Saturday, May 24, 2008

continued, the art world

i'm not sure what i think about the goings-on in sydney with the photographs being removed by police from bill henson's exhibition, and the news that charges will be laid.

but my thoughts are:

1. i guess if he wanted to depict something special about vulnerability and youth, he could have used a scrawny, under-developed 18-year-old model.

2. it made me feel uncomfortable, while looking him up on the internet, thinking i might inadvertently download something "unacceptable". all in the name of research doesn't really cut it, hey pete townsend?

3. a quick google trying to find american photographer sally mann - who has had her share of controversy for publishing photographs of her children naked over the years - showed me that there have been court-cases in the states where parents dropping off rolls of film to be developed at k-mart and the like have been arrested and charged with child pornography over photos of their children naked.

4. don't all parents take snaps of their babies and kids naked, and in the bath, and rolling on the rug, and at the beach?

5. when i was a teenager, david hamilton was incredibly popular. hell, he was to the poster, card and calendar business in the '70s what anne geddes and her pumpkin-hatted cherubs was to the poster, card and calendar business in '90s. the girls used to love his photos, which were dreamy and romantic, shot through vaseline-coated lenses and usually featured pubescent girls and boys in "various stages of undress." there was even a movie bilitis, and while that was soft-core porn, the posters of ballerinas in tutus and sylvan-wood-nymph boys in pastel togas were not sexually arousing to me, anyway. but then i was that age myself, and not some paedo.

6. i'm nervous about even linking the names david hamilton and sally mann above to any webpages because what you can see is possibly inappropriate.


Mex said...

its certainly very intersting and thought provoking. im still not quite sure what i think. the idea of criminal charges is a bit wrong and goes to show how a few years ago no one would have given a rats hat and nowadays everyone is so worried about the sexualisation of children that they will jump on anything.

i mean in reality shouldnt they go and take down all those paintings in the gallery of naked cherubs?

Melba said...

yeah, i just don't know. it's all too hard thinking about it and it makes my brain hurt a bit. i think i'll write something about food now. just to move on.

but hey. thanks for your comment.

Perseus said...

I'm all conflicted with this whole Henson business.

I went to his NGV exhibition a few years ago accompanied by a chick who was a victim of child sexual abuse many years beforehand (13-15 years old was when the abuse happened).

We both loved his 'art', but she ended up walking out feeling very, very shaken-up and uncomfortable, as did I. She cried.

That's not to say he's a peodophile, but it is to say his work transcends simply 'art' - and there should at least be vigorous discussion as to the validity of this 'art'.

Melba said...

maybe the litmus test needs to be -no, i was going to say if something makes you feel uncomfortable, but then of course everyone is different. what doesn't disturb one person, another finds highly offensive and of course it's all so personal.

i took photos of my daughter years ago, when she was 3, in her bather bottoms, we were overseas on holidays, we were in our room and i was getting her ready for the pool. i'd written her name in sunscreen on her tummy, and then i wanted to take a photo of her because she looked so cute.

the thing is, in that moment of taking the photo, when i was telling her to look at me, and directing her, it felt a bit weird. not that we were just having fun and i was a mum taking a picture of my beautiful little girl, but somehow it felt a bit intrusive. to her privacy. because her body was being displayed and there was writing on it. or something like that. i didn't think about it much at the time but i've remembered it now.

i don't fucking know what the answer is. but i sure as hell am vehemently against censorship and pro retaining our freedoms in this country.