OT The "pornographic" art of Bill Henson

Submitted: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:25
ThreadID: 58110 Views:4249 Replies:21 FollowUps:25
This Thread has been Archived
I'm a self confessed cultural cretin and couldn't care less for "art".

What we have here is a bloke with a camera who takes obscure photos of naked girls suggesting he is making a social statement for the betterment of teenaggers.

The art critics espouse the theory that he he is challenging the way we think about the transition from childhood to becoming an adult.

After hearing all this supposedly intelligent debate on ABC Radio I decided to have a look on the Net. The image I saw of a naked teenage girl was disturbing. When Jenny (the GLW) arrived at the factory I pulled it up and she was horrified.

Prompts me to ask; Why do our goverments continue to to throw money at "art" when medical issues like Diabetes and Cancer are grossly underfunded.


Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Gramps (NSW) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:31

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:31
Because our politicians like to be seen in the company of celebrities. You only have to look back at that waste of money in Canberra.

AnswerID: 306387

Follow Up By: Member - John G- Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:35

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:35
Bugger me Al Grampsby

I live in Canberra and I'm not a celebrity. Until your post I thought Canberra was a well kept sceret but looks like not. If you are referring to the politicians as a "waste of money" - well, you guys out there elect them! If you are referring to Canberra as a waste of money, then that should keep the Forum going around in circles for months - better to be on the road.


FollowupID: 572438

Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 16:27

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 16:27

LOL I meant that waste of time/money summit thingo run by of all people, Cate bloody Blanchett. I think the little maggot is in lust with Cate.

FollowupID: 572480

Reply By: Wetty - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:41

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:41
I have to agree with you Jim, if you or I had images like that on our personal computers and "the powers that be" found them I'd bet we'd be off to jail before you could blink. . . . I don't mind the arty types doing what they do, but that sure as chit ain't art, it is porn.
AnswerID: 306391

Follow Up By: Krakka - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 19:25

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 19:25
Look up PORN in the dictionary, this "art" is not porn.
FollowupID: 572521

Reply By: Splits - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:45

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:45
I suppose if nothing comes of this, every adult shop in Sydney will have new signs out the front with the words 'art gallery' written into them somewhere.

AnswerID: 306393

Reply By: Off-track - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:46

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:46
I saw a doco of his work last night on Aunty and it included some nudes of a teenage girl and a teenage boy. I didnt really find it disturbing myself, nor (thankfully) did I find it erotic but I can see why some would have these observations.

What I did ponder was that we are a weird society in that we can take and view photos of naked adults and young kids (as in the non-sexual context of course) but when it comes to naked teens it is a complete taboo subject.

Off the main topic but another example of the weird culture we live in is we can have TV shows showing people, of any age, reeling in a fish and then killing it on prime-time yet when was the last time you saw the same being done to a land animal??
AnswerID: 306394

Reply By: Member - Footloose - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 22:11

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 22:11
Hmmm..let's see. I'll bite.

This bloke has been doing this exhibition thing for yonks (and winning acclaim and prizes), the Melbourne cops didn't bag him, neither did the Newcastle cops....but suddenly he's "pornographic".
Exploitation of children in any form is pornographic, and I abhor it.
Kids lying drunk or out of their tree in the gutter are pornographic.
The obscene refusal of a certain govt to allow cyclone relief effets by the rest of the world is pornographic.
Teenage prostitution is pornographic.
War is the ultimate pornography.
But is this guy exploiting or sexualizing these kids ?
Far worse is the television. And the advertising agencies.
The magazines that 13yolds read...now they turn my stomach!
And the parents who push their kids to grow up far too quickly.The mothers who send their little children out dressed as 16yolds.
Push them to have boyfriends ..in kindergarten!
Hmm..lets see.
Which is doing the kids the most damage?

Personally I rekkon he's got far more publicity out of a few photos than he should. I've seen a bit of his stuff and I found it more confronting...yes disturbing but not in a sexual manner... than pornographic. Not my thing, but I do think that we need to take a long hard look at our society before we jump overboard.
If I don't like it I don't have to see it.
Unlike the ads and promos on children's prime time TV.

AnswerID: 306399

Follow Up By: Off-track - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 22:23

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 22:23
FollowupID: 572395

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:29

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:29

I agree totally and do not want to add but one other example. Funding a heart operation for a unrepentant convicted child killer ahead of other good citizens on the waiting list - is pornographic.

Kind regards
FollowupID: 572428

Reply By: _gmd_pps - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 23:02

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 23:02
only a dirty mind sees dirty pictures.
grow up. he did not force the kids
and it was not just girls. the kids are
old enough to say no if they are unconfortable.
with 12 or 13 we have drug addicts, murderers and more.
the law is always 40 years behind the reality.
prudish Australia interprets things in their own way.
but if you are so concerned why are you not concerned
that Australia is the ONLY english speaking country with
no bill on human rights ?? may be this should be a priority
have fun
AnswerID: 306406

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:53

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:53

Not so.

Young children do not consider the wider issues and need to be protected from themselves and unscrupulous "adults".

Parents usually provide this balancing act, but unfortunately some parents are not fit to be so.

I can see by your reply that you are yet to mature, regardless of your age.


I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

FollowupID: 572433

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:00

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:00
Spot on Sandie.

I have been withholding my urge to call him an unsavoury name in my usual "subtle as a sledgehammer" way.


FollowupID: 572443

Follow Up By: _gmd_pps - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 14:49

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 14:49
your attitude creates dumb kids and dumb adults.
plenty of them around ..
my kids knew what they wanted with 12 or 13
and they were very much capable of seeing
long term inplications because we tought them so.
maybe you just don't know what maturity is.
good luck

FollowupID: 572468

Reply By: Zapper - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 23:56

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 23:56
Yep it was sick, not right and not on. On a par with that starving dog supposed art that went around email recently. If you did either on the street you would get arrested, all done under guise of art. Art my a r s e, if you ask me the government shouldn't give anything to the arts just a way of supporting wasters and homos......
AnswerID: 306412

Reply By: Mainey (wa) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 01:03

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 01:03
In the big ART galleries here in Australia and also world wide there are naked girls (and boys and adults too) as statues and pictures drawn and painted in olden times and they are considered to be 'important works of ART' and worth squillions of $$$

I wonder 'who' has the right to nominate what is considered as "pornographic" while these pictures and statues are on show to the 'general public, including children.

Wonder why they are still on show and no problems are seen?

Mainey . . .
AnswerID: 306415

Reply By: Hairs (NSW) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 07:07

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 07:07
I must be a Redneck, cause I don't get what is called art and what is not.
My Misses reckons the only culture I have, is when I eat yoghurt some times.

Here's my two cents,
You ask why Governments keep throwing money at these kinda things and not at other more needy issuses. Well I've been lead to believe it's about culture.
With out culture the human race would cease to function as a growing developing group of individuals. It makes us who we are or something like that. Besides it gives the hob knobs something to rub shoulders over. Better to have them in the Art gallery than having to pull their AWD thingys out of a puddle.

It's all above my head.

AnswerID: 306419

Reply By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 07:13

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 07:13
Very subjective material Jim. I can see where some would be totally horrified by this material, others, for whatever reason would be in favour of it.

I personaly didnt see anything sexual but, also didnt see any artistic merit in this stuff.

AnswerID: 306421

Reply By: Ray - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 07:39

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 07:39
What rearly is "Art"? A few years ago our government paid a lot of money for a painting called "Blue Poles" It was a mess. I think a lot of so call art is a con like in the tale of "The King's New Clothes"
AnswerID: 306424

Follow Up By: robak (QLD) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:34

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:34

IOff the top of my head, i think the blue poles were bought for something like $2million which was a record at the time. They were recently sold for something like $40million. You may call it a waste of money. I'd call it a pretty bloody good investment.


FollowupID: 572448

Reply By: Stephen M (NSW) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:11

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 08:11
Agree with a few comments above BUT in general, if I had a 13 year old son or daughter there would be no hope in hell they would be standing there like that. I find art an unusual thing, most of the time it looks like a 2 year old has been let loose with a brush but thats just my opinion,some other pictures are fantastic and really can show a story but sorry in my opinion any child standing there starkers especially full frontals and 13 years of age is to me wrong and should be made ilegal. Just think, how would any one who gets on here feel if it was there daughter or son standing there naked with a picture of YOUR CHILD plastered on your computor monitor ?? Not for me thanks. Are they porn pics ?? to artists maybe not, to me it is not appropriate. Regards Steve M
AnswerID: 306429

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:01

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:01

Good question.

Very subjective too.

Footloose raises a good point about the context in society.

I don't really have an answer.

If it was my son or daughter, most probably not.

Does it make a difference being a photo and not a painting?

As a society, we expect standards, however 'high' or 'low', and drawing the bar is not easy at an individual level, or for a specific case.

Yet 'art' has always questioned the boundaries of society, by reflecting back into society the very standards the artist finds. Thinking of Footloose's comments for example. But those standard can be both negative and positive.

At least you did some research and did look at the photos. I havn't.

However, I think you may have done the best thing, and actually raised it for discussion. The discussion and questioning in itself is a positive step forward.
AnswerID: 306434

Reply By: The Landy - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:42

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:42
Take your camera to your kids swimming school carnival and you’ll have half a dozen do-gooders running around saying you can’t take photos of the kids.

An artist takes his camera out and photographs kids and just as many do-gooders running around telling us it is okay…….go figure!

What were the parents thinking?
AnswerID: 306444

Reply By: DIO - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:30

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 10:30
Images such as those reported on are exactly the type that paedophiles seek and collect.

What is a paedophile ....? What is..

Who are paedophiles....? Can be anyone in the community Who...

What does a paedophile look like....? No different to anyone else you might come across in your day to day activities. For example - Teacher, Priest, Judge, Scout Master, Child Care Worker, Lawyer, Shop Assistant, Motor Mechanic, 4x4 Owner etc etc

Do you know any paedophiles...? Most likely but haven't recognised them as such because they are exceptionally good at maintaining their 'secret life'.

Believe me, paedophilia is one very nasty and undesirable activity that all communities must strive to detect and prevent from occurring. Children must be protected at all costs even it if means that so called 'art' is removed from public display.

Most people seeking to have the so called 'art' recognised and publicly displayed have no concept what-so-ever of paedophilia and the long term effect such vile activity can have on the victims and the harm caused in communities. Just take a look at what's occurring in some aboriginal communities thorughout many parts of northern Australia. It would be fair to say that any shopping centre that you attend is most likely also a haunt for paedophiles seeking to locate and identify targets for future abuse. Same goes for children's sporting activities, little nippers surf life saving, Scouting, Primary Schools, playgrounds, Youth Clubs, Libraries etc. The types of locations are endless and can be anywhere.
Paedophiles are extremely resourceful and very practised in the art of deception and cunning.

Any images depicting naked, clothed or partly clothed children (particularly those nearing the age of puberty - but not limited to) are seen as stimulating and potential targets to these creeps. In fact recently authorities also seriously considered banning TV advertisements for babies nappys because images of a naked or partly naked infant might be seen as being 'attractive' and stimulating to paedophiles.

If you are a parent, an uncle, a brother or sister, grand parent or even just a friend or next door neighbour to children be ever vigilant as 'your' children may be targeted by a paedophile and they or even you might not have evn the slightest suspicion as such.

On the night the Police removed / closed the exhibition in question, TV reporters spoke to people obviously intent on attending the said centre. their remarks and responses shocked me as to their gross naivety relating to the risks associated with displaying such material. Comments such as 'there's nothing wrong with publicly displaying images of nude children' or 'Police should be out catching the real criminals' or 'It's disgusting to think that Police and State would interfere with an artistic display' etc. What a load of 'airy fairy rubbish' as they say. Trouble with many in society these days is that they are too quick to dismantle the very means of protection afforded the youth and children in our community. Just remember, even in Burma amidst the death, destruction and torment of the survivors there are reports of paedophiles moving amongst the orphaned children seeking out the weak and defenceless and most likely abducting them and subjecting them to horrific abuse and acts of depravity. Think about it as you 'mourne' the loss of a few pictures that are probably bordering on pornographic but presented as 'art'. What a joke. Bet you anything you like that any of the images displayed on TV are already in the collections of paedophiles around the world.
AnswerID: 306456

Follow Up By: Batman69 - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 11:04

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 11:04

You are spot on.

I am afraid that this so called art will only subversively promote and "legitimise" peadophilia. For example you can imagine a deviate saying to him or herself, hey it must be OK to do this to kids because it's OK for Henson to display photos of nude kids in an art gallery. I reckon the line up for this type of art show would be 10 deep with rock spiders...

I am sure as you said these sickos will be all over these images.

If this is art then I am afraid I don't see it at all.

There are beaches all over Australia where you can't take photos of your kids playing, just in case you might be a deviate. But Mr Henson can display his "work" for all to see? What is going on?

My two bobs worth anyway.

FollowupID: 572451

Reply By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:11

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:11
Hows it going Guys,

Everyone seems in a hurry to label these photos as pornographic ,
however if you look at the actual definition of the word it is unlikey they fall into that category.

Pornography , is the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. ( Wikipedia )

Sure these photos are confronting , and even shocking when viewed out of context ,
But I am still not sure they should be banned.

Probably says more about our society as a whole when we jump straight to the peadophile thing,
I mean these people have a mental problem ,and are going to exist with or without artistic photos .

My 2 cents worth as well.

AnswerID: 306470

Follow Up By: Dasher Des - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 13:30

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 13:30
Glenn, first point I want to make is that i did not see or hear the articles that have created this post so I make no comment on its content.
Second point. If we see images of naked children however posed for long enough, society values will change and in time those images may then become an acceptable part of our society.
I think it is up to us to make an early judgement on this issue and then if we decide that the images are unacceptable, we as a society should criticize art for art's sake and prevent these images from becoming acceptable within our communities.
FollowupID: 572463

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 09:53

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 09:53
Hi Des,

If you Google Bill Henson there is more to read than you can get through, also on Youtube there is an interview with him as well.

A couple of years ago I spent a while in Europe and when to heaps of gallerys . There are heaps of painting by the old masters of naked youths etc, I find it a bit hypoctitical that Mr Henson can photograph almost the same content and be hauled over the coals for it.

Maybe we could ban naked photos of people 50+ while we are at it, I find those fairly shocking.

FollowupID: 572626

Reply By: flashcher - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:19

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:19
My thought was; will this 13 year old still be happy about the pictures in 20 years time. I don't think a child that age fully understands the long term implications.
I think they would have been more tasteful if she had a nice piece of fabric draped across her private parts.
AnswerID: 306473

Reply By: Wombat - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:27

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 12:27
"I'm a self confessed cultural cretin and couldn't care less for "art".

Yet you feel the need to vociferate your opinions in a forum.
AnswerID: 306476

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 14:49

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 14:49
If you were able to understand my post, you would realise I have a concern for the welfare children and hold this type of "art" in complete and utter contempt.

Everyone else seemed to get it.

FollowupID: 572469

Follow Up By: Wombat - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 15:01

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 15:01
Oh, I got it Jim. You saw an opportunity to, once again, stir a hornet's nest by offering an opinion on a topic which you hoped would polarise the forum. The fact that the subject matter is of very little interest to you, was inconsequential.

Lock up The Louvre, burn the books and get rid of that horrible Rock 'n' Roll music - Jim Best has spoken.
FollowupID: 572470

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 15:25

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 15:25

FollowupID: 572475

Reply By: TerraFirma - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 13:40

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 13:40
Talk about off topic..! I thought this was a 4WD forum.? Whilst I respect the topic for what it's worth I would prefer not to read about it here.
AnswerID: 306497

Follow Up By: Krakka - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 19:30

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 19:30
Yep, this is the best reply on this subject.
FollowupID: 572525

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 21:51

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 21:51

The owners of this fine forum do actually allow OT topics.

It is their call. They can delete if thay choose,

You can go for a walk in the bush if that is your choice.

It is not difficult.....get this......it's not too mentally taxing.....


I hope you have been helped.


FollowupID: 572567

Follow Up By: Krakka - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 10:24

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 10:24
YOU have helped me Jim, YOU ARE THE FU>>>>G TOSSER that I didn't think you were. So YOU have convinced me otherwise.

I hope you are SEEKING some help TROLL {oops sorry jim}
FollowupID: 572633

Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 11:02

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 11:02
Hey Jim, I'll say it before and I'll say again, piss it off elsewhere, these are not the appropriate forums. Next time , I'll be more direct..
FollowupID: 572639

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 12:59

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 12:59

At the bottom of the page there is a button "Alert Moderator".

You are free to use it and allow the moderators to decide what stays and what goes.

My fondest regards,


FollowupID: 572650

Follow Up By: TerraFirma - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 13:09

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 13:09
No need for the alert moderator Jim, but seriously there are far better things to talk about within these forums. These forums are about helping fellow 4WD & Camping and IMHO this topic isn't. Sure we all go off and chat about various things but I think we need to draw the line somewhere otherwise we should change the name of the Forums or categorise them accordingly.
FollowupID: 572651

Reply By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 16:28

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 16:28
Just something that came to mind this arvo.

Many years ago I recall a photo of a young Vietnamese girl running naked from a napalm attack on her village.
This image was published around the world as an example of the horrors of war.

Could this image be labeled pornographic, news or art ?

AnswerID: 306541

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 16:58

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 16:58
FollowupID: 572487

Follow Up By: Member - Lionel A (WA) - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 18:32

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 18:32
Thanks Mike, thats the one.

36 years on and it still shocks me to the core.

FollowupID: 572499

Reply By: Russ n Sue - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 14:48

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 14:48
I'll leave the question of whether the photographs in question were pornographic, were the product of a paedophile or were art to our lawmakers.

The thing that disturbs me more was when the news broke on ABC TV a certain Hetty Johnson, an anti paedophilia campaigner, was given plenty of air-time to have her say on the matter. The implication of what she said was that Mr Henson is guilty, should be afforded a trial but still be found guilty, and should be made an example of.

The woman was almost rabid in her pursuance of Mr Henson and clearly has a mind like a steel trap. I came away thinking that she would convict anyone on mere suspicion if she were a juror in a paedophilia case. A very dangerous woman indeed and given more credence by the media than she deserves.

This issue is already attracting enough irrational comment without seeking the opinion of someone who has clearly got an agenda.

I think it best that the Law is left to run its course for this issue.
AnswerID: 306751

Follow Up By: The Landy - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 15:16

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 15:16
Equally as disturbing was the call from the artistic world that artists should be free to explore (exploit?) art in all forms including young children, but than called on Prime Minster Rudd to retract the comments he made with respect to this particular photographic display.

It seems the art world wants the freedom to express, but looks to deny the freedom of others to express their thoughts. Can’t have it both ways……
FollowupID: 572659

Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Friday, May 30, 2008 at 15:19

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 15:19
I personally see little or no point in charging Bill Henson with anything, but that is a matter for the authorities. I don't believe he had any evil intent, just that the arty types are a "little bit out there". They tend to mix in their own airy fairy circles and do not really understand the community at large, its beliefs and standards.

It would seem he is doing what he has been doing for years in the name of art. If society and the authorities deem this no longer acceptable, he will be instructed to cease the practice.

This, to me, would be an appropriate outcome. Others will no doubt disagree.


FollowupID: 572660

Sponsored Links