A one-metre-tall rainbow-coloured Black Lives Matter statue has been erected in Ferenc Square in Budapest’s 9th District. A tender was announced last August to have independent public works on the city streets again. A professional jury selected six works from the submitted entries, out of which four were exhibited today.
Needless to say, the project sparked serious anger in recent months. Some threatened to overthrow it, while others (such as the Our Homeland Movement) claim that it is an “anti-European, anti-white, anti-heterosexual, and anti-Christian symbol”.
According to the plans, the rainbow-coloured statue will be exhibited in Ferenc Square until April 14. It is one metre high and was created by Péter Szalay using 3D printing technology. The sculpture paraphrases the New York Statue of Liberty in a kneeling pose with a raised fist, referring to American footballer Colin Kaepernick’s gesture, which became a symbol of the anti-racist movement.
The professional jury evaluated the work of Péter Szalay as follows: “It is a paraphrase of a public memorial sculpture that surfaces current social and political issues: Black Lives Matter and prejudices about LGBTQ. The kneeling gesture of the sculpture also refers to the sculptural decision-making movements in the public space, so it also reflects the current situation of the work of art.
According to Telex, the idea came from the deputy mayor of the district because she wanted to put an end to the practice of making sculptures and other public works in Hungary only on political orders.
Krisztina Baranyi, the mayor of Ferencváros, previously told Euronews that she thinks it is important to set up the installation in Budapest because the BLM goals against racism and police brutality are as relevant in Hungary as anywhere else. As an example, she mentioned the Orbán government’s “relentless campaign” against migrants and refugees, as well as the systematic discrimination against the Roma in Hungary.
The Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, said in December that the Black Lives Matter in the United States is essentially a racist movement that does not recognise equality, which should be a normal human right by 20th century standards. Therefore, the racist is not the person who opposes the erection of such a statue but the one who erects the statue, Gulyás said.
The statue was only able to stand undisturbed for a few hours due to far-right protesters. According to Azonnali, protesters from Legion Hungary and Our Homeland simply boarded up the rainbow-coloured statue, so it could not even be seen.
Telex writes the statue was knocked down around half past eight in the morning, while the police were there in the square anyway because they were out on the scene all night. According to reports, the perpetrators did not want to run away from the police. The statue has been surrounded by police tapes.