Friday, May 23, 2008

Art World Needs Reality Check

An exhibition of photos by artist Jim Henson had its opening delayed after NSW police raided an Art Gallery in Paddington. They reportedly seized 20 of 41 photos - nude photos of a pubescent children aged 12-13, some photos showing sexual behaviours betwen boy and girl. It seems likely that charges of publishing an indecent article will be laid under both the NSW and Commonwealth Crimes Acts.

Some in the "art world" cried foul; "It's censorship of the worst kind" they said . Defenders of the nude children's photos included the Gallery's owner, an arts journalist, and some members of the "arts community". A blog site discussing Henson's art, Junk for Code, argued that it's not pornography, but art. Defenders say Henson is one of the best artists in his field (digital media and photography).

True, much of the media reporting has used the word 'porn'. Whether or not they constitute pornography from a social or legal perspective is less important than the questions:
  • "Is it right to photograph pubescent children in that way?"
  • "Is it right to then put images of nude children on display?" (in a gallery or using the Internet)
  • "Is it right to display images of children in erotic poses?"
I think the answer is 'No', because responsible adults recognise that, as a society, we believe such actions to be innately wrong. Henson, and his defenders, might see a message about the vulnerability of pubescent children, but I believe that the photos are an abuse of that very vulnerability, and are inappropriate in a civilised society.


PS some of the images have been posted on the Internet, but I will not display them on this site, because I believe that would be inappropriate.