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Hungarian photographer under fire over ‘migrant chic’ fashion shoot

Screen grab from Norbert Baksa website (norbertbaksa.prosite.com)

Hungarian photographer Norbert Baksa has sparked outrage with a series of pictures featuring a model depicted as a migrant amid a massive refugee crisis in Europe. Baksa has denied that his aim is to “glamourise” a desperate situation.

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Published on Barka’s professional blog, “DER MIGRANT” has faced an avalanche of criticism from Internet users who say the photos are insulting to people fleeing extreme violence and poverty.

In response, Barka said on Monday that his aim was not to offend refugees or anyone else, but to “rais[e] awareness” about the “complexity of the situation”.

It is easy to understand why some people are taking issue with the Hungarian photographer’s project.

In one frame, the scantily-clad model is shown taking a selfie with a Chanel mobile phone. In another, she sits with her legs splayed, holding an unappetising sandwich in her soot-covered hands.

Other props include floodlights, a menacing police officer and a barbed wire fence, one that immediately recalls the dangerous metal barrier put up by Hungary’s nationalist government in reaction to the influx of migrants in recent months.

“Remember Zoolander?” British film critic Simon Thompson said on Twitter in reference to the Ben Stiller comedy “NOT a parody, just sick: Der Migrant fashion shoot!”

Baksa has defended his fashion photos. “Artists around the world regularly attract the public’s attention to current problems through ‘shocking’ installations and pictures. This is another example of such art,” he wrote on his blog.

The pictures nevertheless appear more set on drawing attention to his model’s bare breasts than to the largest refugee crisis to hit Europe since World War II.

In his blog Baksa is careful not to take a stand, or comment on his government’s controversial policies toward migrants.

“I do not understand how people can take a clear stand while we are flooded with contradictory information through the media, so no one has extensive knowledge of the situation as a whole,” he wrote.

“It is very difficult to understand from the news coverage whether these people are indeed refugees or something else,” he added.

Baksa said the photos had only been published on social media websites, but that he was considering requests to publish the photos from “various countries”.

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