After the photography opening at The Bui Gallery a few weeks ago, the above image was pulled from the walls on fears of censorship issues and violations of Vietnamese law. And pedophilia concerns. Maybe. I think. Though that isn’t the kind of thing that gets talked about in Vietnam, in my experience. All of it’s a gray area at best. I’m happy that the image got to hang for the opening, though it’s a bit frustrating to see it pulled down only a few days later, along with a photograph from fellow exhibitor Jamie Maxtone-Graham, all because too many local journalists and media agencies were coming in and asking questions. A little controversy should be a good thing. Asking questions should be a good thing. Art, whether you like it or not, should be a good thing.
Of course on my end I fully stand by the gallery’s decision to remove the image from the show. Their necks are on the line much more than mine. I disagree with the much larger picture, the one that has nothing to do with us much smaller beings. So what do you think about this kind of imagery? Is it exploitative or wrong or disgusting? Does it violate some innate sense of privacy? I’m not sure that it matters whether or not I had permission to take the photograph. It’s on a wall. Permission or not. Right or wrong. We don’t always have the luxury of knowing every story behind every image. I’m just curious. Maybe there’s no reaction at all?