Simon Móricz-Sabján

Mud Country

The number of dirt roads is amazingly high in Hungary. Many people live habitually and inevitably along dirt roads in the rural of Bács Kiskun, Békés and Csongrád counties. While in Western Europe 96 percent of public roads are paved, this ratio in Hungary is only 38 percent. The difference is even greater in rural areas. The village of Csanytelek in Csongrád county is situated by the river Tisza. More than third of the population lives along dirt roads. In rainy weather the ground alongside the river becomes completely impassable. Just like in other settlements similar to Csanytelek, not only is it impossible for the ambulance to reach a patient with a heart attack within 15 minutes, it is virtually beyond any chance to find a tractor that could tow the ambulance to the patient. Depopulated boonies, migration and the spreading of poverty characterize “Mud Country”.
According to data released by the European Commission, one in every three Hungarians, that is 3,3 million people live in poverty. 1,2 million of them must endure extreme poverty, which is an extraordinarily high number for a country with a population of 9.9 million.

This essay was Shortlisted for the EPF 2016




Simon Móricz-Sabján was born in Kiskunhalas, Hungary in 1980. He has been the press photographer of Népszabadság, the largest Hungarian political daily newspaper since 2003. He has received numerous honors for his photography: first price at the China International Press Photo Contest on two occasions, second prize in the Feature Picture Story category of 73rd POYi competition and Honorable Mention at the NPPA Best of Photojournalism competition. 27-times award winner at the Hungarian Press Photo competition, including the Grand Prize, the Márton Munkácsi award for the best collection on four occasions, the best photojournalist under 30 on three occasions and the Károly Escher award for the best news photo on two occasions, as well as several other recognitions abroad and in Hungary. Three times winner of József Pécsi scholarship, and he received the Károly Hemzo Prize in 2015.


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Simon Móricz-Sabján

6 thoughts on “Simon Móricz-Sabján – Mud Country”

  1. I fully echo what harry says. Three dimensional images that bring the realities of rural living amongst the poorer fully into view, and without artifice or sentimentality.
    Two observations.
    The opening image seems somewhat incongruous although i do see how it serves as an opener for the essay more effectively than any of the main body images would.
    The whole piece is strong and well presented and just really good work, but does not have any strong ‘signature’. maybe this was reflected in its final position by the esteemed panel.

    Nice work Simon.

  2. Fantastic essay. I was especially struck by the image of the pig slaughtering – how you caught that moment when the pig, however unhappy it may have been with situation, seems to have accepted death as the natural, inevitable thing that it is.

    The mud – reminds me of South Dakota. “Gumbo” they called it.

  3. reminds me of my beloved Krasznakhorkai novels “Satantango” and “The Melancholy of Resistance’…and of course my beloved Bela Tarr films …especially Satantango (for me the greatest film of the last 30 years)…..read the books…watch the films :)

    well done, congrats :)

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