The Dreaming Food Series Photos

Critics have branded a series of photographs taken on hunger in India as exploitative “poverty porn” even as the photos have drawn an online backlash. The photographs, taken by Italian photographer Alessio Mamo, showed Indian villagers posing next to tables full of food.

The photos also show Indian children covering their eyes while sitting next to fake meals. Those pictures went viral following the sharing of those photos on Instagram by the World Press Photo Foundation.

But after severe backlash from a number of users of Instagram and Twitter criticizing the “Dreaming Food” series, an apology was tendered by Mamo. Many of the critics posted the hashtag #PovertyPorn to protest the photos.

“This is extremely insensitive. There are better ways to raise awareness than to try and snatch dignity away from people,” Instagram user shraddhanjalis said in a post. “A little empathy would go a long way. Poor people are not props.”

There were however some other social media users who came out in defense of the series of photos claiming that the photographer attempted to create a shock and thereby get more public engaged in the issue of hunger.

“The only goal … was to let western people think, in a provocative way, about the waste of food,” said Mamo. The pictures were clicked in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in 2011.

“Maybe I did it in the wrong way, but I worked honestly and respectfully with all the people involved. I only had the intention to let people think,” his statement said.

The Dreaming Food Series Photos

It is the responsibility of the photographers of selecting which pictures they want to post on the organisation’s Instagram account, said World Press Photo which has one of the world’s leading news photography prizes, in a statement reacting to the online backlash.

While the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization claims that every day, at least 194 million Indians are forced to go hungry, India was also ranked towards the bottom of the 2017 Global Hunger Index and was placed at 100 among 119 countries.

Danielle Nierenberg, president of the US-based research group Food Tank said that about one third of all food that is produced in the world is wasted or lost in one way or the other before it can be consumed.

“I hope that all artists and journalists look at the issue of food insecurity and food waste in a way that doesn’t objectify poor people or ignore the true struggles and challenges they face,” she told the media.

In December, the debate over “poverty porn” became global headlines after Radi-Aid’s Rusty Radiator Award for the worst fundraising video was awarded to a charity appeal starring British singer Ed Sheeran.

(Adapted from TheHindustanTimes.com)