Sunday, May 25, 2008
BILL HENSON - the saga continues...
Here is more about the case as it evolves in Oz....a remarkable case of great art being viewed as pornography by narrow-minded witchhunters. One cannot help noticing, that if you view the image above, which is the main one causing the controversy, that it puts into question the motivations of the viewer if they chose to see porn in this image. Its more disturbing to me that people can see something so vile in a beautiful portait of trust and innocence. These charges being made say more about the people creating the charges than the artist himself. What do they call that in psychology? ...'Projecting'?
FOR more than 25 years, Bill Henson has been called controversial — and bombastic, melodramatic and overwrought.
But it was only the art world that cared. Occasionally it voiced some discomfort, but mostly there was admiration for an artist whose moody use of light and dark subject matter was in the spirit of bad-boy painter Caravaggio and hard-drinking poet Baudelaire.
But this time the police have stepped in, a prime minister has called his pictures "revolting", and "that Bill Henson" has come close to being a notorious household name.
In 1983, he photographed a group of young nude junkies lying about in European museums. The toughest criticism he received was being called "obvious".
About 15 years he ago he produced a series of teenage nudes sprawled across car bonnets. Not titillating; more akin to a nightmarish car wreck. Some of this series of nudes are on show at the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, where they have barely raised an eyebrow, let alone a scandal.
Director of the gallery Ron Ramsey said yesterday: "When that series first went on show, internationally, there was more concern with the way they were presented … with rough edges and some of them actually torn. We have a couple in the collection and there has never been, as far as I know, any concern or complaints from the public.
"They had to go through the (Newcastle) council and the acquisition committee, and there were no objections raised. That's what's shocking everybody — that works similar to what we've put on display are now the subject of a police investigation and all this controversy. We're gobsmacked."
Forty years ago, artist Martin Sharp was famously tried for obscenity because of a piece he wrote for Oz magazine. Last week he received an invitation to Henson's exhibition, which features a topless 13-year-old.
"It was a powerful image. I would call it very beautiful in its vulnerability rather than 'revolting' as the Prime Minister has done," Sharp said. The photograph suggested the girl "gave her trust to Henson … and this trust has been violated by the police and Kevin Rudd's comments."