Would Jock Sturges be arrested/hassled today?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by WarEaglemtn, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. WarEaglemtn

    WarEaglemtn Member

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    It was 1990 when internationally known photographer Jock Sturges had the FBI visit his studio and cart off much of his work and gear. This happened in San Francisco as a result of a lab technician calling police to report 'questionable photos' of juveniles. The lab manager (if memory serves correctly) was held for a couple of days. Sturges studio was invaded by FBI who carted his stuff off, ruining a lot of photo paper, film and negatives in the process. It was dragged out and finally everything was returned and no charges were ever filed.

    With the worry today of kiddie porn, could this happen again?
     
  2. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    Of course it would.

    I didn't know it was a lab technician that did the job... what a jerk ! That's why I develop and print myself all the illegal porn stuff I shoot... :smile:
     
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I dont see any difference between 1990 and 2006. Its not like some sort of cultural or legislative revolution too place since then.


    Wayne
     
  4. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Sure it can. All it takes is a zealous prosecutor, or someone in authority (however slight) that has higher aspirations. Take the current fiasco at Duke University as an example. When the case proves to have no merit, sometimes there is an apology, but more often, not one. A smart agent or prosecutor would thoroughly research the merits before making a move.
     
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Of course he would, we are a less tolerant, more cynical society.
     
  6. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Agree entirely.

    I am much more cautious nowadays about shooting photos of kids on the street etc. than I once was. Times have changed. People are much more suspiscious. And I am now an "older" man (i.e. "perv with camera") when I'm out there shooting.

    Sad reality - that isn't going to change for the better - at least in my lifetime.
     
  7. Christopher Nisperos

    Christopher Nisperos Member

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    Funny thing, I used to work at the lab in question (Newell Color Lab) just a few years before the polemic. I certainly do remember seeing work go through that lab (a good lab, by the way) which would have been considered a lot "harder" than Sturges' images. Plus, San Francisco isn't exactly the bastion of prudish conservatism .. Looks as though somebody must have had a bad day in the QC department!

    Anyway, to be clear, child pornography didn't just become an issue with the Jock Sturges case. Neither is it unique to the U.S. Right now, here in France, a case is just coming to trial as a result of a lawsuit filed in 2000 by a French child pornography watchdog association called "La Mouette" (The Gull) against Bordeaux's contemporary art museum, CAPC, for their exhibit entitled "Presumés Innocents".

    Here's a re-write/translation/condensation I did for the forum from the
    information I gleaned from googling (SOURCES:http://www.art-themagazine.com/pages/paris3.htm, http://www.artcult.com/nf135.html):

    "Presumés Innocents" was a group show presented from June 8 to October 1, 2000, as being about childhood— but the suit charges that it was more about child pornography and violence against children (I never saw the exhibit, so can't make any comments about the pieces shown).

    The two hundred paintings, photographs, videos and other installations
    presented by the CAPC during the four month exhibit were created by world-famous artists such as Nan Goldin, Garry Gross, Christian Boltanski, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Annette Messager, Tony Oursler ... among others, and the group wants the artists not only to explain what their message is to a judge, but is demanding that several of the pieces be destroyed (!!).

    The association is asserting that some of the images bordered on being pedophilia, while at the same time, the exhibit had been visited by 1500 school children (my comment: Does that mean they're afraid of creating "child pedophiles?" ..or am I missing something?)

    The museum feels that the charges are without basis and that they are in fact an impingement on the freedom of expression and the dignity of the artists, especially since the museum took the trouble to post a large "warning" sign at the entrance of the exhibit and, moreover, school visits were done with the accompaniment of adults and guides, and that certain pieces which might be consider too shocking, where avoided.

    Here is a list of the artists:
    SHERMAN, Cindy (1954- ) / WARHOL, Andy (1928-1987) / BOLTANSKI, Christian (1944- ) / DIJKSTRA, Rineke (1959- ) / PARADEIS, Florence (1964- ) / GASKELL, Anna / LÉVÈQUE, Claude (1953- ) / CATTELAN, Maurizio (1960- ) / MOFFATT, Tracey (1960- ) / McCARTHY, Paul (1945- ) / HYBERT, Fabrice (1961- ) / MESSAGER, Annette (1943- ) / RULLIER, Jean-Jacques / GOBER, Robert (1954- ) / GORDON, Douglas (1966- ) / BENNING, Sadie / OURSLER, Tony (1957- ) / WEINER, Lawrence (1942- ) / TILLMANS, Wolfgang (1968- ) / HÖLLER, Carsten (1961- ) / BEECROFT, Vanessa (1969- ) / LAVIER, Bertrand (1949- ) / KELLEY, Mike (1954- ) / BULLOCH, Angela (1966- ) / JOSEPH, Pierre (1965- ) / MANTELLO, Larry / RONDINONE, Ugo (1964- ) / SÉCHAS, Alain (1955- ) / STOKKER, Lily van der (1954- ) / DARGER, Henry / BOURGEOIS, Louise (1911- ) / GOLDIN, Nan (1953- ) / KILIMNIK, Karen (1955- ) / THORNTON, Leslie / COLLISHAW, Mat / MORELLET, François (1926- ) / TROCKEL, Rosemarie (1952- ) / STARR, Georgina (1968- ) / RAYNAUD, Jean-Pierre (1933- ) / COMBAS, Robert / CLOSKY, Claude (1963- ) / DUNNING, Jeanne (1960- ) / BOCHNER, Mel (1940- ) / DUMAS, Marlene (1953- ) / CLARK, Larry (1943- ) / GONZALEZ-FOERSTER, Dominque (1965- ) / QUARDON, Françoise / BREUNING, Olaf (1970- ) / PARRENO, Philippe (1946- ) / SCHER, Julia / LAMSWEERDE, Inez van (1963- ) / GETTE, Paul-Armand / KLAT / PEYTON, Elizabeth (1965- ) / Arte e infancia-Exposicións / KRYSTUFEK, Elke (1970- ) / DELLER, Jeremy / SCHORR, Collier / BARTOLOMÉO, Joël (1957- ) / ROSENBERG, Aura / ACKERMANN, Rita / SHRIGLEY, David (1968- ) / EDMIER, Keith (1967- ) / OATES, Daniel / BONIN, Cosima von / HOMMA, Takashi / JAMIE, Cameron (1969- ) / COMTE, Serge / DELIBIOT, Marie-Céline / GASTALDON, Vidya & WICKER, Jean-Michel / GODARD, Jean-Luc & MIEVILLE, Anne-Marie / GOLDBERG, Mara / GONZALES, Mark / GROSS, Gary / KORINE, Harmony / MILTOS, Manetas / MARTÍNEZ, Roberto (1981- )


    .
     
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  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    a acquaintance in boston had a similar thing happen to her around 1997+/-. she brought film to a well respected lab just to be processed, and the tech printed them and called the cops. the cops then did their thing, and told their 5 year old kid ( who the photographs were of ) that he was going to be taken away from his parents ... it would happen today in a heartbeat ...
     
  9. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Pedophiles use digital nowadays, that's why its common to find news articles of countries around the world where the police busts groups of people with questionable material in their hard drives.
     
  10. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Things have changed beyond all recognition in the UK since 1990. I have a book called the Darkroom Book by Jack Scofield. In the section on using the perfect neg for colour filtration he uses as an example a picture of a naked small child with its back to the camera in a garden leaning over a playpool with different coloured plastic building blocks.

    Can you imagine any author using such a picture today to illustrate the range of colours including flesh colours for a perfect neg? Photography books not so long ago were full of what was considered amusing shots of naked kids in fountains, pools and beaches

    Another example: There's a marvellous Victorian kids' roundabout in the Isle of Man that's powered by water. Its speed can be controlled by other kids or parents by a lever which controls the flow of water. Such things are preserved and not vandalised there.

    I was waiting for a couple of kids to get on the roundabout before taking the picture, otherwise it's just a piece of machinery. My wife said: " You're too late, you can't take it now. There's a couple of kids about to get on it.

    It stopped me in my tracks. I waited until they got off.

    The dual tragedy is that: 1. 10-15 years ago she would never have said that but did so thinking this was the "right" thing to say and not realising that she wouldn't have said it 10-15 years ago

    2. I decided she was right. It was safer not to take it

    pentaxuser
     
  11. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Would anyone here wish that people were not very careful about child pornography?

    Is it easy to view a photo and say "that is just a cute photo taken by a loving parent" or "that photo was taken to stir up the lust of a pedophile" ?
    Well in some cases it would be easy to tell, in other cases it could be very difficult.

    The photographer's decent intent is no guard against a pedophile's obscene excitement.

    It is a difficult issue. I, for one, would choose to have people very aware of the possibility of a child's danger even at the inconvenience to a photographer.
     
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  12. wirehead

    wirehead Member

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    *sigh*

    I have a number of pictures of attractive young women in vinyl and fishnets. For most folks, they are artistic pictures. For some, they are spank-pics, despite my artistic intent.

    Because of how a relatively small number of folks react to my pictures, are they inherrently pornographic?
     
  13. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Would Jock Sturges be arrested/hassled today?

    Yes and no.

    We are hyper sensitive to the whole child porno stuff today, but also since he was arrested once and I believe he won his case as well as became world famous, I doubt that he'd be arrested again.

    As for the intent issue that Claire mentioned, I believe "intent" is a basic concept in law. Just because a pedophile likes pictures of naked children, shouldn't mean that people that take them should be prosecuted. Pedophiles probably like picture of clothed children as well. Should we be be held responsible for the deviant actions of others. On the other hand if pictures are taken for the express use by and for pedophile then that is probably a different matter.

    It's a tricky question.

    People photographing children in any sort of sexual situation should of course be taken out and shot.


    Michael
     
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  15. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I disagree Mike. They should not be taken out and shot. They should be shot where they were apprehended. Not later..NOW will do nicely.
     
  16. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

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    But I think things will return back to normal over time. Anybody remember when satanists were everywhere, from mutilating cows to infiltrarting childcare services and some of the really outrages court cases that followed? Just as the collective guilt of having for decades ignored and not belived in many of the cases of institutional abuse will pass, so will seeing a peadophile behind every other tree.
     
  17. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    Hey! let's push for banishing digital on that basis. Arigram, you're a genius! :D

    Steve
     
  18. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    As a Lab tech for 30 years. It's our responsiblity to question images of underaged, underclothed minors. We were told that Children may not understand their rights and feel unable to protest against an adult or understand their situation. We understood when it was art, when it was a family event photo and when it was not.
    We were also tested by local and federal forces. If we didn't alert properly. We, the lab folks, would be fined.
    I was working in another lab on the Bay area when the Sturges incident happened. It rocked our world. We had the feds, city officals and our bosses explain to us the whats and therefores.
    I believe the lab technician was not a "Jerk" I met him. He's was a nice guy. He was doing his job as I would do mine.
    Maybe it is a good thing maybe it's not. The best policy is that you do you're own processing.
     
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  19. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    If he wasn't, he would be able to understand himself that Sturge's images were not pornographic. And he would understand that by reporting him he'd create too much harm to art and society.
     
  20. noblebeast

    noblebeast Member

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    One thing for sure: Sturges better not try to post any of his images to the APUG Gallery or else one or two members will leave in a huff! And if that's too soon they can leave in a minute and a huff...

    Joe
     
  21. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    That is really not a universal view, Sturges' critical reputation notwithstanding!
     
  22. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    I try to avoid determinations of probable cause from, say...lab technicians.
     
  23. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The original poster referred to Sturges as "internationally known". If my memory is correct, he actually was a very obscure San Francisco-area dance photographer at the time of his encounter with the legal system, and it was that event that brought him to the attention of the international art world. The photographs that created the stir were some color snapshots that he had done in a naturist resort in Northern California as "studies" for his large format monochrome work.

    I like Sturges' work a lot - I am amazed at the naturalness that he is able to achieve under highly unnatural circumstances (the large camera, not the nudity of the subjects), and I think his work is beautiful.

    But there are two questions that I have always wondered about. The first is would we have ever known about Jock Sturges if the experience with that legendary lab technician had not occurred?

    The other question is can the man make photographs of anything other than nude figures in the environment? I have nothing against nude figures in the environment, but it seems to me that if he is the consummate photographer that he would like us to believe that he is, he would have a broader body of work.

    So the paradox that I struggle with is that while I like Jock Stuges and his work, I have this nagging feeling that he is an opportunist who is exploiting the unfortunate experience he had in 1990. And had that event not occurred, we would never have heard of him. I would be very disappointed if that were the case.

    And as far as the lab technician is concerned - he was a technician and his role was to process film. Society also asked him to sound an alarm if he saw things that suggested depicted inappropriate activities. He was not expected to investigate the background and make judgements about what he found - his role was merely to observe and report, and that's what he did.

    Instead, my issue with the rigid government bureaucrats who chose to be blind to the difference between an abusive situation and artistic depiction of a healthy but unconventional life style, and who were arbitrarily overzealous in persecuting Sturges simply because they didn't like what they saw in his work. That's the same kind of narrow minded extremist thinking that we've seen with John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and its dangerous.
     
  24. arigram

    arigram Member

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    What do you think if I told you that one very celebrated modern greek poet has written a multi-tome epic that depicts constantly graphic sexual scenes with very young girls? Or that other great greek poets, including nobel prized Elytis, often mention nubible nude young girls dancing around carelessly and sometimes describing vividly their charms in their poems?
    I guess it should be ok because its just text and unlike photography, no actual model took part in the creation, but then again books have been banned for their content and authors held responsible.
    We might live under different societies, but can't see many being mature and well behaved enough that Nobokov couldn't be held responsible the actions of his readers...
     
  25. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    Sorry, but I find this statement ridiculous. A complete assumption on your part.

    B.
     
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  26. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, he has yet to post to the APUG gallerie. If nobody knew who he was, or had ever seen his pphotographs, what would the reaction be? What of Edward's photo of Neil?
     
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