The image that won’t go away

A photo taken in 1985 has resurfaced this week. Kelly Grovier looks at the power of a figure pushed to breaking point.

Some images never go out of date. They remain endlessly urgent. Where most viral photos enjoy a fleeting flash of fame, flaring up like a rash across social media, there is a cache of imperishable images that have lingered longer and strike a deeper chord. They stay forever part of the mind’s permanent collection of archetypal signs.

Predating by decades the instant-reaction platforms of Facebook and Twitter, an edgy image captured on the streets of Växjö, Sweden in April 1985 during a demonstration by the Neo-Nazi Nordic Reich Party succeeded (without today’s propulsive power of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’) to imprint itself on the cultural consciousness. Snapped at the instant when a Polish-Swedish passerby, whose mother had reportedly been sent to a Nazi concentration camp, could no longer contain her irritation at having to share civic space with fascists, the black-and-white photo of Danuta Danielsson clocking a Neo-Nazi with her handbag continues to resonate for many as a silent rallying cry.

Over the past few weeks, amid a spate of protests in America and throughout Europe in response to the outcome of elections and referenda, the image of the 38-year-old Danielsson lashing out in full swat has experienced a fresh resurgence, accompanied by the call to arms: “Be the woman hitting a Neo Nazi with a handbag you wish to see in the world”.

Full Story: BBC – Culture – The image that won’t go away

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