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Bill Henson #5: censored images « Previous | |Next »
May 22, 2008

Bill Henson has an exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery. It opens tonight. More eroticised images of underage children mutter the critics. You can sense some---those defending community standards--- reaching for the weapon of censorship before the show even opens. They will not see the sombre interiors, dramatic landscapes, delicate young bodies and faces emerging from the shadows. What they will see is naked bodies of young girls.

Moral conservatives, such as Miranda Devine, question Benson's presention of children in sexual contexts that runs through his work, which is quite explicit in linking sexuality, street kids and prostitution.

The political context is the advertising industry's sexualisation of children and the current Senate inquiry by the Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee into the sexualisation of children in the media instigated by the Democrats leader, Lyn Allison. This explores community standards and concerns about the harmful effect of premature sexualisation, particularly on young girls.

HensonB2008.jpg Bill Henson, untitled, 2008

Henson is part of the continuing tradition of photographers pushing the boundaries of photography as fine art amidst claims that photography as an art form is on the wane and that it's losing its grip on the public imagination. However he is also seen as indulging in a kiddie-porn aesthetic by many.

Update 1
I see that the exhibition has been canceled, there's a moral panic happening in conservative Sydney circles, talkback radio is outraged, the images are censored the Roslyn Oxley 9 website is down, and the police are investigating. Investigating what I'm not sure. That the 13 year old models were not sex slaves? Or that the images are "indecent" images. I understand that the contentious images have been removed by police and voluntarily withdrawn by the gallery. Who persuaded the police to investigate? Alan Jones?

Hetty Johnston, founder and executive director of Bravehearts, a child sexual assault action group, says she knows what 's going on. She has called for Bill Henson and the Roslyn Oxley 9 gallery to be prosecuted over the images. This is her argument:

It's child exploitation, it's criminal activity and it should be prosecuted, both the photographer Bill Henson ... but also the gallery because these are clearly images that are sexually exploiting young children They are clearly illegal child pornography images, it's not about art at all, it's a crime and I hope they are prosecuted.

Why is it child exploitation? Not art? The photos of naked kids are being shown in an art gallery not in an adult shop or on a porn site. Why are erotic photos of naked 13 year old bodies a crime? Prosecuted for an image of a young topless girl expressing her sexuality as well as the awkwardness and the “letting go of childhood. These girls and boys are becoming sexual beings in a dark world. So what makes these images illegal child pornography?

HensonBcensored2.jpg Bill Henson, untitled, 2008

Does that constitute child pornography? Or this sexing up the kids? Why aren't these bodies not seen as vulnerable and beautiful? Why not celebration of female beauty?

HensonBcensored.jpg Is this exhibition a porn site? You would think that with consumer images saturated with nudes selling soap and chocolate and even, weirdly, clothing, people would be less outraged about nudity, especially when these erotic photos are juxtaposed with landscape and architectural studies.

Is nudity sinful? Well we know that for the moral conservatives Benson has gone too far. These are kids. So erotic images are bad. He's crossed the line in sexing up the kids, say the neo-conservatives.

The subtext is an implicit request for the censorship of these images and, by association, the censorship of contemporary art.There are boundaries to the ethical rights of artists to freedom of expression. The police should act as moral guardians and adopt Plato’s philosophy that it is the responsibility of authority to regulate and censor the arts, for the sake of the good.

There has been a history of moves to censor art in Australia in the last twenty years. They include complaints about the exploitation of adolescents in Bill Henson’s work:

HensonBcensored1.jpg These censorship attempts also include the cancellation of Sensation by the Australian National Gallery, the removal of Juan Davilla’s painting Stupid as a Painter’ from the 1982 Biennale of Sydney by the police after moral outrage at its sexual references.

This is evidence that contemporary art can be confronting on grounds of sex, religion, gender and race--it can shock, disturb & offend.

Henson's subject matter can seem disturbing or even sensational and they do cause anxiety.

What is on display is public pressure to make contemporary art conform to conventional public levels of acceptability or community standards.

Whose community are talking about here? Is there not a diversity of communities in Australia?

Is there not a a diversity of communities in the global city of Sydney? So how do you c decide what constitutes community standards? Which community do you choose and why that one?

Update 2
Alison Croggon at Theatre Notes makers explict what I implied about the critical edge of Hanson's photography. She says:

I live in a world awash with advertising images of commodified and sexualised children or women whose bodies are routinely scalpeled and injected with toxins to meet some generically porned-up notion of feminine sexuality, a world where genuine child porn is something that people can access by simply tapping a keyboard.And what raises the hue and cry? An artist of integrity and passion, whose sensitive and beautiful photographs of adolescents reveal the twilit zones of human liminality, vulnerability and feeling. An artist whose work, in its painful and intimate honesty, directly challenges the crass exploitation and commodification of young bodies by the mass media and porn industries.

The images of naked teens are deemed to be revolting by the PM and are deemed to have no artistic merit. We should just let allow kids to be kids.But kids are sexual beings:

Bill Henson, Untitled, 200-2003

Are they not entitled to their sexuality?

I understand that the NSW police have seized 20 of 41 photographs from the exhibition with the intention of launching criminal proceedings under the Child Protection Act. Police say charges will be laid under both the NSW and Commonwealth Crimes acts for publishing an indecent article.The alleged Commonwealth offence relates to publishing some of the photographs on the internet. The decision to launch a prosecution was made public by Rose Bay police commander, Superintendent Allan Sicard outside the gallery while detectives carried out a search.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:10 AM | | Comments (45)


Is it art or it porn...that is the question?
The artist in question has had so much free publicity because this issue has been so widely discussed in the media, particularly on talkback Sydney radio.
Everyone has an opinion! The majority of decent people would agree that the deliberate sexualisation of children or minors is wrong. If children or minors are protrayed as an art form in the environmet of an art gallery and providing they are not portrayed as being overtly sexual ie no genatalia on view cant see anything wrong.
I would like to think that people who visit art galleries do so because they have an appreciation of the artistic form, whether it is an image of a building , or a landscape or a craggy old man with a weatherbeaten face or a young person etc etc

If paedophiles seek to get gratification from viewing underage people or children they would visit one of the many sites on the net which are called porn sites. What is acceptable as art and what is not? Should we put a bra on the Mona Lisa?

After reviewing these images I decided to 'google' young girls in porno, to get some parrell on these images compared to the porno site,it was a first for me and I was shocked what is so easliy available to see. If Bill Henson can create some respectable avenue of thought in a display of images and we can here the whole story he is attempting to get across to the public instead of the sensational approach by the media looking for something sleezy to report on,Bill there is no such thing as bad advertising I feel that the powers to be would be doing a greater service to the community and persue those sickening sights of porn that is too easily accesed by anyone at any age.Bill if you can't justify your focus on what your trying to get across to the public then you've got it all wrong mate

was there an underlying hostility shown to contemporary art by the media in Sydney? Or was the discussion about sexing up the kids? Did the discussion link the of sexual kids with the porn that is easily available on the net.Was any attempt made to see the differences between the two?

Why doesnt he donate all of the proceeds from the exhibition to Youth/Child Welfare/Abuse organisations. If the premise of his work is to show children that are exploited, to act as a reflective medium for the world, then why not donate the money? Its interesting that he went to Europe to take the pictures rather than take them here. Was he in Romania and other eastern block countries where child exploitation runs a mock? Be interested in people's reactions to the $$ idea I suggested. After all....isn't this all about shock value in order to make a profit from the art work?

This is not art. This is child pornography and Bill HENSON and anyone exhibiting uncensored versions of these photographs should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I love art and believe in freedom of expression, but this is perversion. There is no difference between these images and child pornography. I should know, I worked as a child protection detective and have viewed many images of child pornography and charged those who have possessed them. Don't even try and compare this to the brilliance of Mona Lisa.

What makes the pictures obscene is the prurience of those black bars. And totally with Bill on this question.

Gee, 25 grand per photo, thats top dollar for kiddie porn. Is it pornography, I think yes. As art, its boring, at best. There is nothing original or interesting in this work. If you want a recent example of a powerful depiction of a naked child, that is not pornographic, go look at Nadia Plesner's darfur image. In contrast to Henson, her work is powerful, relevant and interesting.

how is the first image pornographic? It is not clear to me how it is pornographic as opposed to nude, especially when the models, who were about 13-14, and they and their families had given permission to be photographed.

Does consent change things? Reduce the child exploitation charge made by Hetty Johnston?

I understand that the nude photographs were taken in Henson's Melbourne Studio. The second image is erotic---so what makes it porn?-- Bill Henson has been peopling a dark world with 13 year olds as sexual beings for well over a decade. So I think his exploration of teenage intimacy and eroticism in a dark world is more than just shock value to make a buck.

Sure some do say that art should shock mainstream Australia but I'm not sure that was what Henson was trying to do with this body of work.

First of all, it is good that art opens up discussion/s. It is bad that images can be removed and artists charged. These images can have many interpretations, none of which touches perversion of any kind (in my book). And on these bases I will start a compaign to ban every beauty pageant, especially those for children, every of any kind showing children. They are exploiting children, objectify them and sexualise them and therefore have no place in our society.
By the way: to read Henson's images as sexual or pornographic needs a really twisted mind. I think whoever was the zealot, has an issue...
Benson's work is exquisite and reveals more about human vulnerability then anybody else in this sad country.

I have modelled for Bill during both the Paris Opera series and some of the more notable pieces in the early stages (Circa 1992) of the "twilight zone" period. I was introduced to Bill at 17 by a fellow female model who had modelled for him from childhood and for the record state he NEVER treated any of his models in an innapropriate manner that I saw. Several of my peers and I modelled for him on a number of occasions and at no stage did I feel exploited.

I think it only fair to call the defenition of pornography into this discussion:

1 : the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2 : material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement.

I disagree that Hensons work is either sexually exciting or intended to call it. There are naked babies all over the inside of churches all over europe, they're called cherubs, why not BAN them as well? I am sure theres some sicko who finds cherubs exciting, does that make them porn?

Unlike others on this blog and question whether perhaps those who interpret his work as porn

A) understand the meaning of the word - Therefore bringing questions regarding THIER orientation if pre pubescent girls appeal to them sexually. Or theres
B)Those who do not know the meaning of the word and as such term any naked body porn.

I put most of the drivel spouted on this by the media and private citizens in the second category, with the notable exception of the hon. Mr. Rudd. In his case I attribute his comments to political expediency and view his position as a dark portent of the things to come from his not so left wing labour government. Thanks to those of you who aren't reaching for the book/art/burning matches.

The fact of the matter is, if these photographs were taken by anyone other than a famous artist/photographer they would be deemed by all as pornography. However, because Henson is a 'professional' photographer, they are being defended as art and the objection to them is deemed as 'moral panic by conservatives.'

One does not need to be conservative to recognise that such photographs place the subject in a vulnerable position, where first and foremost, the child is not legally able to consent to such exploitation. A child does not have the capacity to fully understand what is going on. This seems to be something that most are forgetting. It is a person in these photographs, (regardless of whether they ‘consent’ now or not) who simply cannot consent under the law. What are the implications for these children when they are older and realise that they have been exploited and most likely regret posing for such photographs?

On this matter of consent, it is redundant to say that family can give consent on behalf of the child. There are parents who will consent to almost anything for various reasons including, fame/money or simply driven by naivety. It is the child that will grow up and have to live with it. Why should a child’s mind/body be governed by the parents/family’s decisions?

Furthermore, the arguments presented extend to all photographers, if Henson is allowed to continue with such subject matter, this paves the way for others to label child pornography as art. Where is the line drawn? Can an alleged amateur photographer take such photographs and label them as art to avoid prosecution? I should hope not.

Thanks Gulliver for your insights. I completely agree with your analysis. This is a very sad day.

I can't wait for the Henson charges to come to court! It'll be bigger than the Lady Chatterley's Lover case - and won't the cops look foolish? This was to be an exhibition in a small commercial art gallery, for God's sake, and one that nobody would have known about or bothered about until the moral pederasts like Hetty Johnston decided it was an easier target than the the pornographic advertisements on TV.

I concur--these images do allow many interpretations especially when they are placed in the context of the whole exhibition which included landscape and architectural images. But a discussion about differing interpretations is not really happening.

I cannot for the life see how you can interpret the first image in the post as pornography or as child exploitation. What is being argued by the moral conservatives is that they, as Chris Boyd observes,reckon that an image in an art gallery -- or in your family photo album -- is identical to that same image if it were printed in a magazine to advertise clothes or posted on a porn site.Context is irrelevant.

I agree that what makes the pictures obscene is the prurience of those black bars. Why the need for prurience about nudity or breasts in an art exhibition, when it is flashed around by Hollywood? It shows how the religious and moral conservatism has deep shame about nudity and the human female body. Conservatism stands exposed.

I see that Judy Annear, the senior curator of photography at the Art Gallery of NSW, has said she had curated a major Henson retrospective in 2004-2005 that included similar images and was viewed by 65,000 people with no complaints.

The question has to be, why now and what actually does this furore have to do with Bill?People should be focusing on the main game ... if it has to do with pedophilia and the abuse of children they need to be focusing on that. Bill's work isn't the problem here, it's just a convenient kind of whipping boy at this particular moment in time.To take cheap shots at artists ... won't change whatever the problems are in our social fabric.

It's a campaign by the conservatives to rally the troops.

go to a nudist beach,,,,only if you are shure this is what you want to look at,,,its natural

Henson's work is bullshit!
The label "artist" gives no one the right to break the law and, far more seriously, to break the trust that the innocent, vulnerable, weak (young or old) should have in the strong, the powerful, the rich.
I'm reminded of MacBeth's words:

"Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast" (2.2.35-39).

Henson has murdered trust. No genuine artist would do that. Artists murder the guilty not the innocent. Artists protect virtue; and just as MacBeth (or his lady) got no sleep after he murdered his guest (Duncan) in his sleep, so, I suggest, neither Henson nor the parents of the girl, nor that girl will be able to sleep, that is, to ever regain their innocent conscience.

I guess Bill Henson is asking himself, much like many other great artists born in Australia, why he is staying here. In the words of a certain character in a recent film, "Fly Fools"

Meanwhile sometime very soon, the conservative christians will be taking their children along to see the christian family "entertainment" film Prince Caspian with its scenes of whole-sale slaughter in the battle of "good" vs "evil".

Just like in the 1st Narnia film and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The same "conservatives" would also have been rapturous in their praise of the "authencity" of Gibsons sado-masochistic splatter/snuff film The Passion. And have used that film as a propaganda vehicle to spread the "good news" of the brutal murder of Saint Jesus of Galilee.

The reason that images of "child porn" are illegal is because there is an assumpton that due to power relationships between adults and non adults exploitation is possibly involved.

Not because the human form without clothes or in certain poses should never be seen.

I understand that "child porn" involves images of anyone under 18 years of age (or is it 16?). No one argues that at 17 years and 11 months 27 days someone must have been exploited but that at 17 years 11 months and 32 days they cannot have been.

I reckon this brouhaha is a good thing and we need some debate about why some things are illegal rather than what is illegal.

The most common item found in possession of peadophiles are K Mart and Target catelogues with pictures of young models in underwear (not neccessarily in sexualised poses)

We must not forget that sexual assault is primarily about the abuse of power not eroticism. And we must never forget that the majority of child sexual abuse occurs with peopel, genrally relatives, that the child knows well, not with strangers. Just as child murder is mainly a crime committed by parents or parents partners not by strangers. Child Murder is a very large % of murder in Australia.

I don't find the photos erotic, but then I'm not attracted to girls or even women. I do find them beautiful (black bars aside) and I think they capture very well the vulnerability and uncertainties of teenagerhood.

If Kevin Rudd found them "absolutely revolting", I'm afraid it tells us more about Kevin Rudd than it does about the photographs (though I'll concede that he was shown them totally out of context).

whose trust has Henson murdered? He had the consent of the models and their parents. How have the models lost their innocence?

good account. It needs to be shown that in the power relationships between adults (Henson) and non adults)models) that exploitation is possibly involved when consent has been given. I struggle how one could do this--show the abuse of power--- through an interpretation of the photographs in an exhibition in an art gallery.

it was Hetty Johnson who made the complaint to the police. I do not know who the radio station in Sydney that created the moral outrage was.

John's point about sex versus violence is a good one. The Passion of Christ was the most obscene thing I've ever seen.

Catherine Lumby in The Sunday Age says that:

The current debate about the representation of children and adolescents is so charged that anyone who disagrees with claims that pedophilic images are proliferating before our eyes is open to the charge of pedophilia themselves.

Henson's work is art and, as such, it falls into a different cultural category to the ads for kids' clothes and the tween magazines that have been the central focus of this debate. But these distinctions are irrelevant to people who believe that visual representations of children and adolescents are the real source of child abuse.
It is hard to disagree with this.

All else aside, it is not possible for a child (under 18) to consent in these circumstances. The law draws a bright line in part because drawing a wriggly one leads to extraordinary confusion. Unfortunately, 'bright-line' rules occasionally lead to absurdities, and this is clearly one.

On another matter, I know Hetty Johnson personally - she's also from Logan City originally - and she served the city with distinction, first as local councillor (Democrats, then independent) and then as a child protection advocate. I find it difficult to imagine her going off half-cocked. Maybe she has changed since then.

I understood that it was both the teenage models (under 18) and their parents who gave consent. Does that change things, legally speaking? Can parents consent on their child’s behalf?

I haven't checked out the MSM blogs on this, and don't think I will - there's only so much I'm prepared to do in the line of duty - but this is a very, very hot topic.

Johnson is copping a lot of flak because she's rumoured to have brought the police into it. She's making enemies on this among people who normally support her and her work which seems none too bright. Bit of a tactical error.

imo Hetty Johnson has always been to ready for the grab and headline and light on nuance.

Pam - my immediate problem with Lumby's quote (and the rest of her piece) is that it is just a few steps from "if its in a uni or a gallery and its taken by a middle class self proclaimed artist" then its art.

If its on a hard drive on (shock horror!!) a computer in a bungalow at the back of mums house and its been downloaded by a guy in tracky dacks its child porn"

On another matter; I think that permission should be asked of the subject in these photos every time they are shown in public or sold. Anyone of any age who poses naked may at some time change their mind about how public they wish to be.

Disclosure: Ms FX is a sometime artiste. We have loads of photos of kids (ours) naked. We have loads of photos of adults naked and loads of naked pets and flowers too. I made a decision some time ago at the beginnings of this moral panic about computers/net/child porn to erase any of the images that were on a computer or digital. We now only have prints of such things. I judged that prints are less likely to cause a headline in the TV news or paper. I may now be wrong.

I cannot be bothered checking out the MSM blogs on this either. But I presume they're arguing something like 'the unfettered exploitation of naked children under the rubric of art should never be allowed", that Henson's photographs attract paedophiles’ etc etc without showing how Henson’s images have anything to do with the unfettered exploitation of naked children.It would seem that the taboo is we do not, and should not take or show photos of children taken for any reason (medical reasons an exception?)

I don't accept that the conservative antagonism to Henson can be interpreted as prudery or philistines. It's more than that as it appears to be a concern about boundaries and protecting children. Hetty Johnson says that we need to stay:

focused on the issue, and the issue is depictions of 12-year-old children within a sexual context, there's no question about that.The arts world should learn from the community's outrage. I think it's a message to the arts world - to be responsible, not to be selfish around this.To consider ... child protection matters because it's a crisis facing our children and everybody as adults has a role to play, including the arts industry.

It is unclear how Henson has endangered child protection (produced and sold pornography?) or committed a crime. Johnson sure has come out swinging hard hard against the art world. I love the bit about the 'the community' as if there is only one and it is the conservative community.

Johnson does give the appearance that in she is in favour of banning art cos it pornographic, and that Henson is doing something that’s taboo. She doesn't argue that it pornography--just claims that it is. She also claims that Henson has exploited these children without showing what 'exploitation ' means in this case beyond there being nude photos of a 13 year old girl. .

The Art Gallery of NSW and the National Gallery of Victoria not only ran retrospectives of Bill Henson's photographs, they hosted school groups, taking them on guided tours, and ran workshops. No complaints were made there, either.

Hi Gary,

I've gone to town and provided a legal outline of the relevant provisions, contrasting the old 'indecency' law (the one David Marr is talking about, which allows for the admission of expert evidence as to artistic merit) with the new s 91H, under which Henson has been charged. Sorry for the link spam but there is too much in it to leave in a comment without hijacking your thread.

More here:

yes you are right about the political moral climate around sexuality, sexual exploitation of kids and paedophilia. It is a moral panic.

Paul Sheehan argues a similar case to Kevin Donnelly--its in todays SMH--that it is time to take a stand and say no more. A war needs to be fought on this.

Sheehan says that it's too bad that Henson has been caught up in it, but the art world needs a kick up the pants anyway.

I read about Bolt and Blair's blogs which was more than enough. Bolt seems to have suggested that Henson undressed the models himself. It takes no imagination whatsoever to know what they'd be saying. Pam sums up their views with "a war needs to be fought on this" regardless.

Trying to work out where all this might be headed, Helen's piece is interesting as are many others on the possible legal ramifications. And the obvious benefits of being a libertarian on this issue, with which I agree.

Legal people have very interesting conversations. Sometimes. There's quite a bit of doubt around over whether a case could be successfully prosecuted, assuming that's the right lingo. Helen says the applicable law, regulation or whatever it is has been loosened up to widen the net, which also makes it harder to predict what the outcome might be. If reports that police are seizing more pics from other exhibitions are true, it seems they are serious about building a case.

I've read so much on this over the past couple of days I can't remember where I saw it now, but somebody argued that an outcome either way would be disastrous. Guilty opens up one can of sociocultural worms and sets a worrisome precedent, and innocent opens up another including the possibility of widening the net further.

A few, including Andrew Bartlett, think it's good we're at least having this debate. Terry Flew thinks it was stupid of Rudd to upset the arts people so soon after the Summit, which is a good point.

Cam reckons this is a hijacking of wider social norms by a tiny bunch of prominent voices, which is the impression I get reading comments. Eg: the God squad at OLOs general forum were pretty much alone in their accusations of paedophilia and rape (no kidding) last time I checked.

Overall, there is more outrage than information coming from both sides. I'm about to check Club Troppo's Missing Link thread which aggregates a lot of what's been said, but so far this looks like what I think of as blogospheric failure - a problem of diversity. There's an awful lot of clever thinking and expertise going to waste for want of a central place to bring in all together.

"the art world needs a kick up the pants anyway" Is this Son of Culture Wars or Culture War Zombie Back From the Dead?

I cannot access your site to look at your post. How about this judgment:

The relevant provision seems to be section 91G of the NSW Crimes Act, dealing with use of children for pornographic purposes. The definition of "pornographic purposes" talks of a child being involved in sexual activity (not relevant here) or placed in a sexual context. I doubt that nakedness is necessarily a sexual context.There are other provisions dealing generally with displaying indecent articles but I doubt that they are relevant either. On a quick look the Commonwealth laws have even narrower definitions.
So, my predictions are:
1. The DPP will decide not to prosecute.
2. The Premier will express outrage at a "loophole" in the law and promise to change it.
3. The Prime Minister will realize that he spoke carelessly and foolishly and keep his mouth shut.

What do you think? Is this the right section?

It's back up now, Gary. We had technical problems. Sorry about that.

I see much hypocrisy and denial in discussions of the issue of children art and pornography. Yes children are sexual creatures (humans have erections in utero after all) and there is nothing unnatural or unhealthy in finding a child sexually attractive. It is an obsessive lust for sexual contact with children and overprotective elements in civilization which give rise to unhealthy or perverse behavior. A man is not a pedophile for desiring a younger sexual companion (though this does not necessarily mean that his intentions are not predatory or tabu oriented). The deeper social issue is not whether these particular pictures are art or child pornography but what they represent in the context of society at large. For the sake of argument I will describe pornography as something which is designed solely to incite lust for profit. Some of Mr. Henson’s works are overtly sexual and erotic but seem to be composed with aesthetic principals rather than superficial masturbatory intentions. The pictures are artistic and appear to be more cerebral than visceral. But the supposed intent and the obvious talent involved are all that separate these images from those found on prepubescent model sites (such as the one which resulted in two men being prosecuted in Florida). An image which exploit’s the sexuality of a child is simply an image which exploit’s the sexuality of a child. Whether it is artistically created or directly intended to evoke lust is irrelevant when confronting the photographs on base terms. Maybe someone finds these pictures sexually satisfying because he likes his kiddi porn to have some class. Would this outlook change the picture in its essence any more than understanding of the photographer’s intent? Is the subject being exploited to serve the ego of an artist or the profit of a pornographer and why should the difference matter? Is the subject aware enough to deal with, and not be psychologically damaged by, the adult intentions he/she are involved in? Does the fact that there are prepubescent children mimicking sexual dances on YouTube reveal exploitation or innocent play? Is a film involving children in sexual situations (Sweet Movie, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Les Diables, Fat Girl, Lolita, Bastard Out of Carolina...etc.) socially appropriate merely because some elitist group declares them to be art? If people are truly concerned with the psychological welfare of children then should children even be exposed to television or used in films at all? There seems to be a great deal of confusion concerning freedom of expression and the potential negative influences of exposure of growing minds to adult fantasy and concepts. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not the internet is a devil’s playground and a mind that is still maturing into an understanding of reality being exposed to confronting expressions of the conflicted masses can be damaged by the process. These particular pictures (Bill Henson's) are not controversial because they have naked children in them. They are controversial because of the complex and somewhat unsettling notions that they inspire in the minds of viewers. Should they be banned because some people find them “revolting”? I cannot justify the idea of censoring images because one finds them offensive, though I do believe that free speech is a double edged sword. Censorship at its healthiest is simply respecting the fact that many different sensibilities exist in a social order and that some sensibilities can be distorted or damaged by exposure to certain things. Censorship at its worst is a symptom of fascism and intolerance. At any rate, censorship will always be a relevant issue as long as children are a part of society. Are children merely annoying creatures that spoil our fun as adults? Are children just potential subjects of lust and culturally acceptable abuses? Personally I see children as complicated animals who need to be protected and nurtured in a manner tempered with insight and not hatred and fear. I am not sure if this is possible in the contemporary world, with hypocrisy and conflicting views at every turn, but I do believe in the effort.

Ok well
I'm 14 and i see this as art but I guess it all depends on your view on it.

If you see it as pornography well then you must see it sexually. Have you ever looked past the picture? look at most artworks and theres a message which displays meaning behind it like Vincent Van Goghs works.

Like 65000 People saw those pictures the people that see threw the image. But the people that don't understand art all they see is boobs and a vagina.

So what exactly does that say about them. The children in those pictures had the choice they weren't forced to have pictures taken of them and where counseiled though it all and were taken threw the process of Bill Hensons Art.

But honestly I'm sure there are plenty of other artworks displaying this so called pornography as some of you pedofiles see it. So why the pin poitn at Bill Henson?

But i do understand the line between art and reality. So the opinion is upon who sees these pictures.

The problem is this line stops the viewing of these pictures because in reality anything can be art I could draw a penis and call it art and you wouldn't be able to do anything.

But really you adults treating us 'adolescents' as children when really we can make decisions and if we screw up on making decisions what can you do? How can u learn?

Life is about art everywhere you go art will be following you and if its naked children deal with it.

I mean like children put pictures of themselves on the internet and videos that are way worse than those pictures Bill Henson took. Have you been on some of the sites seriously internet and porn is our generation and if art is a part of that deal with it.

This seemed to be ok 5 years ago:

The comments were interesting to read on that page

I was speaking to a pornographer the other day, he was Dutch,, he said Henson was 'classic' child pornography, why can't that be an 'expert' view?

I bet I could also rope in a dozen pedophiles to testify in court that its classic child pornography.

So, give me a break, they're naked because the truth is naked, well, ya know, lets just call it child porn, Bill's problems, at airpotrs, are only just beginning.

The classification board clears child porn all the time, the stuff the FBI, NCMEC, IWF send to it, Bill Henson is the last in a line of free passes.

Henson shouldn't be allowed on school property for any reason, he shouldn't be allowed in eastern Europe, Cambodia etc.

It is up to the people of Oz, to wise-up, stop being hicks, and sort out your child pornographers.

That Alison Croggon personality, she is a craven ass-kisser, the thing that pushed the limit with me was her scamming her blog-readers with fake stuff about Operation Centurion et alia.

In a way that was inevitable, Alison's problem is not with Hetty Johnston, its the FBI, Interpol, NCMEC, CEOP, Scotland Yard, they're the folks bugging her.

Henson's stuff *is* classified as child porn in London, that's a fact, for sure, not arguable, why should it not be, it looks like child pornography.

The thing about Croggon is that she'll grab a big lie or a small lie, she doesn't care. She has no sense of integrity, that's her problem.

Croggon posted a cite to 'The Porn Report' people, I mean if she ws trying to think things through, why use pro-porn fanatics as an alibi for Bill, she's kind of dumb.

Or maybe she isn't, maybe she knew that we knew, a few secrets relating to that thing, the deal is this, the porn repoty people have a view of total pedophilisa on the net, it's a figure.

I can make those numbers up, without leaving the ranks of the teaching profession for USA, UK, Canada, Australia, new Zealand.

So the PR peoplke say X for 'the entire world' and I, who have been putting pedophiles in jail, can more or less reach the total using just teachers in the English speaking developed world.

So who is right? As if you had to ask, Croggon is the person dealing in terminological inexactitudes,

look at it this way, a small nook in Croatia had thousands of IP addresses from Oz, and more hits, millions than your major news web-sites,

"To give another example of the scale of the problem, in 2004 the biggest police operation ever mounted in Australia to target consumers of child pornography netted 194 men out of a population of 20 million."

Alison's cite. So in Croatia you did ten times that in one hit leaving the total for the other 99.99 to be added, the smallest estimate based on IP tracking for Oz, is 300,000 active pedophiles.

Henson's material looks like classi child pornography, because pedophilia is well on the way to being normalized, Alison Croggon is an apologist for the mainstreaming of child pornography.

Bill Henson will not be visiting the UK for a while, because what he does *is* child pornography in my country.

Gregory Carlin
Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

I'm a 16 I think that this issue is being almost entirely dealt with by adults. I absolutely love how adults feel that all children especially teens are so desprately naive and that we can't handle ourselves or think for ourselves.

I think that if the girls in those pictures had level headed intelligent parents, even though they are obviously very open-minded, that they would have discussed this with them and not made the decision on a whim. Teens are completely capable of logical thought and, here's the shocker, able to think of their futures and the consequences of their actions.

I do not think that these girls were completely unaware of what may happen if they posed for these photos just like brooke shields when she played a child prostitute. I think that people, especially these zealots who think everyones 'plight' should be their cause, should look at television and networks like Disney that PRIDE themselves on being child friendly even though the sexual inuendo in half of there shows is definitely innappropriate for their target audience, and perpetuating the fact that teen agers and even younger kids are becoming increasingly sexual.

Even still, I don't agree with it. This is not an excuse for Bill Henson to decided to take nudes of 13-14 year old girls. Yes, Mia, there are Cherubs in european churches, and there are probably some creeps that get off on those sorts of images but cherubs are in the image of babies, and for the great majority of people baies are not seen sexually. Teen girls are, the hyper-sexualized images of teen girls in magazines, and in movies, its super obvious when there are whole websites dedicated to counting down the time until the next teen starlett turns 18.

Whether its direct or indirect the image of the young innocent teengirl has been hyper sexualized for quite some time in the popular fantasies of the school girl, or the hot cheerleader. Generally men aren't picturing 30 year old women in those costumes.

I don't think that these pictures were meant to be porn, even though the second one looks disturbingly like a Victoria's Secret ad, but I do believe that they crossed the line of tasteful art. The concept of innocence and vulneraility, in my opinion, could have been expressed in pictures with out nude 13 year olds. The exploration of 'teen eroticism' doesn't seem very worth while to me. and honestly the fact that adults are interested instead of concerned about it is KIND OF WIERD. All it it to me is someone else romanticising the very UNROMANTIC world of teen sexuality. And I totally agree, even as art these are incredibly boring and somewhat mediocre, I've seen more interesting photographs @ my schools art show.

I basically think the Oz arts world are a pack of morally repugnant ego-maniacs, there is plenty of evidence to support that view

Anybody who compares Guillermo Habacuc Vargas to a sane perspective should book into a clinc. Call me a Woswer, I don't care, people into that dog-art thing are mentally ill.

I don't need to be told that the Vatican has bought several large ( non-sexual) paintings of trussed up Japanese schoolgirls or that the Metropolitan Center for Pedophiia in the Arts thinks Henson is fan tazy dozy.

It's like this, the arts in Oz, are playing mind games with the AFP and the political establishment, and they clearly *hate* the ordinary joe public.

It is creepoid sexual transgresives who are either (a) pedophiles or (b) pro-pedophiles.

It is (a) or (b) or both.

What I simply can't find, is a sense of 'normal'.

Gregory Carlin

Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition