Hungarian artist Peter Szalay has been at the center of a controversy in Hungary after right-wing factions in the country say his latest sculpture invokes “incitement and hatred against whites and Christians.”
The three-foot-tall sculpture depicts the Statue of Liberty taking a knee, with a fist in the air, and a tablet in her other hand that reads, “Black Lives Matter.” The entire 3-D printed sculpture, “PRISM” is rainbow patterned.
Although it has yet to go on display, the right-wing government and media have lost it over images of the sculpture, and now its future is in peril.
Gergely Gulyas, a Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office called the Black Lives Matter movement “fundamentally racist” and said “it's not the ones who oppose a statue to BLM that are racist but the ones erecting it."
The Hungarian media has been even more harsh, with one commentator comparing the art to sculpting a statue of Hitler. Another commentator on Origo, Hungary’s largest government-related online news site, said the sculpture was the start of “incitement and hatred against whites and Christians” in the country.
Szalay’s sculpture was one of seven works of art selected by a jury of artists and critics and commissioned by Budapest’s ninth district, where the art will be on public display for two weeks this April.
Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of the district where the sculpture will be displayed has received rape and acid attack threats because of her support for the piece of art. But she still stands by her decision to commission the art exhibit. “All we wanted was to give young Hungarian artists a chance to show their art in public,” she said.
The artist just wants to be able to make art. “My artistic intention was to deal with the Black Lives Matter movement as a phenomenon having tremendous impact on contemporary global society, which I am also part of," Szalay said. He also made the sculpture rainbow to comment on Hungary’s excessive anti-LGBTQ+ laws that ban same sex couples from adopting and trans people from changing their gender.
Szalay believes there’s a chance his sculpture might be destroyed by angry protestors, but he’s not letting that get him down. "I do not judge those who want to tear my sculpture down,” he said. “If it happens, I will document it and consider it as part of the work."