The lure of the Abject

Bill Henson has stumbled into a fairly precarious position. The Australian Prime Minister describes the work as “revolting” which in my humble opinion is a bit disappointing, because that seems a bit hysterical. I have seen the image in question, and considering the uncertainly legally speaking I cannot link to a reproduction, if there even was one, for you to decide. Instead I will describe it. It features a young female nude standing in front of a black background, her hands modestly covering her pubic region, her eyes reflectively cast down. A very beautiful girl, quite well photographed and artistically lit.

What exactly is revolting? The photograph is technically good. The lighting is sombre but well handled. Is it the the girl herself?

It seems the answer is the idea of photographing a teen nude is the “revolting” concept. Here we see simplistic thinking in play. There are child pornographic photographs in existence but we can’t see them nor do we wish to.
It is a photograph. It is a child. It is a nude. Ipso Facto MUST BE PORNOGRAPHY.

By that thinking all those baby nude photographs will have thousands, including mine, of parents in the dock.

Unfortunately this Victorian outburst is what creates the violent act, the exploitation, the idea that it is sexual.
They are displaying what is in THEIR MINDS NOT MINE.

I do not immediately jump to the conclusion that nakedness means sex.

Quoting Oscar Wilde “The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”
Any publicity is good publicity. As the dust settles, this farce will only promote Bill Henson, leaving the complainers with a bit of egg on their faces.

The lure of the Abject


Adelaide, Australia

  • Artist
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