This Art Attack


It amazes me that in all the varied opinions I've heard on the nude child photos, no one has actually mentioned the real point here.

One's opinion on the issue has become almost a shorthand for your cultural views. Think the photos are art? You have a highly developed aesthetic, you're in favour of freedom of speech, you're generally an open-minded individual. If on the other hand, you think the photos are exploitative kiddy porn, then you're a philistine, right-wing wowser.

Both wrong. Look, I can see that the photos are art. But that does not make them okay. "Art" should not be able to supersede the general rules of right and wrong. Otherwise, where do we draw the line? Photos of people being killed?

Children need to be protected. And those who now want to view/defend the photos are exploiting these children, in the name of free speech, every bit as much as those sickos who get dirty thrills from them. Bill Henson has exploited them; not sexually, but for art itself. And "artistic purposes" should be removed as a legal defence in these cases.

The death threats are wrong, too. Eighteen month sentences for the artist and gallery owner; 200 hours community service for those who viewed the initial exhibition and didn't complain. A lifetime ban from the publishing industry for all those who hypocritically published the photos later, with those coy black bars.

But, as with my answer to the smoking in pubs controversy (why not just have smoking and non-smoking pubs?) no one will pay attention to what is so demonstrably obvious here.

Edit: I was wrong, a little reading has shown there are others who share my views. This blog post probably says it best.

Astonishingly, the Age still has one of the original, uncensored images on it's site. No, I'm not posting the link. But I have to admit, apart from finding the whole thing sad, there was one thought that occurred to me looking at the photo:

It's just not that good.

Comments

  1. "It's just not that good."

    About sums it up really. I'm going to write a longer response on my blog to the discussion later this afternoon if you want to check back in.

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  2. Exactly, I do actually go to galleries regularly, I know what I like...and these photos are depressing.

    Even if they weren't, it doesn't make them okay.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing what you have to say.

    ReplyDelete
  3. >"Art" should not be able to supersede the general rules of right and wrong.<

    really? i thought that was what art was for. art pushes boundaries. it should, and should continue to do so. nor do you have to like it.

    >Otherwise, where do we draw the line? Photos of people being killed?<

    this is just a bit silly, sorry.

    >Children need to be protected<

    yes, they do. children need protecting from people and things that would harm them, and it's an assumption on your part here this has happened. children also need to be protected from a cynical world full of negativity and over-debate. assuming the worst and freaking out here helps no one, and fails to help actual cases where such "work" has proceeded without appropriate supervision or a supportive artistic environment.

    >And those who now want to view/defend the photos are exploiting these children, in the name of free speech, every bit as much as those sickos who get dirty thrills from them.<

    that is a jump, and, i'm sorry - yes, rather wowzerish - to use your words. failing to recognise the difference between this work and real exploitation shows a lack of perspective on your part, i'm sorry. take a quick look around the internet - you'll soon see what i mean.

    >Bill Henson has exploited them; not sexually, but for art itself. And "artistic purposes" should be removed as a legal defence in these cases.<

    this is a narrow view of his work, and is "just" an opinion. limiting art work of another person because of the opinions of another person, or even group of people should never be allowed (imho, obviously).

    i appreciate your opinion, but respectfully disagree.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for your comments.

    But it seems to me that argument is saying that Art should take precendence over any other consideration. I love art...but I disagree.

    I don't really think my point about killing people is silly. It may be extreme, but it had to be, to illustrate that there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

    And when it comes to protecting children, I think it's better to err on the side of caution. Parental consent shouldn't come into it, as some parents make dreadful choices for their children...

    ReplyDelete
  5. >Thanks for your comments.<

    :))

    >But it seems to me that argument is saying that Art should take precendence over any other consideration. I love art...but I disagree.<

    i agree with you here - "any" consideration would be cavalier at best. bill is responsible for his own work, not everyone's work. art should be discussed, even condemned - but banned? never. censored? never. i won't have society dictate to me my standards. i already know what they are. also, i don't agree that paternalism stops anything either, it only buries it, and runs the risk of making it seedy (or seedier, if you like?).

    >I don't really think my point about killing people is silly. It may be extreme, but it had to be, to illustrate that there has to be a line drawn somewhere.<

    fair enough, but i think here it's important to remain focused. we shouldn't crucify bill for the sins of the world, or as a white-wash in place of those really doing harm.

    >And when it comes to protecting children, I think it's better to err on the side of caution. Parental consent shouldn't come into it, as some parents make dreadful choices for their children...

    society needs to trust people to raise their children as they see fit. it's the basis of so much in our society. if the parents involve their children in the art world, really it's up to them to look out for their children's welfare. anything less is a slippery, slippery slope.>Thanks for your comments.<

    :))

    >But it seems to me that argument is saying that Art should take precendence over any other consideration. I love art...but I disagree.<

    i agree with you here - "any" consideration would be cavalier at best. bill is responsible for his own work, not everyone's work. art should be discussed, even condemned - but banned? never. censored? never. i won't have society dictate to me my standards. i already know what they are - and paternalism doesn't stop the anything either, it only buries it, and runs the risk of making it seedy (or seedier, if you like?).

    >
    I don't really think my point about killing people is silly. It may be extreme, but it had to be, to illustrate that there has to be a line drawn somewhere.<

    fair enough, but i think it's important to remain focused. we shouldn't crucify bill for the sins of the world, or as a white-wash in place of those really doing harm.

    >And when it comes to protecting children, I think it's better to err on the side of caution. Parental consent shouldn't come into it, as some parents make dreadful choices for their children...

    society needs to trust people to raise their children as they see fit. it's the basis of so much in our society. if the parents involve their children in the art world, it's up to them to look out for their children's welfare. anything less is a slippery, slippery slope. judging them in hindsight without all the facts is probably doing more damaging than the crimes of which they're being collectively accused.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I guess my jail sentences are a bit of an overreaction, but it's to set an example.

    For instance, I've recently taken up life drawing. Why are there no models under 18? If it's alright for Bill Henson, why not anyone else?

    (There's no males either, for that matter, and not one of my male friends will do it without turning it into something smutty. I'll get back on track...)

    I think there should be delineated boundaries though. To say nothing should ever be banned leads to anarchy.

    ReplyDelete
  7. >For instance, I've recently taken up life drawing. Why are there no models under 18? If it's alright for Bill Henson, why not anyone else?<

    it happens, but is rare (especially in australia where we have hangups galore). many parents probably don't think it's appropriate, and many schools probably don't think it would be worth the ensuing witch-hunt. a good example of work that might fall into a similar controversy is the work of sally mann in the early 90's - so it's definitely not just bill henson. there was actually a documentary produced about her and her family, and the results of her work - it almost certainly shut up a few critics to see her well adjusted and confident children.

    >(There's no males either, for that matter, and not one of my male friends will do it without turning it into something smutty. I'll get back on track...)<

    it's pretty common globally, but the australian mentality probably answers the male question. that said, i'd consider doing it if i was better looking. lol

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think these hang-ups are justified though. I'm very uncomfortable with the whole thing (and don't think that's because the problem is on my end. Perhaps it's sensing what is instinctively wrong).

    If you do decide you want to do pictures, let me know, I'm so crap at drawing it doesn't really matter what anyone looks like :D

    ReplyDelete

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