There's more context and history there than just the label of "art." This is one image that is part of a meaningful body of work that affects how we read it.
Some will say that each individual image needs to stand on its own, but as I see it, some work that way, and some don't. An individual Becher photograph of a water tower is nothing special, but nine of them in one frame is interesting. Nan Goldin's work is narrative and project oriented, and makes more sense as a book or an exhibition than as so many individual photographs. If you look at the photograph in isolation, then I would say you're not really looking at Goldin's work, which is a project.
I'll buy that. That's actually a really compelling argument.
I just googled the image and had a look. There are a number of people here who refer to this as "natural" play. I don't see it that way. The older girl standing up doesn't look all that natural to me. To me it looks like she was dressed up in a way that is intentionally a bit sexual. If she were running around in her underwear or for that matter completely naked, I'd find the "natural" argument a lot more compelling.
But the image looks to me like it was posed - not just a capture of a couple of little girls fooling around. I'm still not sure it rises to the level of kiddie porn, but it sure is close. I am quite sure that if I were to take a picture like that I would be arrested, tried and convicted.
They're just playing. Possibly the photographer set the play up. Does it matter?
Belly dancers are sexy. A little girl pretending to be a belly dancer is not.
I think is does matter - I question whether or not they're just playing. it looks to me like the photographer dressed up the older girl in a provocative fashion. maybe they're just playing, maybe they were told to play limbo, or maybe they were simply told to pose that way.
As I said, I'm not sure this rises to the level of porn - I do think it rises to the level of exploitation.
Well, the book "Show Me" apparently had no bad effects. Kids running naked and etc have apparently no effect. See National Geographic where children up to about 10 run naked.
I'm not in favor of this, but it is a matter of culture.
Yeah, of course. Kids being nude is no big deal, in public or not. Same with photography thereof. But this image kind of jumps into an uncomfortable area that goes a little beyond just nudity. Perhaps just in the eye of the beholder, but that's how I see it.