Henson exhibition shut down


General Culture, General Photography, Politics

“The opening night of an exhibition by the photographer Bill Henson featuring images of naked children was dramatically cancelled after police visited the Paddington gallery to investigate child pornography claims.” (story)

“The invitation to the exhibition features a large photo of a girl, the light shining on her hair, eyes downcast, dark shadows on her sombre, beautiful face, and the budding breasts of puberty on full display, her hand casually covering her crotch. Such images presenting children in sexual contexts are so commonplace these days they seem almost to have lost the capacity to shock.” (related story)

“Last Halloween, a 5-year-old girl dressed as a Bratz doll showed up at Gigi Durham’s front door. Wearing a gauzy miniskirt and a tube top, the child tottered on platform shoes while carrying the doll that had inspired her racy get-up. ‘I had an instant dizzying flashback to an image of a child prostitute I had seen in Cambodia, dressed in a disturbingly similar outfit,’ Durham, a professor at the University of Iowa, writes in her new book, ‘The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It.’ Playing dress-up is a normal part of childhood. But simply test-driving mommy’s high heels now has to compete with sexually suggestive pint-size products from pole-dancing kits sold in the toy section to “Hooters Girl (in training)” T-shirts for toddlers to padded bras for 6-year-olds.” (superficially unrelated story)

I had the chance to attend a fashion show a few weeks back; and while I was sitting in the front row, there were models (for the most part women) parading past me who, by their looks, couldn’t have been much older than 13 (looks are deceptive, of course - they could have been a little bit, but not much, older).

Art shows are being shut down, all the while corporations sell padded bras for little children, and parading the bodies of extremely young women in fashion shows is seen as, well, just part of that business. It seems to me that maybe we need to set some priorities and see where we can find the worst abuses of children and adolescents, before we have the police storm art shows. Just an idea.

Of course, this episode is just the latest in a long series, with other photographers being targeted being, for example, Sally Mann, Tierney Gearon, or most recently Nan Goldin.