U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: slightly OT - another photographic controversy

Re: slightly OT - another photographic controversy

Well, Australia is no different than the U.S., really. Although the article below is from a UK newspaper, there was much controversy here in the U.S. over Annie Liebowitz's recent Vanity Fair photo of 15 year old Miley Cyrus. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/photography/ story/0,,2276876,00.html There are lots of blogs and American newspapers talking about this, too.

No matter what side you're on, one thing is absolutely certain with both these photographic "scandals." They each, in their own way, help put all the players in the news. Liebowitz, Miley Cyrus, her dad, and Vanity Fair are in the public eye (yet again). Vanity Fair sells more magazines, Liebowitz gets her name out there--again (does she really need it?), and Miley Cyrus continues to be over-exposed (so to speak).

In Hensen's case-- well, I never heard of him or this particular gallery before reading your post, and so now I have. If nothing else, it gave them both some (international?) publicity. So his "big dark moody C41 prints" of full frontal (?) naked adolescent females causes an uproar, and the ensuing controversy gets his name, and his gallery's name, out there. Do you think that's why he made the images, and why they chose to exhibit them?

I remember seeing a retrospective of Sally Mann's early photos of her children in NYC, many years ago. Though not all were shown, many were, and I thought they were really just incredible. The ones that had been the most controversial and questionable were not on exhibit, but I do remember a friend telling me that when Mann's book of all those images came out, she was at some book store in NY signing the books. To help advertise the publication of the book, they (the bookstore and the publisher with Mann's blessing, I guess) had picked one of the really controversial images and had it blown up poster size, and they were selling them as posters. My friend said she was standing in line to have her book signed, and there was some guy who was in line in front of her who (to her mind) looked seriously deranged. He didn't buy the book, but he bought one of the posters. She said she glanced at Sally Mann to see her reaction, and my friend swore she looked sick to her stomach. I can only imagine.

Anyway . . . I'm guessing all the major players in these cases subscribe to the belief that any publicity is good publicity.


On May 25, 2008, at 11:27 PM, Catherine Rogers wrote:

HI all,

As things seem to be a little quiet on the list, and I am putting off going into the studio to get down to some real work, I thought I'd pass on some news on a photgraphic scandal now in progress here in Sydney, Australia.

The list has had discussions about censorship and the photography of children or minors or young or under-legal-age people in the past. So if this is going to stir things up too much, please don't read on. It is not my intention to make trouble, simply to point out that, in this country at least, we have just returned to the 1960s - to a time when the police closed a shop in Oxford St in Sydney, and confiscated a poster of Michelangelo's statue of David! BIG sigh.

Anyway, late last week the police went to the opening of a show of photographs by Bill Henson and closed it down, based on their assesment of some of his images. The Gallery is regarded as a leading Sydney Gallery (Roslyn Oxley9) and Henson is very well known in Australia and was Australia's rep. at the Venice Biennale some years ago. Henson's significant reputation was forged, in fact, on the very stuff that has now been censored and taken away in a big truck by the police.

Henson makes his own big dark, moody, C41 prints (so this is not truly an alt proc item, but sometimes he tears the prints and gives them rough edges like an alt print...), staged scenes, with the main subjects of his work being mainly young people - adolescents - often very vulnerable looking young people. Henson's new images, which are frontal images of an adolescent female, have attracted outraged allegations of pornography and pedophillia - attracting bomb threats. Such are the kinds of people, who have not even seen the images, but who have condemmed them. Sadly even the new Prime Minister has weighed in with a stupid, ignorant comment, causing many of us who had recently held some hope for the renewed appreciation of the status of culture - totally degraded under the previous conservative Government - to feel downright disillusioned all over again.

It's a real ding-dong battle in the press, politics and the community, with pages of the newspaper covering the issue. Anyone interested can check out the (generally very parochial) Sydney Morning Herald, and this article for instance:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/artists-crying-out-for-martyrdom/ 2008/05/25/1211653841090.html

Also the Australian newspaper for its articles over the last few days.

Interestingly, on the weekend, the Australian newspaper's magazine featured an advertisement whcih, to my eyes, showed 2 young women who could have been 14 years old - the same age as one of Henson's subjects.

Both newspapers also feature some good photographs of the whole event including Henson's actual censored photographs - now complete with little black rectangles over the 'offending' body parts.

in despair,