So Sydney is currently ridden with an art controversy, and for you art lovers- you should all be in the know. Of course I'm talking about Bill Henson. Bill Henson is an Australian contemporary photographic artist and his latest exhibition at the Sydney Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery was canceled due to the nature of his subjects- his art depicted naked adolescents.This theme led to a complaint, police investigations and what-have-yous.
To truly understand everything, you would need to understand the foundations of Henson's work. His art is concerned with contrasts, juxtaposition and relationships. TheMaleBeauty noted the work (in it entirety) as a:
"meditation on the categories and relationships of male and female; youth and adulthood; day and night; light and dark; nature and civilization. Henson's intention is to use photography for creative expression. He states that he is not interested in a political or sociological agenda... (he) is not intending his photographs to be authoritative evidence but rather to suggest endless possibilities and cause people to wonder."This is true of his canceled exhibition, which reflects the transition from childhood to adolescence. To me, the nudity is symbolic of who the child/teen really is- devoid of social class, background and all the other superficialities that society holds dear.
Henson who have been photographing "young nude junkies" and "teenage nudes" as far back as 1983 used to raise no eyebrows, there was no persecution- I mean, critics saw his work as "obvious", not scandalous! What's changed now?
Nudity in art and pornography simply should not be confused- one is for creative expression and the other is for sexual gratification. For the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to label it as "revolting"- I am left speechless and disappointed. The comment by the artist Martin Sharp sums it all up rather well
"It was a powerful image. I would call it very beautiful in its vulnerability rather than 'revolting' as the Prime Minister has done," Sharp said. The photograph suggested the girl "gave her trust to Henson … and this trust has been violated by the police and Kevin Rudd's comments."
I will, however, acknowledge the current impasse. Should the government lay criminal charges on the man? Even lawyers have recognized the futility of such an act because "The Crimes Act requires two things - an intention and an act, the act is usually fairly easily established but if the intention is to produce a work of art and solely to produce a work of art, then I can not see how a crime has been committed" (read: Henson can easily find witnesses to prove his work as art). Henson's ex-models, even those who are now parents, had nothing against him- "His work is sublime and only a warped mind could associate it with such crassness" (not to mention he had full consent from all of them). The mother of the art-interested 13yo girl at the center of the controversy tells that they are "very strong supporters of Bill Henson and his works". But for the gov to let him go unscathed would most likely cause some certain strong reactions of the general public- not to mention Mr. Rudd. So what are they going to do?(This above photo is one of his older works)So you've heard my (rather strong) stance on this topic. I think I've written enough. I want to hear your opinions!
Edit: This sounds a bit silly- but thank you idiot for correcting my mistake! I got the picture from facebook and it seems they've got it wrong! I've changed it now...
Cred: fb, news.com.au, SMH, SMH, theage, themalebeauty, wiki