Nothing is sacred to some people when it’s time to collect likes and comments on social media. But there are choices of photoshoot backdrops and environments which are more shocking than others. One of these examples is the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa, Canada. Ever since the monument was revealed, tourists have been flocking to its somber, massive concrete slabs to pose for photos. Even a local clothing company recently did the same, causing a fierce backlash.
The Government of Canada inaugurated the National Holocaust Monument in September 2017, entitling it Landscape of Loss, Memory and Survival. According to The National Capital Commission, the monument “ensures that the lessons of the Holocaust, as well as the remarkable contribution Holocaust survivors have made to Canada, remain within the national consciousness for generations to come.”
As I believe we all know, the Holocaust was one of the darkest periods in human history. Over six million Jews and countless other victims were killed in the most ruthless of ways. And yet, some folks don’t seem to get the chills and teary eyes when they are in the place that commemorates this terrible crime. On the contrary – they pose for photos there.
What’s even crazier, it’s not just regular Joe’s or self-proclaimed Instagram models. Local clothing company V Kentay had a full-blown fashion shoot on location, and they even got swimwear photos. How disrespectful can one be from 1 to that? The company posted a video to YouTube showing the model walking around and posing, but it has been removed since.
Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, said:
“To know that this place has been desecrated, that their memory has been desecrated, and that a place of sombre reflection and education was used in a fashion shoot, not for the first time, is incredibly frustrating and disheartening.”
CBC reached out to V Kentay co-founder Phoebe Genus after the shoot, and she issued an apology:
“It has come to our attention that V Kentay has offended the Jewish and Ottawa community.
From a creative perspective, the artistry of the memorial seemed to be a perfect fit for what my team and I were looking for aesthetically for that particular campaign.
I erred to consider any political or emotional implications this decision could have caused. I offer my deepest apologies and regret making this decision. I made an honest and immature mistake as a new business owner.”
Freedman said that the space itself is public and there are no official rules about taking photos and videos there. However, she added that people should “understand its intended use.” Relying on people’s common sense is a little too optimistic nowadays if you ask me. So, I believe that it’s time for the monument to get official rules and guidelines for photography before someone has an idea to do a nude photoshoot over there.