Update (Wednesday, February 19th): it appears that the galleries are available to the public again. However, Chung Ming’s more sensitive images are not displayed.
The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards recently removed active links to images from three separate finalists due to their ‘sensitive nature.’ Ko Chung Ming’s Wounds of Hong Kong, David Butow’s Battleground Hong Kong and Adam Ferguson’s Hong Kong Protestors series are still in the running to win an award. However, links to their work have been deactivated on the World Photography Organization’s (WPO) website, a move that’s raised concerns about possible censorship.
‘We have temporarily taken down the images as part of a standard process which we have to put in place for these type of cases, until we are able to review everything in further detail,’ the WPO said.
Chung Ming first noticed the link to his series, which was nominated in the Documentary category, was broken on Friday. Initially he thought it was a site error. It was only when he tried to view Butow and Ferguson’s series, and received the same ‘404 Page not found’ message, that he realized the WPO was purposely concealing imagery that revealed the brutal reality of the Hong Kong protests.
“We have temporarily taken down the images as part of a standard process which we have to put in place for these type of cases, until we are able to review everything in further detail.”
‘I don’t know who’s complaining and what their concerns are. But why should any ‘concerns’ not be addressed by the judges at the judging phase?’ asked Chung Ming in a response to HKFP. ‘As long as the final result is up to the jury’s professional judgement, I wouldn’t say there’s censorship,’ he added.
As of Tuesday, the ‘404 page not found’ error was still popping up on Chung Ming’s series. On Wednesday, the link was redirected to a ‘Protected Page’ where login credentials were needed in order to view his work. A recent post on Chung-ming’s Facebook account elicited uniform comments of disappointment in the WPO.
‘Photos taken during a war right in the war zone has won numerous awards, but I’ve never seen any of those labeled “sensitive nature.” Anyway thanks so much for your effort and your truthful recording.’ said Sam Si. ‘Worse and much more “sensitive” stuff has been put on WPO before, and the fact that they’re on targeting Hong Kong related photography seriously calls into question the integrity of the organisation.’ adds Galax Chen.
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