|In this whole-page shot of a local German paper, Naomi Billard is being photographed |
with the photo that "robbed" the poorest of our country's poor of his privacy and dignity.
A picture at the main station in Stuttgart is a cause of controversy.
The photo exhibition “Cities of the World” along the corridor to the platforms at the main Stuttgart rail station displays pictures of the world’s biggest cities. During the day travellers drag their rattling wheelie suitcases past Mexico City, Mumbai, Tokyo and Bangladesh. The photographs depict skyscrapers soaring towards the heavens, masses of people on overfilled streets – mega-cities teeming with life.
Manila, the capital of Philippines is featured as well. Naomi Paca Billard stands in front of the grand picture as passengers rush by. The Filipina claims that her national pride is hurt by this image. She looks once more at the picture and shakes her head. The picture can’t be judged as a whole to understand what bothers her. It depicts daily life in a poor part of the city.
But on the bottom right of the photograph, a naked woman is visible certainly in a discreet pose but attending to her business. “Even if the woman has her back turned towards the viewer, I don’t think her act should be seen by everyone who walks past.” says 59-year old Ms. Billard. It injures her sense of honor and what also bothers her is that her country is publicly displayed in this way: corrugated iron dwellings, trash on the streets and the detail at the picture’s margin. After all Manila, is a city with a population of millions, with skyscrapers, colonial buildings and large public squares.
Simone Bartz who has just arrived from Berlin takes a brief glance at the picture. “No, I don’t think it’s all that visible. What is that woman actually doing?” Another passerby, though, can understand the criticism.
Ms. Billard initially brought this up with the German rail company Deutsche Bahn, who were friendly enough, so Ms. Billard, to inform her that Turmforum and the Stuttgart-Ulm Rail Project Society are responsible for the exhibition. And the response? First there was none. On Friday, after our paper inquired a statement was forthcoming. “It was not our intention to hurt anyone’s feelings with this poster. If that is the case, we apologize,” said a speaker of the Stuttgart-Ulm Rail Project Society. They also state that the exhibition is only running till the end of the year. “It is hard to take down a single picture, since one poster has many cities printed on it. We are checking whether we can cover the offending area.”
This is the English translation of an article that appeared in Struttgarter Nachrichten, as provided by my facebook friend Naomi Billard.
Also see related post entitled, Is including the Defecating Person in a photo, a bad taste?