Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Don't Look Now

I'm not a fan of Bill Henson's photography. However, I am a fan of freedom of expression, intrinsic to which is the freedom for others to express ideas (and images) that might make me uncomfortable or even repel me. Nothing Henson has created is remotely in that category.
Last week, Australian police, acting on a complaint from an activist representing some 'Christian, family values' organisation, removed images from an exhibition of Henson's work at a reputable Sydney gallery. The police deemed these to be pornographic depictions of children. The public prosecutor is now considering laying charges against the man whom The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom, refers to as "one of the very few indisputably great contemporary Australian artists - a photographer of astonishing talent..."
Having experienced public censorship on a small scale at last year's Art Melbourne, I am at once sympathetic towards Henson and appalled by the embarrassment this causes all Australian artists. As Shane Danielsen observes, in a blog published today on the The Guardian web site, "Australia has a long and unfortunate history of book- and film-banning, and a deep-rooted mistrust of intellectualism in general and aesthetic experimentation in particular. This is merely the latest installment in a long, painful struggle to grow up, to think and act like adults, in an adult world. Clearly, there is some way yet to go".


Forrest Long said...

I always look forward to your updates on your work, as well as what you put on your blog. Your work is alive and powerful and I enjoy it alot. I'm a Canadian artist living in the south US. My art is quite different from yours but I do appreciate your work. I hope you will post your photography that will be in the upcoming show. It's good to be able to keep up on what you are doing. And for the issue of censorship you raised on your blog, that's a problem everywhere. If people don't like certain art, they aren't forced to see it. Censorship is unfortunate. Hopefully the artistic community in Australia will be able to stand up against it, not just for their own sake but for the sake of the culture.
Forrest Long

Jeff Martin said...

Thankyou for drawing my attention to the article by Shane Danielsen, the line ‘This moral panic, masquerading as vigilant protection, has a pernicious effect upon society’ articulates well my concern with this matter. I also have no great personal interest in Bill Henson’s work, but would argue that your censorship at Art Melbourne was entirely a different matter. Your work there was highly sexual and Bill has been accused of creating child pornography, a horrific accusation for any artist and a long way from the celebration of sexuality that you created in Kelly, The First Time.

Still censorship is censorship.

Great website Hazel, I only found it yesterday after the local hardware guy and I got chatting at the local café.

Jeff Martin