The Guest Worker 1979-1988
At the end of the 1970s Péter Korniss’ interest turned towards the weekly commuting workers. Gradually becoming redundant in agriculture, this significant layer of society found permanent work in towns, and returned home to their families in the village only for the weekend. At that time more than a quarter of a million people lived like this in Hungary.
This may seem to mark a change in Korniss’ œuvre, but in fact his sensitivity for social issues was already evident in his book Passing Times.
Korniss’s work on commuters started with photographing a brigade of unskilled workers from the village of Tiszaeszlár, which virtually offered him the basic themes: the peasant past, the urban work, the workers’ hostel, the family back home in the village and the weekly train journey. However, after a year and a half a member of the brigade, András Skarbit, commuting between Tiszaeszlár and Budapest, became the main character. As Korniss wrote in the book’s prologue, “However strange it may sound, the camera chose András Skarbit for itself”.
This decade of work was exhibited in the Hall of Arts, Budapest in 1988 and published in book form under the title The Guest Worker.