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Photography Question 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
 

Child Pornography or Art ?


There has been much ooh-ha in the Australian news media lately, to do with a Photographic Artist (called Bill Henson) who displayed several large pictures in some well known Sydney Galleries of a "naked" 13 year old girl in various poses.

Some members of the public complained and the art was removed by the Federal Police.... but then the "art world' was up in arms (and some politicians) saying the Police have no rights to be removing "artworks" from galleries, claiming it is "not child pornography" but "art", by a well known Australian photographic artist.

I would be interested to know what readers of this site think about this, and their opinions on the matter.

My personal viewpoint is that the "artworld" is wrong and it should not be allowed ... for various reasons which I will state after I hear from other readers.


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6/10/2008 8:12:27 AM

 
W.   
Did YOU see those pictures?


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6/10/2008 8:47:06 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com
  Hard to judge what we haven't seen. Lots of room for opinion on this subject, depending on the photo in question.


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6/10/2008 8:53:07 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  No I haven't seen all the pics. However, the News Media often show one pic in particular of the naked 13 year old girl ... but the News people have placed BLACK BARS over the sensitive areas of her bust and lower regions. This annoyed me even more because if it is "art" then why are they covering up those naughty bits. One would not do that with say a nude painting of the statue of David of some other classic nude. To me this proves they are being hippocritical.


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6/10/2008 8:57:55 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  It is illegal to photograph and display pictures of under age children, especially if they are of a dubious or sexual nature.

Everybody likes pictures of "children being children". It is natural and should not be censored. However if the pics have a dark nature and border on sexual exploitation - then this is a totally different matter.

Some Australian politicians (quite rightly in my opinion) have stated that if these same pics were discovered on their computers, then they would be in Court on child pornography charges.

Because the Australian "artworld" are defending this so-called "artist" I believe they are setting a bad precedent for all the bad people out there (the real pornographers) to do something similar ... and get away with it by claiming it is "art".

If, on the other hand, the artworld say... "but it is being done by a well-known artist"... then they are being elitist" and we then get into the argument of "who is an artist" and "who is a pornographer". That argument could go on forever.

Either way I believe it is wrong and I believe the pics should be removed from display and the artist fined and/or given a stern warning.

On a future note... the artist says he was given "written permission" by the mother of the girl ... but at only 13 years of age the girl has very little say in the matter.

I wouldn't mind betting that when the girl reaches 18 years of age she should "sue" her mother, the artist and the galleries for displaying the works in question and she should get every penny she can. It should be the responsibility of the parents to protect her now and from any future potential harm or embarrassment. The parent in this case is not doing their duty.


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6/10/2008 9:28:17 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Roy, you should have put up the link to the Gallery or Artist for us to look and give you an opinion. I've seen this debated on 2 other sites that feature more Artistic Nude Photographers and its was the concensus of those people that the photos were done in an Artistic Tasteful NON pornagraphic manner. However being the father of an 8 year old that wants to model and being an ex model myself it kinda worries me. But I totally agree in freedom of speech and expression, except when it has to do with my daughter.jk sorta


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6/10/2008 10:08:46 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I agree with your worries and I also believe in freedom of speech ... and freedom to express "art" in many different ways. Unfortunately in this case we are dealing with "under age children". They do not have a say in this and look to their parents for guidance. If, for instance, the mother was offered some huge amount (say $50,000) ... is this not exploitation? If she was offered $500 ... what does it matter. She is still not protecting her child.
The girl in question may get ridiculed at school, made a target by the boys, maybe even stalked by some weirdo. Either way she is not in control of her life any more. It could cause psychological problems as she goes through puberty... and we all know how sensitive we are during puberty.
If the girl decides to do this when she is 18 years of age... then that is her right and choice.... but not at 13 years of age.
As I said previously I think she would have legal grounds to sue all those involved when she reaches maturity... and the authorities in allowing this are setting a dangerous precedent with the real bad people out there that will now be able to use the "art guise" as justification.


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6/10/2008 10:26:06 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I will try and get a screen grab off the TV of one of the pics. The media are so sensitive about this they will not show the true extent of the pictures (they cover things up). Why are they covering up things if it is "art" ?????


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6/10/2008 10:27:35 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  I think one has very little to say on this matter without actually viewing the images. Many people my photos for Maxim, FHM Online & STUFF pornagraphic when the models featured in a full bikini. Some places won't develop a parents photo of their babies 1st bath...a photo I used to see proudly displayed on hallway walls. Without seeing the images it would be unfair to make an opinion and quite frankly I don't have enough desire to search for them. They were originally available on the Gallery's site.


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6/10/2008 10:36:32 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I know things are more sensitive generally these days. It's getting a bit silly when you can't photograph your own baby in a natural setting. I am a very liberal minded person but you have to draw the line somewhere. As I said before pictures of kids being kids is beautiful. Everybody likes them. But when one is bordering on "sexuality" then it is a no-no. After saying that, some people can see a "sex angle" in the simplest of situations. Back in the Victorian era it was considered "naughty" and sexual if one could see a woman's "ankle". We've come a long way since then, thank God. I will try and do a screen cap of one of his pics and post it. (hope I don't get arrested - ha ha).


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6/10/2008 10:43:47 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com
  I was sort of thinking of the recent US controversary regarding Miley Cyrus and the photos taken of her for a magazine. I really didn't see anything wrong with those, but there really weren't any "sensitive areas" shown, and there was a really big to do over the whole thing..also shot by a pretty famous photographer. (Annie Lebowitz) I don't know if that's spelled correctly.
We also had a really big squabble here in this very QnA over a member's lovely shot of his young daughter, now all grown up. It was one of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen and I was amazed at the reaction.


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6/10/2008 11:11:13 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  Yes I remember that controversy with the Miley Cyrus pics. They were not at all pornographic. No nudity whatsoever. However they were a bit provocative, and with her own father in the pic gave it some undertones (?). At worst one would say maybe they were good pics, but inappropriate for an under age girl. I think maybe even bad taste on the subject matter (lack of sensitivity maybe).
However the one pic I have seen on the news of the Australian 13 year old clearly shows her stark naked, bare chest, and hips, almost down to her knees etc. It does not appear to be a "tasteful shot" (meaning a pic that may extol the innocence and beauty of a young girl). It has heavy dark overtones. The girl truly looks 13 years old... not at all womanly in any way. She is but a child. One can't help but feel like a pervert just looking at it and one must question the "motive" of the Bill Henson photographer. The other disturbing thing is that he constantly photographs under age girls (and boys sometimes). It is not just an "artistic theme" he is on. It appears this is all he does. He must have some real mental problems. Is he a only posing as a photographer to satisfy his own personal hang-ups.


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6/10/2008 11:23:24 AM

 
Carolyn  M. Fletcher
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/6/2001
Contact Carolyn
Carolyn 's Gallery
PickYourShots.com
  Entirely possible. You just never know. I agree lines must be drawn, but where the line goes may be open for some disagreement.


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6/10/2008 11:27:38 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  News is conservative, that's why they put black bars over the video of the pictures. It wasn't to say the photos weren't art, it was to offer some protection for themselves. So people wouldn't criticize the news station.
And the girl probably very much has something to say in posing for the pictures. You can't jump automatically to a mother forcing her kid to pose for the pictures for the sake of getting money. That's paranoia.
Some current nudes or supposed to be erotic pictures of adult women I don't consider artistic because they're so cheesy and corny. But that doesn't make them pornographic. They're still in the realm of art, just not art that I like.
He's not the first I've heard about that took nudes of kids. I read about one recently in Aperture magazine. So I haven't seen the pictures either, and until I do, I say you can't say one way or the other. they might be artistic.


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6/10/2008 11:39:25 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I understand all you say... but even if the girl wanted to pose for the pics (which she probably did).... it doesn't make it legal. She cannot sign any consent form until she is 18 years old.

As conservative as the news media are (and from what I have seen they are very conservatve in the US compared to Australia) the media here would still not put Black Bars over a classic nude photo or painting. This must tell us something.

I haven't seen all of the pics in question .... but the one I have seen is (in my opinion) really bad taste ... and illegal. As one politician said: "If those pics were on my computer I would find myself in Court." Is it OK to look at the pics in a gallery, but not on a computer?

The real question of "art" is usually directed to "paintings" (not photography). Hence you can paint almost anything and get away with it. Photography is totally different as you are using "real models" in the real world and they must be of consenting age.


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6/10/2008 11:54:52 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  "The other disturbing thing is that he constantly photographs under age girls (and boys sometimes). It is not just an "artistic theme" he is on. It appears this is all he does. He must have some real mental problems."

It's not all he does. I look at two links after a quick search and already know that. Maybe one of his reasons is to make people confront their own things that make them feel perverted about their sexuality.


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6/10/2008 11:55:21 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  I agree with Greg completely even though he thinks my photos are Cheesy & Corny..JK
Only after viewing can an opinion be had and even then it is a biased opinion.
Reminds me of listening to a radio show with a Priest that was saying he'd watched 1,000 of pornos and believes its the work of the devil...
I'm Catholic and grew up in a household where my Mom would listen to what the church said about Movies...they had Grease & Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind on the DO NOT SEE list...hmmmmm


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6/10/2008 11:56:59 AM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I am a very liberal minded person... especially to do with art. Anything goes. But kiddie porn (or something that is bordering on it) is totally wrong. If he likes child-like bodies then he should advertise for an 18 year old that is flat chested with no hips. Then all would be OK. As for religion... well not my cup of tea at all... but we better not get into that one (ha ha).


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6/10/2008 12:06:57 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  That's why the parent signed the consent.
The news using black doesn't tell you anything. When things have been around for as long as the statue of David, people get used to it. When something becomes famous, it gets to the point of being banal, like Jerry Springer's show. I've seen nude paintings pixelated out on tv before. What the news did is no validation of anything.
And those paintings and sculptures of nudes, many of them somebody had to stand there and pose for them. Either for the actual painting or for a drawing before the painting.


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6/10/2008 12:10:23 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  One doesn't have to pose for a painting? But if one does, they can have strategic clothes on, but be "skinned later" (if you know what I mean). There are no bounds with art... but photography with real models has to stay within the law. One should not "sexualise children", but if you do you should pay the penalty.


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6/10/2008 12:16:23 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
 
 
 
Here are 2 pics from his website. I would not call these "porno" (not at all) but though as photos they are quite good, one could argue they are "bad taste" because of the juveniles. In both of these instances the models have clothes on. Not with his new stuff. See attached...


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6/10/2008 12:26:10 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  So you're saying photography is outside the definition of art, and also you're expecting us to accept your projections on these photos.
And like I said before, his intent could be to make people face up to their own uneasiness of sexuality. This is already a long thread when most of the people haven't seen the particular photos.
For others, just do a search or try this link to some of his work, not the particular photos that started this thread.

http://www.pavementmagazine.com/billhenson.html


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6/10/2008 12:29:32 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I am beginning to think you like his so-called "art". Do you? Mmmmm. Sex is for consenting adults.... not kids. Don't you agree ?????????


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6/10/2008 12:35:56 PM

 
Ely Escoto   I'm a mother of a 12 year old girl, and I tink that this pictures are pornografic. TOTALY!!!


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6/10/2008 12:36:45 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I would not call them totally pornographic but they have serious overtones and are definitely heading down that path. Bad taste. Inappropriate. There are lots of words that come to mind. Illegal is another one. I think anyone that favours this sort of work has problems of their own. It has nothing to do with "art". The photographer is totally screwed up.
There are not many "boundary lines" left in the artworld.... but he has seriously crossed the line with many of his pics, especially his new stuff not yet on the website.


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6/10/2008 12:49:30 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  And this quote from you-"One can't help but feel like a pervert just looking at it..."maybe he's forcing people to confront their own demons about sexuality. Which is different than sex. So maybe you need to examine what you're getting out of the photos.


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6/10/2008 12:50:46 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  What I get and feel is revulsion.
Normal people will feel this.
Are ypu implying I am turned on by it.
If so I am very very offended.
Tread careful matey!
You must really like it!!!!!


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6/10/2008 12:56:51 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  And the first half of my post disappeared. The pictures on the pavement magazine link I see them as artistic. I may not like all them, but I don't have a problem with them.


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6/10/2008 12:57:33 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  I would be equally offended and revulsed if I saw pics of decapitations, murder scenes, blood etc etc etc.... but to your logic I must like it. You are screwed man!
For sure art can make one "think"... I agree. But this is perverse not art.


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6/10/2008 1:00:04 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  You need to introduce some logic in your arguments. You don't have a problem with your own statement towards me I am beginning to think you like his so-called "art". Do you? Mmmmm. Sex is for consenting adults.... not kids. Don't you agree ?????????" but now you want to be offended? I'm not worried. This is really just going to be another deleted thread, probably.


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6/10/2008 1:06:31 PM

 
Ely Escoto   I worked in Mexico in a Cybercafe, and in that time you don't have any idea of what I saw that some people left in the computers and the places they visited, I was in charge (because in that time they didn't have Progams to block that kind of places) to "clean" the computers, and let'me tell you that those kind of pictures where followed for some others more dirty and unmaded imagens.


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6/10/2008 5:30:56 PM

 
Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2005
  Anything that even comes close to this subject is "bad" and should be treated as such. There is one person on this site that thinks you can do "anything" to anyone in the name of "art". What a load of rot. He then complains about a possible bad thread.... yet he is the one that started it with his insults and personal rhetoric. This forum exists to express opinions about photography, and that's all. Nothing personal. As for logic.... he should use some.


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6/10/2008 8:39:10 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Why switch to the third person. Especially when you can't paraphrase accurately.


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6/10/2008 11:00:16 PM

 
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