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Solenn On Her Viral Art Exhibit Photo: 'This really was a learning experience for me'

Many called the now-deleted photo 'poverty porn.'
PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/solenn
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On March 3, Solenn Heussaff took to Instagram to promote her upcoming solo exhibit called Kundiman. The now-deleted photo showed Solenn sitting on a wooden chair on top of a rug with one of her paintings behind her. The setting of the photo—a street with run-down houses and a sari-sari store—didn't sit well with many people on social media. 

Some netizens commented that her photo was insensitive, with one writing: "You're a great artist but this photo was done in poor taste. Using poverty to promote your art is very insensitive. Rich people and their poverty porn." Another said: "I think you and your team could've given the background deeper thought."

Solenn replied to these comments and explained that people would understand her intention once they saw the full Kundiman exhibit. She added"It's all about the background. It's all about not turning a blind eye to what goes on around us. Bringing people's story to light."

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However, because of the backlash, Solenn removed the photo from her feed. Solenn posted a lengthy apology on Instagram today and acknowledged that people's comments made her more sensitive to her choices of setting. She also took the blame and said it wasn't her marketing team's fault. 

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You can read Solenn Heussaff's full statement below: 

"I've been thinking a lot about the comments you guys left on the photo I posted. I know it sparked some debate and there were both good and bad takes on it. While I appreciate the encouragement some shared, I also want to apologize to those I have hurt. Wanted to shoot it in a typical street, those we drive by every day. Streets full of life, since all my paintings are about the people we see. Not the rich or the poor but people for who they are. Humanity. The choice of painting was to show the environmental side. The abundance and balance of what life was, but also growth and hope. Though yes, art is subjective, and your thoughts made me more sensitive to different perspectives on my choice of setting (it wasn't a terrible marketing team, it was me, no one else to blame) and this really was a learning experience for me."

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"It wasn't my intention to hurt or offend anyone. It was my hope that I could lend my voice and my art to show the reality of Filipinos. This is the heart and inspiration of all my paintings, both old and new. I did not want to romanticize the poverty of the everyday Pinoy or the resiliency that we naturally have. I really hoped to honor our people by being truthful about the kind of life a lot of Filipinos live today and to show that Filipinos deserve better. Thank you for letting this be an eye-opener for me as well. And to those that I have offended, I am sorry." 

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