Jani Leinonen’s Hunger King draws attention around Europe

hungerkingHunger King, in the commercial city centre of Budapest, gives out burger boxes full of money for people in need for three weeks. The boxes contain the sum of Hungarian state’s minimum wage. For its wealthy customers Hunger King offers a red carpet fast lane and art pieces for sale. After the change of the Hungarian constitution in 2013, the homeless are punished for using “public space as a habitual dwelling.”

In his statement Leinonen says that by setting out the Hunger King and giving out our products, we enable homeless people to camp there without being taken away or punished. Looks like capitalism has more generous rules than humanism has. Accompanying website similarly divides visitors into rich and poor on arrival. The visitors may also send mass statements to Hungarian Government’s public Twitter accounts. Leinonen’s installation is a part of culture institute Finnagora’s project Luukku Atelier where three Finnish artists discuss social issues through their art in a Budapest pop up art space.

In Jani Leinonen’s works consumerism, popular culture and multi-national corporations are brought under scrutiny through public manifestations. Iconic images are served with a twist, and the initial humour serves as a catalyst in the grim awakening to the social problems of today. In Food Liberation Army (2011) a Ronald McDonald statue stolen from a Helsinki restaurant ends up being executed in an al-Qaeda YouTube video.

Hunger King, Hajos Utca 12, Budapest from 11 June until 6 July.


The Guardian: Hunger King: the artwork highlighting the plight of Hungary’s homeless

The Huffington Post: ‘Hunger King’ Exhibit Mocks Fast Food To Expose Global Gap Between Rich And Poor

Metro: Hunger King, un faux Burger King qui dénonce la politique économique

Vice: ‘Hunger King’ Art Installation Gives Cash to the Homeless