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Old 07-23-2008, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
Pictures/Paintings of Naked Children: Art or Otherwise

Is it okay for children to pose naked for what some would consider art?

When the nudes are paintings or sculture, the line isn't so blurry.

With photographs of nude children, the child porn line gets crossed really quickly.

Would that same photo of a child of no relationship get a 'non-artist' arrested for child porn?

Australian artists are defending the controversial decision of Art Monthly magazine to run a photograph of a naked child on its front cover.

The front cover of the magazine features Melbourne photographer Polixeni Papapetrou's 2003 photo of her naked daughter, who was six at the time.
The New South Wales Government is referring the magazine to the Classification Board.

The Prime Minister has said he cannot stand the picture and federal Arts Minister Peter Garrett has said the magazine was being needlessly provocative.

The girl's father, art critic Robert Nelson, says the family has no regrets about the photograph and he has rejected the Prime Minister's criticism of the work.

"There's never been any study that suggests that there's a link between paedophilia and art," he said.

"Unfortunately we're working without any science; people are just making these assertions about protecting children, which is unarguable - I mean why would you not want to [protect them]?

"But no-one's really explained, protect them from what."

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says no child that age could give their consent to such work but Mr Nelson says Mr Rudd should back up his concerns with evidence.

"I think he's welcome to have an opinion on art - I think that's to be encouraged," Mr Nelson said.

"I think the problem arises when, as he did with Bill Henson, he declared that the images are revolting and linked them to the protection of children without a shred of evidence."

Olympia, now 11, said she did not believe the photograph amounted to abuse and was upset with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who said he hated the shot.

"I'm really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd had to say about this picture," Olympia said outside her Melbourne home today, where she was accompanied by her father, The Age art critic Robert Nelson.

"I love the photo so much. It is one of my favourites, if not my favourite photo, my mum has ever taken of me and she has taken so many photos of me.

"I think that the picture my mum took of me had nothing to do with being abused and I think nudity can be a part of art."

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson says he will ask police to investigate whether an art magazine broke the law when it used a photograph of a naked six-year-old girl on its cover.

Using the photograph sent a "two-fingered salute" to the rest of Australia, Dr Nelson said today.

He would ask police to investigate whether Art Monthly magazine had broken any laws by publishing the 2003 image of Melbourne girl Olympia Nelson on its July cover and two shots inside.

The head of photography at the Australian National University (ANU) said the magazine had a duty to cover the Bill Henson saga.

"The original Bill Henson photographs have been found to be OK," Martin Jolley said on ABC radio.

"These are significant works of arts and they're contributors to the national conversation about the world that we are creating for our children.

"If you are the editor of a magazine which is meant to be reporting on Australian Art ... you would be derelict in your duty if you didn't actually discuss the debate."

Police seized a number of Henson's photographs featuring near-naked or naked children from a Sydney art gallery recently but they were returned without charges being laid.

Source, from the same article as above
I think it truly depends on the composition of the piece.

I think from a painting standpoint, that it's objective. The artist can choose whether or not to portray a sense of realism, or have more creative leeway with what they do rather that just a photograph that shows immediately the realism / sense of what is going on (and I'm not trying to put down photography, btw..).
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Old 07-23-2008, 03:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Background in summary

Are debating this situation - or the issue in general. (Go with the latter I think....)

A quick background. The situation in AU as I understand it is:

- photos by a famous portrait photographer, of a nude girl are displayed in private gallery
- a fuss is made
- police investigate
- prime minister condemns photos
- art world is outraged, including film celebs
- police do not lay any charges - and return photos

Some time later

- magazine/journal puts unrelated nude photo of girl on front cover
- prime minister condemns photos
- more articles pro/con appear in all newspapers

Last edited by Nimetic; 07-23-2008 at 04:05 PM.. Reason: Automerged doublepost - fixed
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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As long as it's not overtly sexual (which is obviously a horribly subjective proposition), I don't have a specific problem with it. I think there's a real desire to have no tolerance strict liability for underage nudity because it can be very hard to determine either if it's overtly sexual or if there was some sort of undue influence involved in having the child disrobe.

Given the risks of abuse, I'd say that's not a horrible policy.
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Old 07-23-2008, 05:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
Interesting Topic...In the 1982 film "Pretty Baby" A 12 yr old Brooke Sheilds is show topless and nude (from behind) on
a couple of occasions.I wonder what the reaction would be if the film were released today ?
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Old 07-24-2008, 05:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
Its so sad that repression and predators and mental illness have made it so that even the most innocent beautys motives need to be questioned.

I realize that nowadays its better to be safe than sorry......but I just find it sad. There are pictures and paintings throughtout history where the children happen to be naked, which is not necessarily the focus and is incidental. But the world has become so corrupt and paranoid and litigious now. Prohibition seems to constantly outweigh education.

It just bums me out. It would never occur to me, unless someone pointed it out externally, that looking at a naked, innocent cherub in a painting in a fine art museum is offensive, sexual, or inappropriate, and to me thats the equivalent of a tasteful fine art photograph that you might find in a modern gallery that happens to depict a naked child.

I think that the idea of sex floats through most peoples head fleetingly, because we are humans, were very visual, and were a reproductive species - but not like a desire, more like an awareness of our biology.

I know that there are child predators out there... Im not naive. Im just saying how unfortunate it is that everyone has to think like a victim at all times, no matter what were doing.

So tiresome.
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Old 07-24-2008, 05:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
Please touch this.
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As they say... the difference between art and pornography is the lighting.

I believe that the outlaw of nude child pictures has only served to sexualize them even more. These days, its all about finding the next kink to satisfy yourself because you burn out on all the normal shit due to its overabundance. The only reason why most people (not even pedophiles, but the ones who are scared of naked children) find a nude child remotely sexual is because of the rarified air they exist in.
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Old 07-24-2008, 05:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: DC/Coastal VA
The picture itself shows nothing. Her breast is exposed. I have more boob. And I'm not a man-boob guy.

This area had the same argument, albeit an older girl, last week. A high school senior won an art contest with a nude self portrait. It was tasteful and not erotic at all.

The newspaper sponsoring the contest threw out the judgement (and contacted all other media to breathlessly know that it was withdrawing the award). The judge's second choice? A sculpture of a nude, pregnant torsoe.

Threw out that one too. I don't know the final winner. Maybe a tracing of Richie Rich. Clothed.

Child porn should be against the law. Nude portraits should not.
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Last edited by Poppinjay; 07-24-2008 at 05:57 AM..
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Old 07-24-2008, 06:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
Ive seen some photos taken by Annie Liebowitz where she took some gorgeous nude photos of her own children. I believe shes been given some grief over her choice of subject in these, but theyre really quite beautiful and her children, now grown, love them.

So I did a little search and I hadnt realized that Liebowitz was the photographer of the recent Miley Cyrus photo that caused quite a scandal. The focus has been centered around condemning the child rather than the photographer, who has no relation to the child, in this case. Interesting flip of the blame there.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: Seattle, WA

As great as pornography is, I'm okay saying that no child needs to be photographed naked, whether it's art or pornography I think it has enough potential for abuse that it shouldn't be allowed.
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:34 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Location: NYC
There is so much we can use and do for art, and such more possible damage that can be done by encouraging anyone with child pornography, that I feel the potential harm is not worth it. There is a lot more that artist can work on in his/her life and not run out of content.
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Old 07-24-2008, 05:07 PM   #11 (permalink)
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We all know the difference between art and porn when we see it. To say that we shouldn't allow art involving nude children because we're afraid of pedophiles is blaming the victim to the same degree as claiming that women shouldn't wear anything remotely provocative because it might encourage a rapist.

Child porn is abuse. Art isn't.
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Old 07-25-2008, 05:17 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MSD View Post
Child porn is abuse. Art isn't.
It's just that simple.

We can and will beat this now well and truly kaput steed, but it has run its course.

Getting naked is just something that kids do. My daughters do it all the time. (Heck, my brother used to run around the house naked until he was 17.) Getting naked and coming on is not something kids do. The pornography of a picture of a naked kid being a kid exists only and entirely in the mind of the viewer if it exists at all. If there is fault, it is with members of the audience, not the producers or the subjects of the pictures.
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