I once read somewhere that there is no Pornography, just good and bad art. But I’m not so sure about that? I think Porn is Porn no matter how you frame it. It’s just that Porn has a time and place that’s all. A picture supposedly tells a thousand words, so what exactly did Brent Stirton have in mind when he photographed a naked Papua New Guinean lady for a supplement printed by the Scottish Sunday Times??
Make no mistake about Brent, he is a true professional and I admire allot of his work. One of his most memorable was his photojournalism work covering the slaughter of Gorilla’s in the Congo. He’s won numerous awards and works for big media names like CNN and Getty Images.
So with an eye for a story and a skill for painting images to stir emotions he certainly did not hold back in giving us a master piece from PNG.
Commenting on the world’s oldest profession is nothing new, so he explains his approach as follows; “As journalists we often have to find new ways to tell an old story. I believe in trying to tell that story in the most powerful way I can under the limited circumstance that time brings to any assignment. I am trying to be less concerned with who I am working for and more concerned about what I am doing with my time. This is crucial period in our history on this planet and I want to feel like I am working on issues that matter beyond the sensationalism of the 24 hour news cycle.“
ahem…really?? Okay…sooo what were the limited circumstances and views beyond sensationalism in this image?
Looks like allot of time was taken to get the lighting correct against some studio like backdrop, or maybe it was a quick shot in some hotel? But as far as photojournalism goes, what is he trying to say about sex workers here? And who the hell approved this image for printing at the Scottish Sunday Times?
Trina Bohan Tyri, from Scotland, took the time to bring our attention to this. As if our women don’t already have a hard time in this country and then some foreign paper has our women displayed like this?? What sort of sick Porn is the UK Sunday Times peddling? Trina put it better in her words as follows:
The Scottish Sunday times supplement last week end, published a photo magazine by Brent Stirton
Amidst the usual amazing photo ops that PNG has to offer, l was shocked by the one below.
Urban and Tribally speaking PNG Women do not EVER display their genitals.
I an incensed and fed up.
……..this is my response
Dear Sunday Times Magazine,
To portray in your Sunday magazine Special Issue a nameless Papua New Guinea woman naked and displaying her genitals is an affront and an outrage to Papua New Guinea Society of the highest order. And also me.
Having lived for some years in PNG l can assure you and your readers that Brent Stirton has displayed a distressingly tin ear and shows a contempt for these women whose lives are under inordinate social pressures, l might add for the most part dominated by men. Contemptibly he in turn has capitalized on and prostituted this woman yet again, because he certainly will have paid her. This is no random out door photo shot.
Shame on you Sunday Times for printing such a racialist and sexist photo of a vulnerable black woman whose life at best will be one of poverty and persistent domestic abuse and at worse a slow death from HIV Aids. Would The Sunday Times publish a photo of a male sex worker in such a studio pose or a naked British white woman found in distressing circumstances.?
I think not.
Do not ask us to believe this voyeuristic predatory photo in some way remedies the abuses suffered by women in developing countries nor in any way alleviates or illuminates the dept of human / woman misery that is found on the streets of Moresby, Papua New Guinea
I think the Sunday Times magazine and Brent Stirton owe an apology to your readers and especially women every where
Trina Bohan Tyrie
29 Regent Terrace
Edinburgh EH7 5BS
0131 778398112 H/p