Hungarian fashion photographer draws flak for ‘migrant chic’ shoot

  • AFP, Budapest
  • Updated: Oct 17, 2015 10:46 IST
A screengrab of one of the images of Norbert Baksa’s photoshoot, inspired by the European migrant crisis. The Hungarian photographer had to pull down the image from his website after widespread criticism on social media websites. (Twitter)

A fashion shoot that took its inspiration from the scenes of refugees and migrants desperately trying to reach Europe drew widespread fury on social media on Thursday, forcing the Hungarian photographer to pull the pictures from his website.

One picture in Norbert Baksa’s “Der Migrant” series shows a model sensually clad in a wide-open shirt and wearing a headscarf, posing for a selfie by a barbed-wire fence similar to the ones Hungary has erected on its borders to stop the migrant inflow.

Another image in black and white shows a woman glaring vacantly into the distance as she grips a section of the fence while sitting on the ground, wearing what appear to be suede knee-high boots and a glamorous black satin jacket.

“Disgusting & distasteful campaign,” Syrian freelance photographer Sima Diab wrote on Twitter.

“Art gone berserk,” tweeted Nigel Britto.

“Well now this is utterly sick,” wrote photographer Lewis Bush.

Faced with the criticism, Baksa, whose work has featured in Cosmopolitan, Elle and Playboy magazine, took the pictures down within 48 hours of posting them on his site.

In a statement on his Twitter account, the photographer appeared to accept the criticism. But he added that “the aim of the photo shooting was precisely to make people examine the situation from different angles and judge from different points of view”.

Speaking to AFP, Baksa had criticised what he said was the media’s “incomplete” coverage of Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War II.

“The situation is very ambiguous and we wanted to represent this ambiguity (by photographing) someone who is miserable but at the same time very beautiful, and who despite the situation owns good quality clothing and a smartphone,” he said.

The hostility of the Hungarian government towards hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war, persecution and poverty has drawn condemnation from the UN, several European countries and civil society groups.

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