Friday, May 05, 2017

Photojournalist Souvid Datta caught in cut and paste job; his Facebook, Twitter and website accounts go down

From the Huffington Post:

In 2014, HuffPost featured a series from award-winning photographer Souvid Datta titled “In the Shadows of Kolkata.” The photos depict women living and working in Sonagachi, a red-light district in Kolkata, India, focusing on the relationships between mothers and daughters amidst a backdrop of sex work riddled with assault and abuse.

Upon seeing the HuffPost piece, a shrewd Bangalore-based reader named Shreya Bhat noticed something strange ― that a woman featured in the background of one of Datta’s photos suspiciously resembled a subject of the late photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who famously documented Mumbai’s red light district in the 1970s.

In fact, Datta’s subject and Mark’s weren’t just similar, they were identical.

“I was working in Calcutta, in the red light district of Sonagachi, as a social worker in the year 2014,” Bhat wrote in an email to HuffPost. “When I came across the picture in question, I started to look more closely, not because I thought it was doctored, but because the woman in the background looked familiar. Like I had seen her somewhere else, in another photograph.”

On a whim, Bhat decided to check Mark’s portfolio, as she considered the photographer’s work to be the most extensive when it comes to covering sex work in India. “I had looked through every bit of her work in the past and started doing that again, image by image,” she recalled. “Until I came to the photograph Souvid had nicked the woman from.”

As to the "here today, gone tomorrow" nature of the internet (refer to IPBiz posts on "Rutgers is Wrong" and the term "Sikahama'd"):

In an essay featured on The Scribbler, Datta explained the story behind his image ― or at least, what he claimed the story was before taking his comments offline. Thankfully, PetaPixel took a screenshot before the comments were removed.


Upon learning of Bhat’s detective work, HuffPost reached out to Datta for comment with no reply. Since the allegations were published on Wednesday, he took down his website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. One day later, in an interview with Time, the photographer appeared to have admitted to plagiarism.

“I foolishly doctored images,” Datta said, “inexcusably lied about others’ work being my own and then buried these wrongdoings in the years that followed.”

link to HuffPost text:

**The DailyO gives some detail of "what happened":

The woman Datta refers to as Asma, is in fact, not a part of the photo at all. The character called Asma actually belongs to a rather famous photo-series by Mary Ellen Mark, an American photojournalist who spent considerable time in Mumbai, capturing the life at the brothels of Falkland Road in the late 70’s. Mark’s grisly photographs of the dark dingy brothels of Mumbai are iconic. Thus stealing a photo from her corpus is rather difficult.

What Datta did, as is evident, was cut out one of the subjects from one a photograph, flipped it horizontally and placed it in his photo. The original photograph is titled “Transvestites getting dressed in a courtyard” and dates back to 1978.


**Thequint posted text from The Alexia Foundation:

Over the past week, a number of serious ethical allegations have arisen about the work of Souvid Datta.
Mr. Datta received a student Award of Excellence Grant from The Alexia Foundation in 2013. The award gives a cash grant of $500 and up to $1500 to attend an education workshop. The deadline for the submission of final projects is a year from receipt of funding. At his request and because of the long term nature of his work, we granted him several extensions. To date, we have yet to receive his final project yet.

Because of the serious nature of the allegations against Mr. Datta, we have commenced an investigation to determine the best course of action for the Alexia Foundation to take.



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