A Hungarian journalist has made the interesting and somewhat unfortunate decision to play tribal dress-up in order to raise awareness of secluded African tribes.
Only problem is, she’s not an African woman, and she hasn’t done a whole lot of the ‘raising awareness’ part of it.
The article was submitted by Balogh to the website Bored Panda through their public submission form. It has been viewed over 130,000 times.
As part of this work, she undertook a photo project with the help of a graphic designer, titled ‘I Morphed Myself Into Tribal Women To Raise Awareness Of Their Secluded Cultures’, which involved her appearing in a series of photographs dressed as women from seven tribes in Africa that “are at the brink of extinction”.
For some reason, Balogh felt the need to use herself in the photos despite using the actual African women from the tribes as templates for copying not only their dress, but oh yes, their skin colour as well.
Underneath each image showing Balogh in her natural state, then blacked up, and then the black woman she’s dressed up as, she added a brief description of the tribe she is impersonating. But that’s all folks.
There is no discussion of the social or political history that is creating change or leading to “extinction” or even a quote from anyone in the tribe.
In an update on Bored Panda, Balogh has written, “Since I had no intentions to offend anyone and yet I’m not able to answer to all of you, I’ve decided to delete my post.
“My intention was 100 per cent pure with this tribal art, being a human right lawyer and journalist who knows pretty much about racism and similar issues, I have never imagined that my work will annoy so many people and that I will have to explain myself. And sure, I will not do that. Keep calm and love every human.”
Website comments have been pretty much in the same boat as us – confused, appalled and scratching our heads profusely.
One commenter politely wrote, “Yikes. Totally get that people want to raise awareness and that’s great. Using blackface isn’t the way to do it though”.
Another woman claiming to be related to women in a number of the tribes wrote that she was “absolutely appalled at your nerve”.
“While we are out here being killed over our dark skins, being deemed inferior because of our cultures, you think being an African woman is a costume you get to put on and take off!”
We’ll leave this one right in the ‘nope’ basket.
Photos by Boglarka Balogh