Thanks to your support and encouragement, we have successfully concluded our two-week exhibition. Despite Nikon’s endless interference, over 7,900 people have visited the gallery. Many from around the globe showed their interest in this problem and gave constant encouragement. Although the exhibition is over, the current situation at hand will not conclude until we receive a formal apology from Nikon, and until Nikon acts responsibly. The following is the Statement of Protest that we have read aloud on the last day of the exhibition and sent to Nikon’s president.
取締役社長兼社長執行役員 木村眞琴 様
Kimura Makoto / President Kimura Makoto
Statement of Protest
This is an official protest of Nikon’s unethical, abrupt cancellation and interference with Ahn Sehong’s photography exhibition.
In regards to the preparation and the overall progress of the exhibition, Nikon committed actions that deliberately went against its ideology of “enhancing photography culture”, of which disappointed photographers and enthusiasts everywhere. Although obeying the court’s temporary injunction, Nikon threatened to shut down the exhibition again citing that Nikon Salon belongs to Nikon and it can do whatever it wants with the property. Nikon left a negative mark on the history of photography by defaming the very exhibition that was approved by the company’s photography review board; an act that has never been heard of.
In complying with the temporary injunction and the duration of the exhibition, Nikon hired unethical lawyers to interfere with the event and violated the rights of not only the exhibitor, but of the visitors as well. Nikon stationed their lawyers inside the gallery as we prepared for the exhibition, and conducted constant surveillance on Ahn Sehong. They also recorded most, if not all of Ahn’s conversations, and kept records of people who conversed with him. Shockingly, Nikon’s lawyers followed Ahn outside to the gallery and eavesdropped on private conversations, thereby violating the privacy of both Ahn and the visitors. Nikon employees also searched through visitors’ bags and belongings, violating the rights of photo enthusiasts.
From the first day of the exhibition until now, Nikon has impeded press activity inside the gallery, prohibiting picture taking and video recordings as well as interviews. Nikon has deprived the public of the right to know about the comfort women by blocking press coverage from the start. Nikon has also forbid Ahn, the exhibitor himself, from taking photographs inside the gallery.
As for the exhibition itself, Nikon did not advertise the event internally as well. Nikon refused to post the exhibition’s information on its website, confusing prospective visitors. Nikon also limited the amount and the variety of pamphlets and went as far as banning the sale and distribution of Ahn’s materials, thus caused great damage to the exhibitor.
Nikon’s one-sided actions and refusal to negotiate further worsened the abovementioned problems and caused confusion to Ahn and his supporters. Nikon’s actions are causing great emotional and monetary damage to Ahn, his family, and other staff. Nikon must take responsibility and agree to the following conditions.
1. Nikon must acknowledge its faults, explain its actions, and formally apologize to Ahn and photography enthusiasts in public.
2. Nikon must stop oppressing the “freedom of expression”, and must publicly announce its measures to stop something like this from happening ever again.
3. Nikon must fully cooperate with and facilitate Ahn Sehong’s Osaka Encore Exhibition (13-19 September).
4. Nikon must make reparations on damages caused by its one-sided cancellation of the exhibition, and the monetary and emotional damages caused by its interference and violation of privacy.
We demand that Nikon act properly upon this issue and work to enhance the culture of photography. We expect a prompt and concise response in writing.
2012. 7. 9
안세홍 Ahn Sehong