Not all photographers, or creative people in general, have an innate sense for good taste.
Indeed, back in October, a Hungarian photographer came under fire for trying to sell luxury mobiles phones, handbags and clothes with a refugee-chic styled photo shoot.
Now, Peruvian photographer Rodrigo Diaz of Estudio Diaz is facing criticism for his portrayal of models wearing designer togs and posing in scenes ‘inspired’ by the terror-inducing atrocities committed by the Marxist rebels of the ‘Shining Path’.
The Andean nation’s official truth and reconciliation report found the Shining Path responsible for 31,333 of the 69,000 deaths of the ongoing 35-year civil war in Peru.
They terrorised the nation in the 80s and 90s, with the reconciliation report revealing the full depravity of the methods they used such as car bombings, murdering babies with axes and publicly ‘dynamiting’ corpses.
The gaunt-looking model, clothes and settings of Diaz’ shoot appear to be styled after the poor, often indigenous, victims of the Shining Path in remote rural areas in Peru.
Diaz shared the photos this week on his Facebook page, thanking the clothes designer, model and make-up artist and hair stylist for their contributions.
The backlash was swift and blunt.
Commenters were united in their condemning of Diaz for using a painful—a still recent—episode in the country’s past to sell clothes.
One shared a link to a database of victims and incidents prepared by Peru’s Place of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion, a recently opened museum dedicated to the conflict. He wrote,
Peruvian news site El Utero shared the story, under the headline: ‘Fashion inspired by terrorism? It’s not Zoolander III. It’s sad Peruvian reality’.
Diaz deleted his Facebook post due to the backlash, and wrote a lengthy apology to his followers:
He notes that some of the offence could have been avoided had he properly introduced the shoot, explaining that the clothing line is called ‘Scars’ (Cicatrices) rather than saying it was ‘inspired by terrorism’, though the original post did feature an image with the words: ‘I don’t forget, nor forgive’.
What seemed at first to be a tasteless concept, could simply be a badly executed and ill-advised attempt to get people talking, which it certainly has.
That said, if you’re using your art to make a statement, it’s worth making sure your point can’t be misunderstood. And a high-end fashion shoot is probably not the way.
- Further reading:
- Hungarian Photographer Courts Controversy with Refugee-Themed Shoot