The kneeling rainbow colored Statue of Liberty, a winning sculpture of the Ferencváros public art competition, is receiving threats of destruction before it has even been exhibited. Péter Szalay, designer of the work, says that he foresaw the backlash.
Budapest’s IX District, Ferencváros, recently held an art competition organized by Zsuzsanna Döme, mayor Krisztina Baranyai’s deputy and a politician of the satirical Two-Tailed Dog Party. The goal of the tender is to recreate the traditions of public art which she believes the government has overlooked. One of the winners of this competition, Péter Szalay’s kneeling Statue of Liberty sculpture, has sparked significant controversy. Many on the right believe this sculpture should not be put on display due to its support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and have threatened to destroy it.
Szalay: “No problem”
In an interview with Euronews, Szalay said that he is not surprised that many people in Hungary would wish to harm his statue. He has considered the positive connotations, and ultimately believes that the controversy will make the press more active around the subject of Black Lives Matter, his work, and the fine arts in general.
Szalay’s creation process for his winning project represents a new branch of sculpting. When asked about the process, Szalay responded that he has been working with a 3D modeling software for the past year. The finished kneeling product, therefore, is not sculpted from stone, but rather virtually rendered and 3D printed into multiple pieces of thermoplastic. The pieces, if damaged, can simply be replaced.
The multicolored layers assembled together to make the sculpture represent different printing stages, adding to the multilayered theme of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Given that the sculpture’s virtual model cannot be destroyed by an axe, it is understandable why Szalay is not worried about the violence his creation faces. In fact, he hopes that if it is destroyed, surveillance cameras will capture the footage, which can be used to send an even stronger message once the sculpture is reprinted.
The Two Viewpoints Clash
The sculpture has brought different responses from key individuals around Hungary. PMO Head Gergely Gulyás, believes that Black Lives Matter is a racist movement which does not recognize the equality between people of color and Caucasians. Gulyás believes that the racists are those who place statues in support of the movement, not the ones who destroy the statue.
Krisztina Baranyi, Mayor of Ferencváros, represents the opposing viewpoint. The opposition politician has stated that the statue represents issues which are as relevant to Hungary as anywhere else in the world. To support her claim, she referred to the Orbán government’s “relentless campaign” against migrants and refugees, as well as the systemic discrimination of Roma in Hungary.
Szalay’s creation, along with the other winners of the competition, is set to be exhibited around Ferencváros in April. Its chances of surviving the two-week display period without a scratch are, evidently, quite slim.
Featured photo illustration by MTI/EPA-KEYSTONE/Ennio Leanza