compromised images?

astrojax 29 May 2008 72

ABC is reporting that the National Gallery holds a collection of some forty seven Bill Henson images.

Amid the current furore concerning this artist, what should become of them? I rekkun the ritoers would have some opinions on this…

[Ed. (jazz) Thumper also sent in a story on the same subject which i’ve copied below.]

I expect this could lead to some healthy debate.

Police say they are investigating more work by photographer and artist Bill Henson after finding 79 works found in the National Gallery of Australiain Canberra. They have not revealled the nature of the photos.

Mr Henson’s work has been the subject of much controversy following a planned exhibition depicting naked teenagers which was subsequently seized by police pending investigations over indecency and child pornography.

The art community has lashed out at the criticism, attacking the investigation as a “witch hunt”.

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72 Responses to compromised images?
sepi sepi 4:48 pm 09 Jun 08

I actually think porn in general can be bad. Some people seem to get bored with standard porn, and go looking for wierder and wierder stuff, eventually ending up at kiddie porn.

Or maybe that is just their story for the courts – who knows.

dazednconfused1 dazednconfused1 4:38 pm 09 Jun 08

sepi, we can thank Miranda, Hetty and someone from 2GB I cannot remember name of for the ‘widespread community outrage’ of three.

It is amusing watching Kev07 scuttle like a roach on this one, because there is no-way known he can recant what he said.

There was one psychologist quoted in the Australian who said that looking at child nudes might potentially turn someone into a paedophile. That is a bit like saying if I go and get the movie ‘Kinky Boots’ out on video I will want to become a thigh-high boot-wearing transvestite. This is not the view of psychology, rather it is the view of one particular psychologist expressing their moral position on human nudity.

I tell you what, when I sart having to see a psychologist again to deal with my sometimes recuring abuse induced trauma, I certainly do not want on of those types of psychologists.

sepi sepi 3:37 pm 09 Jun 08

In the end sanity prevailed and these images were all rated G, except for one, which was rated PG.

I also noted that in the recent porn raids, Mick Kelty was quick to specify that the images were of children being actively abused. This is clearly paedophilia, and this type of active abuse is where we should be directing our resources.

Photos of kids, taken with consent, publically displayed, and of kids doing nothing, just being naked, are not pornography in most (healthy) people’s minds.

I have been amazed that so many seemingly normal people took such offence to Henson’s work.

dazednconfused1 dazednconfused1 12:09 pm 09 Jun 08

I really must have a go at this. I was abused by a photographer and I can tell you what was done to me bears no resemblance to Henson’s work.

Nudity is not a sufficient condition for sexual exploitation and neither is sexual exploitation a necessary condition for nudity. Obviously the community is really sensitive about this sort of thing right now, I know I certainly am.

Those people who suggest that you should regulate any image that might be of interest to a paedophile are on a hiding to nothing since any image could be potentially stimulating. What is important is children not being hurt, and not having their innocence compromised. Nudity, does not do this, even public display of nudity in many social groups does not do it. If you wanted to stop paedophiles being able to access ‘stimulating’ images you would really have to stop any image of a child in the public domain, and by corollary cover up children in public. That is not a slippery slope argument. If we were serious about drying up avenues for stimulation we would have to necessarily go this far.

Hetty Johnston, who has never ever represented my feelings as an abuse survivor has really taken her eye off the ball here anf has really cemented my view of her as a sanctimonious grandstanding wowser more interested in getting her mug on television or her backside on a senate seat.

In the past I have really liked some of Henson’s work. I am not sure about this latest stuff, but I believe he has crossed no line. People, this is so far from images of child abuse. Sure he is exploring the human body in transition. That is going to be confronting in the current climate, but I really believe that making this taboo will only serve to completely fetishize the human form. That is not healthy.

Nude art and photography have a long history that has frequently involved children. In many but not all families there are many photographs of naked children. Hetty’s comment that any nude image of a child is pornographic automatically makes these families who have nude pictures of their children pornographers. Many of these families are exactly what I would call mainstream Australia as well, not the arty farty leftie liberal set at all.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 9:03 am 30 May 08
tap tap 11:12 pm 29 May 08

Whatsup: Artworks like this serve to make society think about whats right and wrong, and why. Which is always a good thing to be thinking about.

Having said that, I just saw a flash of the picture on the tv, it did look fairly dodgy. I’ll be interested to see what happens with the police about this.

imhotep imhotep 11:04 pm 29 May 08

edit: BILL Henson

imhotep imhotep 11:02 pm 29 May 08

astrojax said :

Atrojax -‘and we have to remember in this debate that the subject at question was not displayed as fully naked ‘-

Oh really? A quick google of ‘Jim Henson’/images brings up a few pictures I wouldn’t like to be MY daughter.

I have no problem with porn. But I do have a problem with children being exploited.


Whatsup Whatsup 10:58 pm 29 May 08

tap said :

Although the question of where art (like this in question) ends and child porn starts is an interesting one…

Tap: This is the ultimate question on the topic. Artists often set out to engage people on an emotional level with their work. The same piece of artwork could trigger a healthy thought pattern in one person and an disturbed thought pattern in another. Whilst there will be ends of the spectrum, there will be plenty of grey in the middle.

tap tap 10:42 pm 29 May 08

Ok so because you wouldn’t have done it, so no one should have done it. Fine, opinions like yours are the price we have to pay. Im just glad opinion is where it ends, and your opinion isn’t enforced by any kind of law.

If this artist produced this edgy or outrageous work to promote themselves, so what? Thats certainly no crime.

imhotep imhotep 10:14 pm 29 May 08

‘But this isn’t about me or you, its about the girl in question and their parents, and what they feel about it.’

So anything is OK, as long as ‘the girl in question’, and her parents, agrees? I think not.
You could always find someone who will ‘agree’ with anything. This does not make it acceptable for society to condone it.

Call me cynical, but in my view ‘artists’ often produce edgy or outrageous works and use the ensuing conservative outrage to promote themselves. They will always find defenders amongst those who would like to be seen as ‘progressive’.


I’m sure we all remeber ‘Piss Christ’, or the film ‘9 Songs’. We all remember them for their controversy, not for any artistic merit the works may have contained.


astrojax astrojax 9:55 pm 29 May 08

first scenario, imhotep, is a no, it isn’t all right to torture anyone. someone submitting to masochistic practices as their wont (such as for NYC photographer richard kern, and a huge no. of others, is a different matter. but no, art doesn’t condone anything simply because it is claimed to be art. see, not everything is as it seems, especially in art – that’s one of its great capacities – to get us to see things in some way, from some perspective, usually one we’ve not necessarily considered previously.

the second question, if i had a fourteen year old daughter and you were bill henson [or some relevant equivalent – ie respectable artist with appropriate intent, etc], and my daughter agreed after a full and frank discussion, would be yes.

and we have to remember in this debate that the subject at question was not displayed as fully naked – no genitalia could be discerned. a pre-pubescent chest is not genitalia. or else all those shots of bubs in the bath will land you 20 in pentridge. who’d be left outside to prosecute??

tap tap 9:50 pm 29 May 08

1. Is the torture being acted? Then definately yes. If not, then artists do have to abide by the law of the land, if the artist commits a serious crime in creating their art, then, well there is plenty of evidence for the police isn’t there?

2. I dont know, probably not. But this isn’t about me or you, its about the girl in question and their parents, and what they feel about it.

imhotep imhotep 9:27 pm 29 May 08

Two questions.

(1) Assume I am an artist. I produce pictures of women being tortured, to highlight women’s opression/objectivication/some other plausible theme. I do this with their consent.
Would this be OK? Is anything OK as long as it’s ‘art’?

(2) Would YOU let naked photos of your 14 year old daughter be displayed in public?

(I answer no to both. Guess I must be a rightwing redneck do-gooder)


tap tap 9:26 pm 29 May 08

Although the question of where art (like this in question) ends and child porn starts is an interesting one…

tap tap 9:22 pm 29 May 08

DMD: I don’t mean to frighten you, but Kerrie Anne agrees with you, as does channel nine news etc…

Im anti bad taste, but im even more anti censorship. The price we pay for freedom (which we do have to a decent extent) is bad art, people bleating about their right to discriminate without being discrimanted against, disco rock etc. Its worth this price, because it means the next time the christian right or any other bastards who try to claim they have copyright on whats normal, good and moral tries to tell us that our music/literature is of the devil and should be banned, we can tell them exactly where to go, safe in the knowledge our society will agree. Cencorship is bad for society, even when(/if, I havn’t seen the pictures) the material in question is repugnant.

Mr Waffle Mr Waffle 9:20 pm 29 May 08

I am guilty of taking many photos of naked children. I’ve even emailed them around to my friends. No one would accuse me of child pornography.

Exactly. Tony Abbot said that he’s concerned about a double standard; that it’s art on the wall of the gallery but those photos would be porn if on his computer. So what does that make the numerous nude photos of a co-worker’s daughter on his wall at work?

bd84 bd84 9:17 pm 29 May 08

do-gooders of the world too

bd84 bd84 9:15 pm 29 May 08

blah blah blah

It’s funny how artwork like Henson’s can be around for decades before someone goes “OMG! that’s a child, it’s pornographic and paedophilia!” The do-gooders of the work shiit me. While agreed that there is a line between art and paedophilia, there line isn’t exactly that thin or fuzzy as all the whingers and those jumping on the band wagon claim. I have no doubt that these pictures are art and nothing more, you see the artistic side in the pictures. I agree that children who appear in such works should do with parent’s consent and supervision, but the apparent lack of complaints and the numerous other subjects who have basically told everyong to fck off and stop being rediculous really says it all.

But i’m sure all naked baby pictures parents take and art works containing naked babies will soon be banned and the photographer/artist shall be burnt at the stake.

GnT GnT 9:12 pm 29 May 08

People usually don’t change their underwear in public, bathe in public or go to the toilet in public

Children do.

I am guilty of taking many photos of naked children. I’ve even emailed them around to my friends. No one would accuse me of child pornography.

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