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Is this poverty porn or art? Netizens weigh in on “grungy” photo shoot with dirty model

Is this poverty porn or art? Netizens weigh in on “grungy” photo shoot with dirty model

Thanks to social media and smartphones, capturing great photos isn’t as hard as it was years ago–which means anyone with a camera can take or make great photos. But for artist 7AM, his latest project called “Grungy” could be going into exploitative territory, with netizens decrying the way he uses garbage, a dumping area, dirt, and a beatiful model to send an unknown meaning.

According to the Facebook post, he used a model named “Anj” and thanked a certian person he called “Mommy Lydia.” Take a look below:

The simplest meaning of the word “grungy” is to say something is dirty or grimy, which can be seen clearly in the photos how the model was artificially slathered with dirt and her clothes torn.

But the photo shoot easily goes beyond the grimy aesthetic and depicts literal and common practices that impoverished people are forced to do to survive. In some photos, the model (who is clearly wearing makeup and is sporting a tattoo underneath her torn clothes), mimics the junk collectors found in the streets with her empty sack.

Netizens pointed out that the model was wearing a full face of flawless makeup, which included contouring and false lashes. It could be said that the grime and dirt could only be found on the streaks on her body, while her face was incongruent with the rest of her appearance. She was even wearing earrings and had subtle highlights in her hair.

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Another photo shows the model begging for alms from taxi drivers, her hands held out in the usual manner of beggars on the road.

In one photo, the model can be seen interacting with street children, who may be actual poor people while she is merely dressed and made to appear as one.

A lot of the questionable elements of the photo shoot also shows the model’s clothes slashed and ripped to showcase certain parts of her body, with the rips situated on her chest and backside.

The model was also posing on the street, on a bridge in an urban area, along with a dog without a collar.

Art or poverty porn?

While it’s very easy for the artist to fall back on the premise of putting forth a piece of art to justify all the choices (and his own questionable taste) he made in the photo shoot, the whole set of photos simply speaks of shallowness and simply a way to grab attention from all types of people who view his work.

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Another point to ponder in why this artist even felt that this work would actually engender creative thought or meaningful conversation is the title. While “grungy” does mean something dirty, the title takes away from the dignity that should be offered to poor people, who are people first before they are props or a concept used in a photo shoot.

Is the work tasteless? Certainly. Did it spark discussion? Indeed it did, mostly because people who knew more about the subject felt the need to educate the artist who seems to lack any sort of discernment when it comes to conceptualizing a shoot.

While photographing poor people isn’t original or unusual, using poverty as a way to glamorize or make something interesting simply means that the artist is ignorant of what dignity could be gleaned from people who work harder and have much less than other people.

 

 

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