"Unbroken," an exhibition of photographs taken by teenagers as part of an international project, includes moving and often quite beautiful images of children on the streets of Vietnam and the refugee camps of Nepal.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Alert politics-watchers will remember the ad that wasn't seen during this
year's Super Bowl the MoveOn.org commercial that dramatized the growing
deficit with images of small children working off the national debt on an
assembly line, at a supermarket checkout aisle, on a garbage truck. The
irony was the message.
In "Unbroken: Photography Subjects Speak Out," the lack of irony is the
message. The photographs in this exhibition were taken by young
photographers as part of the PhotoVoice project (photovoice.org),
which helps young people around the world document their communities.
|VO CANG THONG, HAP TIEN LONG, YETHI RAJ, BISHUN MAYA|
|Exhibition: Unbroken: Photography Subjects Speak Out.|
Photographs by: Vo Cang Thong, Hap Tien Long, Yethi Raj, Bishun Maya and others in the PhotoVoice project.
Related links: PhotoVoice | K'ipay
| June 10 - July 17, 2004|
Opening reception: June 10, 2004, 6-8 p.m.
Gallery: Denise Bibro Fine Art
529 W 20th St., 4th floor
New York NY
Hours: Tue-Sat 11:00am-5:00pm or by appointment
Phone: (212) 647-7030
The standouts in this show both in documentary and artistic terms
come from teenage photographers in Vietnam, showing how Ho Chi Minh City
street kids eke out a living from an early age. One carries bricks in a
construction area, another shines shoes on the street. One, in a striking black and white photo by Vo Cong Thang, seems to be dozing off in a crouch on the ground where he is selling lottery tickets to passers-by.
In another, a hopeful-looking youngster in a white baseball cap with a black briefcase, comfortably rests the stump of his blown-off leg on a crutch an incongruous reminder of the toll of the country's wars on its people, although it's not clear how this boy was wounded. Most stunningly beautiful is Vo Cong Thang's "Acting," which shows a perfectly elegant boy of about seven performing on the street, as poised as a ballet dancer with one arm outstretched, his face and arms either scarred with purple blotches or merely crusted with dirt. Most jarringly incongruous is a shot of a young girl in pink and white sleeping on an intentionally bumpy bench (Ho Chi Minh City seems to have followed New York in making its street furniture as inhospitable as possible to discourage homelessness), her arm hanging off one side, her tiny pink sandals positioned at the foot of the bench. Above her head we can make out the bottom of a billboard with a Manchester United logo and David Beckham's smiling face, advertising who knows what. What the British football hero has to tell the Vietnamese street kids, or what they must make of his bizarre presence here, we can only guess.|
The exhibition also includes some rather plain photographs from a Colombian home for mentally and physically disabled youths and a more intriguing series of black and white photos from a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal. One shows an old man in a dramatic swirl of cigarette smoke, sitting on a tiny, drum-shaped stool; nearby, a very young child sits on what may be the same stool, illustrating the camp's cycle of life, the strangeness of permanent living in a "temporary" home. Some of the photos are accompanied by quotes from the photographers or their subjects, including this plainspoken description from one of the Nepalese children of his small sliver of the world:|
" 'Refugee' means people who do not have a home to live in, people who do not have land or property. They just have their empty bodies. Even though I am a refugee, I do not understand the meaning of the word."
|JUNE 28, 2004|
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