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A Photographer Took Images of Fake Food In Front of Real, Starving People From Uttar Pradesh

It's a new kind of insensitive - where you don't see human beings as individuals, but an addition to your pre-planned composition.

Raka Mukherjee | News18.com

Updated:July 24, 2018, 8:37 PM IST
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A Photographer Took Images of Fake Food In Front of Real, Starving People From Uttar Pradesh
It's a new kind of insensitive - where you don't see human beings as individuals, but an addition to your pre-planned composition.
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A photo-series posted by World Press Photo has been the subject of internet outrage for the last few days, and perhaps rightfully so.

Titled 'Dreaming Food' the series features impoverished people in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in India standing in front of a table with food with their hands over their eyes.




These photographs are from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh two of the poorest states of India. From the series "Dreaming Food", a conceptual project about hunger issue in India. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My name is Alessio Mamo (@alessio_mamo) an Italian freelance photographer based in Catania, Sicily. In 2008 I began my career in photojournalism focusing on contemporary social, political and economic issues. I extensively cover issues related to refugee displacement and migration starting in Sicily, and extending most recently to the Middle East. I was awarded 2nd prize in the People Singles category of #WPPh2018 and this week I’m taking over World Press Photo's Instagram account. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Despite economic growth, a majority of the Indian population still lives in extreme poverty and disease. Behind India’s new-found economic strength are 300 million poor people who live on less than $1 per day. Government figures may indicate a reduction in poverty. But the truth is, with increasing global food prices, poverty is spreading everywhere like a swarm of locusts. These pictures are taken in rural areas where conditions are worse than in the cities and where close to 70% of India’s population reside today. Statistics show that 2.1 million children under 5 years old die of malnutrition annually. The idea of this project was born after reading the statistics of how much food is thrown away in the West, especially during Christmas time. I brought with me a table and some fake food, and I told people to dream about some food that they would like to find on their table. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #WPPh2018#asia #dreamingfood #india


A post shared by World Press Photo Foundation (@worldpressphoto) on




The caption tells us about the photographer of the series: Alessio Mamo. His bio states that, "he focuses his photography on social and political issues." His explanation behind the photos is also in the caption. "Despite economic growth, a majority of the Indian population still lives in extreme poverty and disease. Behind India’s new-found economic strength are 300 million poor people who live on less than $1 per day. Government figures may indicate a reduction in poverty. But the truth is, with increasing global food prices, poverty is spreading everywhere like a swarm of locusts. These pictures are taken in rural areas where conditions are worse than in the cities and where close to 70% of India’s population reside today. Statistics show that 2.1 million children under 5 years old die of malnutrition annually. The idea of this project was born after reading the statistics of how much food is thrown away in the West, especially during Christmas time. I brought with me a table and some fake food, and I told people to dream about some food that they would like to find on their table."

This portrayal of the people has sparked outrage on social media - without several people pointing out how the entire concept of taking these pictures is a very flawed, and privileged and perhaps exploitative way of looking at the issue.

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The backlash has been innumerable, but everyone seems to reiterate the same point - not only is this insensitive and a very Western way of looking at things, but also exploitative in nature. Alessio Mamo got to curate this series after getting second prize in the People's Category for World Press Photo.



World Press Photo responded to this, in a Medium post claiming how, "Being a platform we do not limit photographer’s choices beyond the guidelines provided, and we ask the photographers to respond directly to the audience when questions arise."
And then shared the guidelines.




While World Press Photo refuses to answer for the photographer's work, it is hard to ignore their insensitivity in the photo series -- where they don't see human beings as individuals, but an addition to their pre-planned composition.
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