and informative.
The rooms are small enough not to get lost but large enough to accommodate 8-10 participants. You are guided by touch and sound, and occasionally smell. Making out objects, orienting yourself and not getting hurt is much harder than you’d think! Bumping into each other is unavoidable and your relationship to your body and that of others changes. Every moment our blind guide knew exactly where everyone was and what everyone was doing! It took me a while to work up some courage and freely wonder, letting go of anxieties about hurting myself or getting lost. Eventually I felt quite free and even managed to order a drink and pay for it in the ‘blind bar’ at the end!
Asked lots of questions about blind culture and got very informative, funny, sensitive and sometimes surprising answers. I may still only have a limited idea of what the world of the blind is like, but I definitely have more of a feel for it and will know how to relate to blind people better. Awesome revelations!!
After the exhibition I chatted with my guide Szabolcs, who is a lawyer by occupation, and met his current Labrador guide dog (photo!). I was so grateful for his patience and insights and the opportunity to learn so much more about not only blind life but about my own preconceptions and ways of relating my senses and my idea of reality.
If you are in Hungary I strongly recommend that you go along!! (there are even English speaking guides on request) Do book ahead online. It took me 3 goes to find the place and get in but it was sooo worth it!
Additional events include a blind dinner, blind conversations, blind drawing competition and massage. I didn’t make it to these, but maybe you can.
Two new links (in Hungarian):
Semmit a szemnek