Friday, May 23, 2008
What's new in "pedo" culture? Ask Bill Henson, whose exhibition opening at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery featuring nude thirteen year old models, was shut down last night by police. According to The Australian, "Police said they wanted to speak to one of the models before deciding whether the show would go ahead." How controversial! It's like the time Juan Davila's Stupid as a Painter was impounded by police in 1982. Bill Henson has been making similar looking images for years - alas, the tiresomeness of it all. In fact, he has courted similar controversy as his work frequently displays bored, naked youth cavorting in moody landscapes.
I'm not into making grand claims about the moral code of art featuring twinky pre-teen talent, but I do think that police should shut down shows like this. Not because of child protection - that is so passe. Rather, police should shut down shows by artists who keep on churning out the same old, same old. Seen one Bill Henson, seen them all. I would reproduce one here but it seems the Roslyn Oxley9 website has been shut down too. Heavens to Betsy!
I have no real thoughts on whether sexually charged depictions of kids are appropriate in artistic contexts. It's a rather boring debate. If the semi-formed pre-pubescent body is your thing, well so be it, who am I to judge? Sometimes I wonder whether artists into this kind of thing (Larry Clark is another case in point) should just spare us all, get it out of their system and fuck their models once and for all. Maybe then we'll be spared of the ongoing fantasy.