Bill Henson Hysteria

May 26, 2008

Australian photographer Bill Henson is causing controversy and a stir at present with his recent, now banned exhibition, at Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. See here. And here.

Another Gallery has also removed his work and an article shows how the Government has backed his exhibitions (of naked teen photography and other subjects) before, showing their hypocrisy. See here.

It all seems absurd to me. Henson’s work is clearly art and this attack upon him smells of a media beat up. Everybody is caving into this hysteria about his works and removing them from galleries. Until recently he was considered controversial with the art world and public alike, but respected. What has changed? The issues raised are clearly issues of artistic freedom.

To make it even funnier, all the reactionary press condemning the exhibition, all publish reprints or portions of the art they supposedly have a moral objection with. Thereby, bringing wide public attention to it and also implicating themselves as distributors and exhibitors of the art they, supposedly, want to ban. I have reprinted a photo all these media sources have been running with.

As long as the photographic subjects were willing, had permission from their parents, etc., I can’t see the problem. Henson work is not overtly erotic or pornographic in tone either, it has a dark, moody, slightly sickly quality to it, that goes against it being labeled ‘porn’.

What do Idea Fix readers think of the controversy? It just seems like the latest witch hunt and example of repressed sexual hysteria, to me.

2 Responses to “Bill Henson Hysteria”

  1. Rups said

    A completely irreverent response in some respects but TISM made a point with … in regards to the models …

    And I guess that Nabokov had to go somewhere … or else we’d be lethargically flicking through naked pictures of tortured Iraqis on the net going ho-hum.

    Rups 🙂

  2. Kyle said

    Funnily enough the age published the uncensored version of that image so should Bill Henson be found guilty certainly they too are guilty of child porn publication. Bill Henson’s pictures clearly haven’t nor would’ve ever inspired any body to go out and be a paedophile however the media attention have certainly brought his art to the attention of paedophiles. The girl and of course her parents would certainly never had agreed to mass media publishing her nudity yet without either’s permission that’s what is happening, who was it that was being exploitative again?

    Man if only Whitehouse were still making music, I’m sure could produce a lovely song about this issue.

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