MOTHER MICHAEL GOES TO HEAVEN (2008-2010)

10 November, 2008
I met Michael and Monica four years ago while I started to take pictures of prostitutes. I can still remember the day I visited them in their flat in the Józsefváros neighbourhood of Budapest. After our first meeting we saw each other several times and regularly kept contact through phone. Then they disappeared for a while and only appeared a year later. They had many scandals in the house where they lived.
They decided to sell their old flat and move to another. They moved to a worse district but a bigger flat. It was an ugly block of flats in Budapest slums, but as the house was bigger nobody cared what the neighbours were doing. They called me and said they moved to a new, bigger flat. They started a new life – as they said. They wanted to show their new flat to me – and this is how our story started.

11 December, 2008
Michael called me on Saturday and told me that Monica is 17-week pregnant. She didn’t notice that she was pregnant. She didn’t even pay attention to the fact that 4 months passed without having a period. She had aches in her stomach, so she went to the doctor. The doctor told her the bad news.
“Do you have children Lilly?”
– Michael asked me.
“No, I don’t” – I answered.
“Don’t you want one?” – he asked.
Finally they could arrange to have the baby aborted with a special permission due to the fact that Monica’s pregnancy was too advanced. She had to stay in a hospital for a week while Michael was upset because of the lack of income.

22 August, 2009
Monica showed me her phone the other day. Her regular guests were saved in her phone as Michaels. Strangling Michael: who strangles Monica with her own bra: this is how he can have orgasm. Head standing Michael: who fucks Monica while she is standing on her head. Big gipsy Michael: “he is really smoky” – says Monica. There was a funny story when Monica was away in Germany. Big gipsy Michael was so desperate that he couldn’t find her that Michael decided to “replace” her and put on her clothes. He fucked with big gipsy Michael instead of Monica and even this illusion was better for big gipsy Michael than nothing. Small dick Michael: who gave Monica photocopied money. Monica nearly cried when she noticed the fake banknote. Deep throat Michael: who pushes his dick so deep in Monica’s throat that Monica can’t swallow for a while after. Flower Michael: a nice old man who always brings flowers to Monica whenever he visits her. Capital red letter Michael: a rich diplomat who works in the Ukraine and who always brings presents to Monica. She already got a kimono, a perfume, and an earring from him.

21 September, 2009
For an afternoon I had the adventure to be in “Monica’s shoes”. I dressed up as a prostitute, in her clothes and blond wig. Michael took pictures of me posing with Alexander and he couldn’t stop shouting: “Lilly, you could be a great whore! ”Something happened during that afternoon; this adventure brought us even closer to each other. The magic of costumes worked well.

27 December, 2009
At Xmas Eve Michael and Alexander had a huge fight. Jealousy was the reason of course. Alexander left him, he went to the park where he worked before, he smoked weed, drank and finally ended up in a shelter house for homeless people where he lost all his documents. Michael found him the next day and took him back home. They seemed to be in peace now. Monica hasn’t drunk for two weeks (she smokes weed instead). We were talking about sex and Andrea’s breasts (according to Michael it weighs six kilos). I got a nice Playboy pen set from them and I wished them a much better and peaceful year then the previous one was.

24 February 2010
Michael died on 24 February 2010. He committed suicide. He couldn’t live the life he had lived. He carefully planned his act. Nothing or nobody could bring him back from that decision – it became the answer and the relief from everything – and perhaps for him it was. But for those left behind apart from the loss it leaves a series of unanswerable questions. My friend David wrote me these lines when I told him about Michael’s death: “Your duty now is to show the work and go on doing what you do – again my old friend Sam says it all ‘I can’t go on, I’ll go on” – there is hopefully no other choice.”

Main Exhibitions (selected):

2018: Women in 3 Acts (Paz Errázuriz, Gluklya, Anastasia Khoroshilova, Ditte Lyngkaer Pedersen, Maya Schweizer, Lilla Szász), Gallery INDA, Budapest

2018: The Family of No Man (Group exhibition featuring 494 female and inter-gender artists), Arles Photo Festival, Cosmos Arles Books

2018: Women in 3 Acts (Paz Errázuriz, Gluklya, Ditte Lyngkaer Pedersen, Maya Schweizer, Katarina Šoškić, Lilla Szász), Galerie Fotohof, Salzburg

2017: The Way We See. An Overview of Hungarian Photography, National Museum in Warsaw

2013: Mother Michael Goes to Heaven, Gallery Liget, Budapest (solo exhibition)
2012: Photo Espana – From Here: a group exhibition with Richard Avedon, Richard Billingham and Paz Errazuriz– Museo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Photo Espana, 2012 – The exhibition won the Prize of the audience (El Premio del Publico, PHE 2012)

Publications (selected):

http://www.dazeddigital.com/art-photography/article/37808/1/lilla-szasz-intimate-photos-of-a-family-of-sex-workers-in-budapest

http://www.dazeddigital.com/art-photography/article/38103/1/the-only-photos-you-need-to-see-from-last-month-october-2017
http://index.hu/nagykep/2012/06/09/nagy_magyar_fotos_siker_madridban/
http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/06/07/ocio/1339071687.html
2012: FLASHART Magazine (July 30, 2012)
2012: La Lettre de la Photographie (April 28, 2012), Weekend portfolios by Christian Caujolle
2012: La Lettre de la Photographie (2 March, 2012), Book Review by Sara Rosen /
2010 missrosen.wordpress.com/2010/…/lilla-szasz-razors-edge/
2010 missrosen.wordpress.com/page/3/ -(lilla-szasz-mother michael goes to heaven