Color–blind and Color–coded Racism:

Angela Davis, the New Left in Hungary, and “Acting Images”

in: Artmargins Special Issue on Art and Race in Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe. by ARTMargins Online Editorial Collective

This analysis of the “acting images” of Angela Davis appropriated by the New Left in Hungary has shown the divergence inherent in ideological and visual representation, and how it can lay bare different forms of racism. On the one hand, we have “Angela Davis in color”: color–coded, with her racialized image exoticized, revealing inherent racism (and sexism). On the other, we have “Davis in black and white”: negating color, being color–blind on the racisms that target socially vulnerable parts of (Hungarian) society. But these two images of Davis also act autonomously in both examples, overwriting their creators’ ideological intentions and unveiling inherent structural racisms. The consequences of these structural racisms are still felt (not only) in Hungary today, where images of “otherness” are instrumentalized by right-wing, xenophobic, racist anti–migration state–propaganda once again. But this time, not in the name of solidarity, but fostering racism in the name of the “saviours” of so-called “European, Christian values”—giving Angela Davis` slogan renewed relevance also in Eastern Europe: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist.”