July 27, 2006 — -- A controversial new art exhibit displays toddlers with tear-streaked cheeks as they howl and cry as if the world were ending, but that's the point.
"I'm just trying to convey that the children, if they knew, would be really upset about the way the world is going," photographer Jill Greenberg said.
To elicit such emotion, Greenberg did the unthinkable: She took away their lollipops.
That seemingly simple act stirred enormous controversy when her exhibit "End Times" opened at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles. On the first day the gallery posted the photos on its Web site, it received 14,000 e-mails, the gallery said.
American Photo magazine published the images in this month's issue and received a greater response than for any article it has published since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"I was just astounded to see hundreds of e-mails coming in and letters pouring in. People [are] really furious," said David Schonauer, editor in chief of American Photo.
Greenberg's daugther appears in some of the photographs, and the other children's parents were present when the photos were taken, the photographer said.
"If I thought that would have caused any harm to a child then I wouldn't have done it," she said. "And as soon as their lollipop was returned they were happy little campers."
Greenberg's next exhibit features photographs of monkeys in similar poses. She said the monkeys were not harmed in the process.