Wyatt Neumann is a traveling man, a good friend of the Mass Appeal team, and a sick photographer to boot. Beginning July 17, he will be showing a series of photos from his “Notes From The Road” running photography series, amassed over tens of thousands of miles and the past few years.
The photos Neumann is set to exhibit have been shrouded in controversy, not by the photographer but rather Internet voyeurs. During the spring of 2014, Wyatt decided to share his love of the road with his two-year-old daughter. Much to his chagrin, folks weren’t feeling the photos he’d been taking.
Neumann and his photography came under fire from what has been described as a “hyper puritanical and neo-conservative” group on the web, which went on to launch numerous cyber attacks. People flocked to his Instagram to shame, scoff, and point fingers, culminating in a “@wyattlevi, the inappropriate traveling dadtographer” page on GetOffMyInternets, which has since been removed:
Shutting down his Facebook, his Instagram, and attempting to shut down his website, they went as far as starting a webpage about him and his seemingly “perverse” images. Baseless claims of Wyatt being a “child pornographer, a pervert” followed and attacks on his friends were made claiming they were simply “waiting around for a chance to get five minutes alone with his children.” Fearing legal backlash, many of the worst statements were redacted, but the vitriol, and their agenda, was clear: Get Wyatt Neumann’s photographs off this Internet.
Here’s what KP Lawless of Safari Gallery, the host of the exhibit, had to say about Wyatt’s photography and what it means for redefining the Web zeitgeist:
These compelling images of these children taken by their father have been scrutinized and censored by conservatives who deemed them pornography. Along with the images will be the statements made by these people, people who hide behind the cloak of Internet, attacking real people from a veil of anonymity. This work unintentionally documents censorship in the Information Age, an issue we are just beginning to understand. Just as the film ‘The Americans” documented an era with a cross country journey that posed questions about a shift in our values, so does this work in today’s internet driven society.
While art is subjective and open to various interpretations, Neumann lets it be known that his new show will be a means of exposing the disparity in ideologies pertaining to the notions of fear and freedom. In a statement from the artist, he presents his overall mission and intentions, none illicit nor predatory as stated by detractors:
In my photographs, some people see innocence and beauty, while others see only sexual victimization and violence. It’s an interesting lesson in the power of fear and fundamentalism, and the aggression that it can spawn. It’s also a mirror that we can look at and see ourselves looking back. It’s a chance to decide how we want to view the world, and to decide what kind of world we want to create. For ourselves, our futures, and the future we leave for our children.
And it’s a chance to see, maybe, what we don’t want to be…
So, the choice seems clear: do we live in fear and condemnation? Or do we celebrate one another, and ourselves, in this life? I choose to believe in our ability to fight fear with love, ignorance with understanding, and to unite rather than divide.
But you be the judge… Is this pornography, art, expression, or exploitation? It’s up to us to either cower in fear, or liberate ourselves and live.
I choose life.
Wyatt Neumann’s “I FEEL SORRY FOR YOUR CHILDREN – the sexualization of innocence in america” opens at NYC’s Safari Gallery July 17. For more information contact Safari directly, via the information provided below:
The Safari NYC
355 W. Broadway
New York, NY 10012