Friday, May 20, 2016

The eye of the beholder

Here's an interesting (modern) dilemma, the BBC are running a story around this photograph today under the headline "Is this picture disgusting or beautiful". To give it a bit of context what you can see in the image is a father and his son. It was taken by the boy's Mother at a time when the boy was very ill with a fever, the point of the shower was two-fold, firstly to reduce the fever but also because the boy had Salmonella poisoning and the flowing water enabled the vomit and diarrhoea to be washed away as soon as it appeared. The Mother wrote in her post alongside the image, "He was so patient and so loving and so strong with our tiny son in his lap... I stepped out and grabbed my camera and came back to snap a few images of it and, of course shared them".

Apparently there have been many negative reactions to the photograph; perhaps not unsurprisingly in today's hyper-sexualized world comments have focused on the nudity rather than the underlying story. I often wonder what my own children think as they are bombarded via radio and TV with stories about sexual predators and the horrendous crimes they perpetrate, on the one hand it's good that the problem is out in the open, forewarned is forearmed etc. but on the other I can't help feeling that they're getting a warped view of how society really is.

My answer to the question is, of course, that this is a beautiful picture! It's rare that we see such moments between Fathers and their children, more often than not we're the ones taking the pictures or aiming the garden hose as our toddlers squeal with delight and are out of shot. I don't know these people and almost certainly never will, but that's not the point, this picture connects me to them via shared experience (having nursed my own kids through fevers and illness) and it triggers a strong emotional reaction. If that isn't one of the main purposes of creating art in the first place then I don't know what is.

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