“The Napalm Girl” – 50 Years After.
Nick Ut’s photo of burning Kim Phuc, one of the most important icons of photojournalism, was taken on June 8th 1972. 50 years later, photographer Petra Gerwers creates a bridge from the past to the present with her double portrait of the two. The picture, which won the 18th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards for Women Photographers, is part of Petra Gerwers’ long-term project Time Travelers.
On June 8, 1972, then 20-year-old Associated Press Nick Ut was driving down Highway 1 north of Saigon. Shortly after noon, he saw a South Vietnamese Skyraider drop four napalm bombs. The Villagers scattered and he heard a young girl yelling: “Nong qua! Nong qua! – Too hot! Too hot!” He grabbed his camera photographed the girl – nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc – who had taken off her burning clothes and was walking down the street naked.
“The Napalm Girl,” the caption by which the photo quickly became known, appeared in newspapers around the world, including the New York Times of June 9th 1972 It almost immediately became an iconic image, symbolizing the failure of the Vietnam War. Nick Ut was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in 1973. Today, the photo represents the horror of the war as a whole and is closely linked to the images of civilian victims in the Ukraine.
Photographer Petra Gerwers portrayed both, photographer Nick Ut and “Napalm Girl” Kim Phuc, along with the photograph that will forever bind them together, as part of her photo project Time Travelers. Petra Gerwers seeks to engage with the lives of her protagonists and the way in which they reflect them. And not just symbolically: In her portraits, the photographer captures the places and things that were trendsetting for her “time travelers” in the past for their present, in the form of reflections.
The pictures of the long-term photographic project were shown for the first time this spring as part of a solo exhibition in the art rooms of the Michael Horbach Foundation in Cologne. The picture, which was awarded at the 18th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards for Women Photographers, will be presented along with others from the series from the 13th to 30th October 2022 at the FotoNostrum Gallery in Barcelona.