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  1. #11
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    A further twist to the whole saga, the Saatchi Gallery in London have "confirmed the picture was the same one seized from the "I Am a Camera" exhibition in 2001".

    This really does raise very serious issues about the management of the Baltic Art Center, particularly as the London police and CPS officials later backed down, saying there was no realistic prospect of securing a conviction in the case. It was the photographer they were considering charging.

    Ian
    Last edited by Ian Grant; 10-12-2007 at 06:40 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: typo

  2. #12

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    There seem to me to be several conflated issues here, only one of which is 'Is it obscene?' The big underlying question is 'What is art?' and another one is 'Who decides the answer to either question?' Then there's 'Do we ban all pictures of all children at all times because they might turn someone on?'

    Personally, I don't like the picture, but then, I don't like that style of photography (pseudo-snapshot, harsh flash, ugly backgrounds, awkward poses). Some do, and I suspect that if you do, it's probably quite good.

    The whole episode looks like to me is an unholy alliance of the Hitlerite attitude towards 'degenerate art' and gutter-press anti-paedophile hysteria. Apparently the picture has been exhibited outside the UK without any particular problems, and I believe it even appears in a book (source for both assertions: BJP). If there hadn't been all this fuss, I can't help feeling that Nan Goldin fans would have liked it and most others would have ignored it.

    None of this affects my views that it's in poor taste and an ugly picture; that it's probably quite a nice snap for the parents; and that trying to ban it as 'kiddie porn' is very nearly as sick as those who are turned on by it.
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  3. #13

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    Compare the relatively low-level of noise this has generated in the gutter press to the almightly bashing the Baltic would have got if a daily mail reader had reported seeing kiddie-porn at the exhibition?

    Like you Roger, I think its a crap photo, but I also think the photographer knowingly courted publicity when she published the image.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
    ...and I believe it even appears in a book (source for both assertions: BJP).
    If the book is the Devils Playground then it was on the shelf in Borders in London only two weeks ago when I was in there. It was sealed in celophone though I've seen the photo and didn't feel the need to see any more of the work.

    I think the exhibition centre's getting a lot of flak for being cautious. I think there are images such as this one that one person may find a work of art and others that find the picture distasteful even pornographic (someone must otherwise this fuss wouldn't have kicked up?).

  5. #15
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    Regardless of whether or not I like the image I object to being told by the police, the crown prosecution office, the government or anyone else for that matter, just what I can and cannot look at in an art exhibition. Clearly, if an image includes sexual activity against a child I'd join in the demands to remove it and take action against those who made the image, as well as the gallery who show it. This one did not and although it did show a child's genitals I personally was not disturbed by that. These things happen every day in some families throughout the world. How about images of naked children in African countries, are we going to see those banned too?
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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
    None of this affects my views that it's in poor taste and an ugly picture; that it's probably quite a nice snap for the parents; and that trying to ban it as 'kiddie porn' is very nearly as sick as those who are turned on by it.
    This and Les's comment best reflect my views. Its a sad day when the state tries to protect us from finding something evil in something that is inherently natural and innocent. This is fundamentally no different than making women cover themselves from head to toe so that men can be protected from lustful thoughts.

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  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    What ever we might think about an individual image, or the work as a whole, incidents like this show that common sense does not always prevail.
    Yeah, I don't think this is an issue for police officers as much as it is one of public debate. If the police would go after anybody, it would be Nan Goldin (still alive? I know nothing of her), but they'd really have to show something illegal was going on, which doesn't seem to be the case.

    Tasteless? Sure. Illegal? Doubtful (in this case).

    The whole episode looks like to me is an unholy alliance of the Hitlerite attitude towards 'degenerate art' and gutter-press anti-paedophile hysteria.
    I'm not advocating censorship. I'm advocating voluntarily staying clear of such works and not participating in them by viewing them - a personal approach, not a state approach. The reason is simply that I think it's harmful for the children involved, and I think we all share the responsibility for that. In any case, art-as-controversy is a ridiculous cliche; I think there have been enough artists by now who've made that trite little point
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  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by jd callow View Post
    This and Les's comment best reflect my views. Its a sad day when the state tries to protect us from finding something evil in something that is inherently natural and innocent. This is fundamentally no different than making women cover themselves from head to toe so that men can be protected from lustful thoughts.
    I'm pretty much the anti moral-crusader in most respects; adults can fuck themselves in any weird ways they want and in any combinations of genders and with any props they want, in public or in private, as far as I'm concerned. Hang a picture of a penis entering a vagina in a public place for all I care. Actually I encourage you to do so; it would be sort of a riot.

    But I think this image is potentially harmful. The kids can't give informed consent, and that alone is a major factor in the publication of this kind of private moment. In a different society with different attitudes about sex it might be perfectly fine, but the prevailing sentiment in north america and many parts of europe is that sexuality is private and in many circles even shameful (I disagree strongly with this, and would challenge it at any reasonable opportunity, but it's a fact). The public display of it in this case is therefore putting the kids in a position of exhibition that they may not be aware of at the time the image is taken, but may cause them shame and self-disgust in the future (or may have caused them such, as I think this image comes from the 70s or something doesn't it?). This is harmful. Children shouldn't need to bear the brunt of fringe adults' attempts to reform social norms, even if those adults' intentions are nothing but good. This kind of thing can hang over someone their whole life and taint it, subconsciously or consciously. That's not an experiment I'm willing to participate in or advocate for the sake of fighting censorship.
    Last edited by walter23; 10-12-2007 at 03:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  9. #19
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Walter, on the previous occasion the image was seized from the Saatchi gallery this Nan Goldin's image was returned to the Gallery by the Police and rehung. I should add two photographers images were seized in 2001, and returned, the press mainly centred on the other American photographer at the time.

    So what makes this even more of a farce is the Newcastle Police haven't done their work properly, and have behaved heavy handedly, and the gallery itself has shown gross incompetence. Whoever booked the exhibition should be severely reprimanded. I note it was an Assistant Director who called in the Police, but shouldn't he have know far earlier what they were actually exhibiting, after all the image in question is published in a book.

    The bottom line is the gallery should have known that image was potentially controversial, and also the outcome of the previous police investigation, they have actually caused a huge waste of Police time, and money.

    Lets face it the Police and CPS would get laughed out of court if they tried to charge Elton John with possessing child porn over an image like this. Alternately if Nan Goldin was prosecuted then no photo processor would be able to print any innocent images parents take of their young children naked.

    We might not like the images, and the way Nan Golding works but she is photographing aspects of modern society which many of us would prefer not to be associated with. Her work will grow in importance over the next few years because she transcends different strata's of society, and is documenting a way of life.

    Ian

  10. #20
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    Well, this was mentioned on another thread, but what about the book "Show Me"? It was endorsed by several prominent educators and religious groups in the 70s for being a quality sex eduation book. I guess today it is porn!

    PE

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