April 15, 2009

Juxtapose this

Vogue India's (in)famous editorial that sparked major controversy.
Click here to read the New York Times article.
And here to read imomus's views and information on similiar photo shoots.
Vogue India, August 2008


  1. Hi this is really an interesting news that I have missed

  2. pretty cool articles, aditi! I hadn't heard about the Vogue India shoot before-- what are your thoughts on it?

  3. Thanks for the comments abhi and Meera! I think that it is a very 'Slumdog situation' - people who think that shedding light on India's poverty is always a bad thing.
    While I hope that the locals were paid for the shoot and not exploited, I think that it is a work of art and focuses on the juxtaposition that is the Indian society. India is a country of extremes and people need to accept that reality. If this reality is used for art, I don't see anything wrong in that.
    I loved that 'western' merchandise is showcased in an eastern, traditional setting. It actually made me pay attention to the stuff more!

  4. So interesting, thank you for posting this Aditi!!! This photo spread made me think of the slogan of Pharrell Williams/Nigo's Billionaire Boys Club - "wealth is of the heart and mind - not the pocket". To be completely honest, I don't understand sayings like "it is a sin to make money". Money is a universal language, and represents the ability to choose, as well as independence, and freedom. You cannot deny that extreme wealth and extreme poverty co-exist in this world. Just compare the standard of living in the wealthiest countries in the world with some of the poorest. The images make you take notice because suddenly "extremes" are captured together in one frame, and thus controversial. However, if you look at the faces of the individuals, many are smiling and I think the photographs capture them in a dignified light. Luxury goods represent an individual, handcrafted, quality item. As humans, we value excellence. To me, the photographs are aspirational and hopeful, as if to say "look how bright the future looks".

  5. Oscar: I couldn't agree with you more!

    Before I comment on what Oscar said, he added this to his argument while we exchanged e-mails:
    "not to forget that the concept of "wealth" is a relative one - for example, by some circles a person may be considered wealthy while by others they may be viewed as poor, when compared. It's all relative. As I remember reading, for our parents generation people used to say to kids in the US "do your homework, kids in China and India have no food". For our generation, now they say "do your homework, kids in China and India want your job". I am all for a global culture and equal opportunities for improving our standard of living and quality of life! It's about an honest competition."
    I feel that when it comes to wealth disparities in fashion, affordability and ownership of luxury goods, people get too worked up and make up a lot of the “its not fair to ‘use’ locals…there shouldn’t be expensive stores in poor countries”.
    Like Oscar said, wealth is ‘relative’. Not all rich folks choose to splurge on these designer items, a lot of them tend to be very very frugal and ‘appear’ poor because well, that’s the way they handle their money. I think fashion merchandise should be used to speak about your personality, or just because YOU love it and want it, and can afford it. People take it the wrong way by just looking at the price tag and declaring it absurd. I am not saying that the costs aren’t ridiculous, they are a lot of the times – but that is for the interested buyer to decide. Kind of like ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’.
    When I see photo shoots like this, or even when I am visiting India and am in my Dad’s (very, very simple) village, I think a lot about what the locals there think of money, what they desire, want they want to be able to afford etc….and I can tell you it’s not a Fendi purse or Hermes bib. So I think that it makes these kind of issues almost comical and it makes me think twice, thrice about WHY I think these things are soooooo gorgeous and if I did have the money, would I really want to spend it on that particular item?... Is it a wardrobe staple?...
    I think all in all work like this is one of art, and I would love to see more of such thought-provoking editorials.