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Heritage Contact Zone (HCZ) is an EU-funded project in the frame of the European Year for Cultural Heritage. In the two years of the project (September 2018 – August 2020) HCZ investigates the potential of heritage spaces for creative processes and dialogue. HCZ especially focusses on contested, neglected or marginalised heritage with exhibitions, workshops and a toolkit. It discusses challenging innovative and inclusive heritage representation, using heritage as a space for dialogue and constructive conflict. This website brings together the outcomes of the project.

Dear friends and visitors of our project,

The Corona crisis has hit all sectors of our societies and especially the cultural and creative sectors and the field of heritage. Whilst we experience a shift to the digital in an unprecedented speed a lot of issues remain worrisome: the economic situation of institutions and individuals in our fields has been precarious for quite a while now and with the pandemic it has become straight-out devastating. Although online activities offer possibilities to meet, discuss and decide on burning questions, the real encounter, the element of surprise, creativity and the playful und unexpected of the physical interaction is dearly missed. At the basis of our project lies the assumption that marginalised, neglected or contested heritage needs communities to meet and creatively deconstruct and reconstruct memories. We will keep addressing this challenge also in times of Corona.

The coming months will strive to realise this goal in a world of physical distancing. The European Commission has granted our project an extension until 15 December (to be clear: not a bigger budget, just more time), which will allow us to test new forms of achieving our goals. The toolkit that this project has developed is expected online any moment and in the coming months we will test its impact in workshops and small pilot projects. Those may be completely online or in blended forms of small group gatherings that take into account all measures of distance and hygiene to safeguard the health of our communities and still meet and interact.  Most of these workshops will happen in a protected and confidential environment, but documentation will be made available on this website afterwards.

The international conference that was planned in conjunction with Culture Action Europe’s annual Beyond the Obvious conference in June 2020 in Brussels, is postponed to November 2020 and its form, probably hybrid, is being discussed and developed at the moment.

We invite you to browse through this website and discover the diverse activities that this project has realised in the last two years and especially to use the toolkit, which digests the learning of this period into hopefully useful building blocks for your own work. We will be grateful for any feedback that helps us improve and any ideas for our future work. We hope to see you online or life at our activities to come.

Lars Ebert and Joachim Umlauf

Each of the following 5 objects are exemplary for many more that have been collected at the 5 local exhibitions of Heritage Contact Zone. You can find the others in the exhibition part of the website. We use each of them to show the different thematic and methodological approaches.





These stirrups are from the 17th century and were used by the main character of the historic story of Jan Struys who travelled from Amsterdam, to Russland and Iran. The question was: how can historic objects and stories be interpreted today by contemporary artists and how do those challenge the viewers cultural perspectives and prejudices?




During seven days of preparation, 50 objects were collected and transformed into fictional Bauhaus artefacts. The transformation process took place visually, aesthetically, but also conceptually.

The little ceramic sculpture of a boy was found by the owner on a flea market. The figure misses its head, one arm and one leg. The owner told that she used to have a special kind of affection towards the esthetics of fragmented and atypical bodies. 100 years ago, when the Bauhaus school was founded, handicaps were perceived very differently in society than today and people with disabilities kept hidden from the public. As today we can celebrate diversity and our differences – symbolized by the monument created underneath and around the boy’s figure, in a similar way new technology, innovation and progress was highlighted through the Bauhaus designs





The Living Memorial discussion group is a member of Human Platform, an association gathering several civil organisations in the field of culture, education, art and social care.

“The Living Memorial” is a protest memorial facing the history-falsifying memorial erected by the Orbán-government on Szabadság tér (Liberty square) in downtown Budapest in 2014. On December 31st, 2013 it was announced in a short newspaper article that the government commissioned a memorial to be built on Liberty Square. It was to commemorate the German occupation of Hungary (19th March 1944), claiming that Hungary and the Hungarians were victims during WWII. There was no tender for artists, no public competition.
[expander_maker id=”1″ more=”Read more” less=”Read less”]The news was received by public indignation. In 1944, about 450 000 Hungarian Jews were brought to Auschwitz or other concentration camps and only a few survived. The deportation was organised with the active participation of the Hungarian state and its institutions.

Activists of the Living Memorial civil group organized a flash mob next to the future monument, and asked citizens to bring personal objects to the site on 23rd March 2014. A large crowd gathered, and people shared the story of their objects with each other. Two white chairs were put in the middle of the site symbolizing the dialogue between the people.

The Living Memorial was imagined and brought to life by a small group of activists (artists, art historians, sociologists and other intellectuals) mobilizing the public opinion against the false propaganda of the official memorial, which aims to absolve the Hungarian state from its heavy responsibility in the Holocaust. Although, the planned official monument (the Dead memorial, as activists call it), has been built, due to the strong protest movements, it has never been inaugurated, no official ever came to the site. At the end, the government felt obliged to change its name to The Monument to commemorate the victims of the German occupation.

The Living Memorial, the one that keeps the real memory of the suffering is constituted of objects of personal memory placed on the square by inhabitants of Budapest or people coming even from abroad, for reminding the passers-by of the victims of the Holocaust and the role of the state in their fate.

But the Living Memorial, is more than that: The protest movement is symbolized by two white chairs because the Living Memorial also provides the site for public discussions: its activists believe that Hungarian people must engage in a real memory work of their history without keeping certain facts in silence. This aim is realized through open public discussions close to the spot of the Living Memorial organized in the afternoons. The topics of the discussions vary from Holocaust memories, family histories, to various social problems, including the education system, health care, the biased electoral system, the social housing system, social inequalities, the problems of the Roma, the role of cultural institutions, etc. Anybody can join in the discussions, take a seat on the dozens of white chairs set up in a big circle and take the microphone. The discussions are recorded and archived. A special system of moderation has been elaborated and is used for ensuring a peaceful course for the debates. During the years, more and more white chairs have been supplied and until today the activists have organized more than 600 discussions with the public.







Most refugees embark on tiny boats rather than seagoing vessels in their hope to find refuge in continental Europe. “I watch the tourists swimming in the sea and I remember our children drowning in the Aegean.” The colour of the toy boat is reminiscent of the colour of naval life-jackets. At the same time, it actually is a toy; a toy European children play with at the beaches of the Mediterranean during a happy vacation.
The workshop participants chose this particular boat to highlight a clash of experiences which continues to have vastly different impacts on refugees and Europeans respectively. Not only have the refugees lost loved-ones and their homes because of war and conflict; but on the last part of their journey they are forced to take the dangerous sea-route to Europe which has been fortifying itself against all international legal norms of refugee protection.





In the beginning everyone wanted to have it, in the end everybody wanted to get rid of it. The most spectacular way to do it was to set it on fire in public. The communist party members had priority when it came to advance in their work place; a communist party member would get a passport/the right to travel easier; a communist party member.

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