22 May 2008

Art or Child Porn


An exhibition of Bill Henson photographs depicting 12 an 13 year old children fully naked and in poses that have been described as being sexual (includes some of the offending images) is about to open in Paddington (NSW, Australia) at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. The invitation depicts a picture of a young girl in her full nakedness and one hand covering her crotch.

So, have the prevalence of images of naked children in the
mass media meant that those things that were shocking in the past for our parents are now no longer shocking? It would seem so!

Children must be afforded special protections from exploitation and specifically from sexual exploitation and in that sense the purpose of this protection is to allow children to be children. The reality however is that children are being sexualized at much younger ages and being exposed to adult themes at much earlier ages than ever before. If you do not believe me then simply go to any newsagent or place that sells magazines aimed at the teen girl market and read a story or two.

The issue has become just that an issue and has sparked a Senate enquiry in Australia. The Report is due some time next month and I might post some excerpts from it once it has been released.

Does the ever-increasingly earlier sexualization of children do them long-lasting mental and psychological harm. I guess the answer to this question is going to depend on who you ask and how you characterize the question presented.

It is being
reported that Clive Hamilton, former executive director of the Australia Institute, whose 2006 report Corporate Pedophilia, authored by Dr Emma Rush, brought the sexualization of children issue into the mainstream, said yesterday:

"They have a very postmodern agenda, [with] an old fashioned feminist view that girls should be able to explore their sexuality and any attempt to stop them … is perverse."

This seems like that it is a debate that is going to continue for some time as there are distinct and competing agendas at play here.

For me, at least on a personal level, this is a sad indictment of the world in which we live that children can no longer have the right to be children. But, then again, perhaps this is the nature of the beast. The beast in this case being increasingly sophisticated technologies for providing information which in turn forces children to "grow-up" more quickly.

Nevertheless, the question that I want to leave any readers who have made it this far with is:

"when does art cease to be art and become pornography, or is pornography art?"

7 comments:

Rob Baiton said...

The opening night of this exhibition has been cancelled after public pressure apparently!

Rob Baiton said...

Postscript 2...

It seems that after a number of complaints, the police have decided to start an investigation to determine whether the photos breach any laws with regard to child pornograhpy and whether the gallery has breached any laws in displaying them.

Polar Bear said...

You do realise Rob, that the photo on your blog shows a topless under 18 year old and thus places you at danger of acusations of child pornography. The image is now cached on MY pc, and the police could find it and charge me.....

Rob Baiton said...

Polar...

Thanks for the heads up on this!

The picture was a cut and paste job from the digital version of the SMH.

I guess as goes one, so go all!

As of right now, my understanding is that the picture is art. It will not officially become porn until such time as either Bill Henson or the Gallery are convicted.

I am also of the understanding that people can clear and clean their cache memory if they want to and their a good digital file shredding software out there.

I am no techno-whiz but this is what I have heard from others.

When it is all said and done I would be arguing my case that this is an issue of freedom of expression and that I have a right to display the image!

I guess if the coppers and moralists disagree with me on this then I will have to cross this bridge when / if it gets to that!

Jurisdiction could be a little tricky though because I am Australian resident abroad, my ISP is local, but my site is hosted somewhere else (or so I am told)...

Thanks for dropping by!

Rob Baiton said...

PB...

Nice call on the "anyone that displays the image might be in trouble"...

I wonder now whether or not you are setting me up for something here :D

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