08
Jul
08

On air: Taking pictures of naked children, art or abuse?

A demure photograph of a naked female sitting on a rock with white cliffs in the background. Not that controversial you may think, what if I then say the naked female is six years old? The picture has been put on the cover of Australia’s leading arts journal Art Monthly. Kevin Rudd, the Aussie PM, says it’s “disgusting”, others say naked images of children are sexual and should therefore be banned. But should it?

This is one post responding to the image on the website of UK newspaper the Independent:

Only a paedophile could find a picture of a six year old arousing. So, what does that tell you about the people who say the pictures are pornographic or in any way sexual?

The photograph is a recreation of a Lewis Caroll image. Liberals argue that it all hinges on context and intent – if an artist has no intention of titillating, a work is not pornographic. And there is a difference between posting nude pictures of children online and displaying them in a gallery. “

Olympia Nelson, the girl in the photo, who is now 11 has said “I was really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd said about this picture. It is one of my favourites – if not my favourite – photo my mum has ever taken of me.”

It’s not the first time this issue has been raised. Police in Australia seized a number of artist Bill Henson’s photographs featuring near-naked or naked children in recent months, but were returned to a Sydney art gallery without charges being laid.

There have been other recent cases, that of Betsy Schneider and Tierney Gearon

On today’s programme we are going to be joined by Olympia Nelson’s father Robert. If you have any questions for him or would like to come on air and speak to him, get in touch.


153 Responses to “On air: Taking pictures of naked children, art or abuse?”


  1. 1 1430a
    July 8, 2008 at 14:14

    i think the word used by the Aussie Prime Minister is perfect to describe this incident:”disgusting”.how can u think a naked picture be an Art???please enlighten me?ok in an art gallery it is ok because you go ther with your own interest but not on the cover of a newspaper!
    i think its time for the human rights activists to take some action against this sort of incident.
    This is the biggest abuse for a kid to be shown naked on the front cover of a newspaper.
    Abhinav Khanal
    NEpal

  2. 2 steve
    July 8, 2008 at 14:21

    “Only a paedophile could find a picture of a six year old arousing. So, what does that tell you about the people who say the pictures are pornographic or in any way sexual?”

    I guess that’s a good point, but I still wouldn’t want to see a pic of naked kids anyways. I think there are enough sick people out there that they probably shouldn’t be having exhibits showing naked kids. If there’s even a slight risk, they shouldn’t do this, because there are lots of monsters out there.

  3. 3 John in Germany
    July 8, 2008 at 14:34

    A very controversial subject, if we praise we become paedophiles, if we disagree we are un- cultured to wards art.

    What a state, a father cannot bath his baby girl in case some busy body sees and reports him. Parent have to be careful how they handle their children at play in case they are seen to touch a intime part of the the child’s body , even by accident, could be taken as abuse.

    Most of us look at such scenes with parental proudness. We have or are bringing up our children, and have loving memories of playing with our children (wow what a statement, enough to be put away). Of rubbing tummy pains away, and so on.

    Sad World. Sad people, Child abuse is deplorable, but not every person enjoying growing up with children is perverse. i suppose the picture of me peeing in the dogs water bowl (i was six) would put the photographer in jail today. It was my Granddad.

    John in Germany

  4. 4 Lubna
    July 8, 2008 at 14:42

    Oh my goodness !!! What on earth has happened to the innocence of children ?! Can’t their little innocent bodies just remain pure and unpolluted by the sickness and madness of adults ?! This pic in my opinion is vomiting-inducing ! With my love.. Yours forever, Lubna..

  5. 5 Mohammed Ali
    July 8, 2008 at 14:45

    Taking pictures of naked children used to be something our parents enjoyed doing. But i think this act must be stopped because the children’s privacy offer to be respected. Secondly, there are increase in the number of pedophiles who could use the pictures of naked children on pornographic websites.

  6. July 8, 2008 at 14:55

    i think the act is shameful even before the eyes of the lord!

    sincerely speaking the writer was out to make money out of his publications but indeed its a shame!

    what if the girl next in future finds the picture of hers kept and stored in archieves? how would she feel, being marketed for somebody to make money.

    thats child abuse and should be shunned, in the African context this is purely an act that even the writer wont look at it.

    assume the picture belonged to her daughter being marketed to give the art an aesthetic appeal? definately feel terrible.

    completely shun this and further stop. its child abuse.

  7. 7 eric
    July 8, 2008 at 15:10

    throughout the ages artists have glorified the human body, it can be demure or pornograghic. the intent of the artist has to considered. do the pictures show genitals? is the context innocence? do the pictures incite the spiritually weak to commit horrible deeds? is the nakedness integral to the work of art? i would guess that in most cases it is not, but when i have seen naked children playing on a beach, it seems natural and innocent. how has society infected the minds of the weak so that this naturalness excites them? as a CHRISTIAN, i can tell you that if all were with CHRIST, this discussion would be irrelevant. satan is working in the world today and we as a society have to be alert to it. the devil does not have horns and a pitchfork, he is inciting the desruction of GOD’S kingdom through secularism. the natural order has been turned on its head. the life a child has become an inconvenience for many. in the usa over 35 million have been aborted, since 1972! what does that say about the value of the life of a child? is it any wonder that people do horrible things to children. society says they are disposible! if you are a parent, protect your children. if you are a decent person, protect other’s children. if you are confronted with evil, stand up to it.

    “Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” Psalm 127:3

  8. 8 Shaun from Halifax
    July 8, 2008 at 15:14

    There are sick people out there who need to get help, that I cannot deny. They have somehow sexualized the idea childhood innocence, and that to me is wrong.

    But a lot of the reaction thus far is of the knee-jerk and adult hysteria type. None of the messages so far have addressed an important aspect: the rights of the subject. According to the article itself, Ms. Nelson seems to be okay with having her photo on the cover of the magazine. “I was really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd said about this picture. It is one of my favourites – if not my favourite – photo my mum has ever taken of me.” Ms. Nelson was not exploited, she was not forced to do it. She seems to be alright with having her photo on the art magazine, so why can’t others?

    That being said, there is a definite line between art and pornography, and it happens to be drawn along the gender of the photographer. Case in point: Ann Geddes takes pictures of infants in arty and fantasy costumes and settings, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. I wonder, however, what kind of treatment she would receive if she were ANDREW Geddes? I suspect he’d have been thrown in a windowless cell (or worse) a long time ago.

  9. July 8, 2008 at 15:16

    Hi WHYSers!

    Great to be back and to see all this refreshing discourse on the blog! LOL!

    My two cents?

    …The objectification of people in any way,shape or form is immoral. The overall political (im)balance of subject and object positions, that is, in terms of children who are sometimes not able to think through all the ramifications of this type of representation or lack the wherewithal to contribute purposefully to the discussion which often follow, are at a real disadvantage. Greater care taken insofar as the progressive-liberal view of art, especially in terms of its consumption as both discourse and politics.

  10. July 8, 2008 at 15:17

    My religion Islam Prohibits any type of nudity especially that of Females! wether they are six years,eighteen years old,or even sixty years old,they are all expected to cover every part of their body except may be the face and the hands!
    Using teenage girls photo’s on the web is really child abuse and this kind of thing’s should not be tolerated anymore!

  11. 11 Julie P
    July 8, 2008 at 15:21

    This is a family photograph, which in my opinion makes it private, not meant for public display. By taking the photograph from a private setting to a public setting the “intent” of the photographic is no longer the issue, but the very public debate of the sexualization of children. The venue in which this photograph is irrelevant as there are “ill” people in all walks of life that not only surf the internet looking for child porn, all places are fair game, including art galleries.

  12. 12 Venessa
    July 8, 2008 at 15:22

    I think this is a matter of perspective. I don’t find the picture offensive or derogatory but I do find any exploitation of children is despicable. You could say a naked picture of an infant is pornographic. The reality is there are sick people out there that will find something sexually arousing no matter how innocent the photo may be.

    This is a highly controversial subject but I think there is something to be said that the actual child photographed is pleased with the picture.

  13. 13 Andre
    July 8, 2008 at 15:24

    I do not believe that a tastefully done picture of a nude six year old child is necessarily child pornography or distasteful. However, I do believe that there are three standards that need to be met in such photographs to ensure that they do not constitute child pornography:

    1) The focus of the picture should not be the child’s genetalia
    2) There must be no sexual activity in the picture.
    3) There should be no adults (other than parents), in the picture.

    If these criteria are met then I would qualify the picture as “art” – even though I personally would not be interested in it.

  14. July 8, 2008 at 15:27

    Indeed, pornography is not the only consideration here. How art exploits the bodies and related resources of some of society’s lesser abled members are also important considerations. And, by lesser abled I am referrring to the wherewithal to make meaingful choices in the best interests of all. That, of course, sounds largely idealistic. However, it is to be remembered that some artists are not given to the considerations that their subjects may, indeed, be disadvantaged by their artistic representations, whether in terms of economic and or sexual exploitation.

    Here, I think of a recent art show I went to in Kingston, where there were numerous photos of obviously very poor kids, the vast majority of who were black and were featured in what might even be considered as “artistic” settings by largely privileged and, mostly, white artists. The representations of poverty, youth and, sadly, in this instance, ‘blackness’ as necessarilly artistic, often blithely overlooked the much more substantive issues of suffering, pain and privation of its subjects in direct relation to the kind of society in which these things can and do happen.

    I found myself appalled at what I considered the exploitatiive objectification of this type of lack of privilege by, obviously, more privileged members of the society, as well as by the audiences’ consumption of the work as mostly, if not only “artistic”. No connection was made, in other words, with the pain and suffering of the subjects of the photographs and how the photographic lens can distort these realities.

    Something has to be wrong with this kind of approach where it seems okay to treat human innocence, pain and suffering, etc. as though they were objective information to be consumed by apolitical audiences in a museum exhibit.

  15. 15 Dan
    July 8, 2008 at 15:33

    I have to agree with Lubna.
    The most precious possession of a child is their innocence. We are damaging our society, ourselves and our children by exploiting them in this fashion. Certainly these type pictures may not arouse prurient interests in normal people but sexualizes children and takes from them something that can never be recovered….their innocence.

  16. 16 Omunyaruguru
    July 8, 2008 at 15:41

    Ethically speaking a six year old is not able to give sufficiently informed consent for such a pic. Whoever indulges in taking sucj pics is outrightly exploitative and unethical. The world should work together to stop this.

  17. 17 Claire
    July 8, 2008 at 15:47

    Dear WHYS,

    Interesting and serious topic.

    I have a question for those who call non-sexual photos of naked children pornographic: Would you extend the definition of child pornography to paintings and sculpture? My mother is an artist and did an oil painting of me at age 8, naked with a blue square dance skirt. It has hung in a public gallery. Hardly pornographic. And what about all those naked baby and toddler photos that your parents surely have, at least in developed western countries? Children are beautiful, not sexual, and we all need to be more comfortable with our own bodies. Children often run around with no clothes, and while we ought to protect them from sick, sick predators, it is nearly as sick to insist that a demure (key word: demure) photograph, intended as art and taken by the mother, an artist, is disgusting or sexual.

    Claire, American in Germany

  18. July 8, 2008 at 15:54

    @ Shaun in Halifax:

    I think the issue is a little wider than the gender of the artist in terms of your example of Ann Geddes and whether the same response would have been given were she Andrew Geddes. Of course, we have no real way of knowing whether Ms Geddes would be treated differently in the specific context if she were Mr. Geddes. However, what is known is that the question of gender, though, important is not the sole consideration. There are real issues surrounding access and the extent to which the artistic subject is further relegated to a place of imbalance and powerlessness in relation to the lens through which the artist communicates this experience for the world as a product to be consumed.

    Consequently, the issue here, I believe, is whether or not children are able to give real consent in terms of this issue. Such a decision has to be made alongside considerations of responsibility and especially as it relates to the parents of these art subjects. It is not enough for children to feel that something is okay. Was there enough careful judgement exercised in terms of artist’s own responsibility to all the parties considered, including the so-called “sickos” in society?

    Indeed, you make the point about “innocence” and the strange way in which that is sexualised by these same sickos in society. However, it is to be remembered that the very idea of innocence, such as it is, is also a sexual one, insofar as it is counterpointed as the opposite of a sort of sexualised guilt (?) of adulthood. Its binary opposite is obvious in terms of the, presumably, “refreshing innoncence” of children in this context.

    By which I mean, the apparent “artsiness” of the photo in question, certainly in terms of how it is described, has as much to do with the age and gender of the child as much as the presumed text of inexperience and purity read onto her body. This latter point is made that much larger and, I would daresay, much more of a spectacle by the lens of the camera. In that regard, the context for these types of images is almost always sexual, if even in a very general kind of way.

    The artist, therefore, has to exercise greater care in terms of how he or she engages with the subject (matter); as well as the agency of the subject has to also be considered. Is it sufficient that a child thinks it is okay that their images, ideas and representations are treated in this way? That, I think, is a legitimate question which must be answered in this discussion.

  19. 19 Katharina in Ghent
    July 8, 2008 at 15:58

    The problem is not only whether this is “pornographic” or not, probably this picture was innocent enough. The problem lies also in the fact that you attract attention to your child, which might be less positive than you would think. Stalkers are everywhere, and would you really want some sick pedophile come after your child after he saw the picture in a magazine or gallery? It’s one thing to make such pictures for your family-photoalbum, but it’s an entirely different game once you go public.

  20. July 8, 2008 at 16:00

    @ Katharina:

    Totally agreed! When was it okay for us to say that because the child gave consent that was somehow sufficient? I am shocked by any defense structured along these lines…So, again, totally agreed!

  21. 21 jamily5
    July 8, 2008 at 16:01

    Such a private thing has been exploited. artists may say that they are displaying that child’s innocents, but by displaying it to the world, is exploitation.
    I have a friend who swears that it is art and retorts that she is not ashamed of her body and do not want her children to be, either. she would be honored to display one of her children in this fashion.
    But, there is a difference between being ashamed of your body and flaunting all the most vulnerable and private parts to the world.
    Yes, the body is a beautiful thing – that does not mean that nudity is art.
    I, as a parent, would never exploit my child in that way.
    Afterall, even though I might not be embarrassed by their bear body, remember that child must live in society.

  22. July 8, 2008 at 16:02

    Oh, please, people. It’s just a picture of a little girl! She’s not doing anything sexual. She looks like dozens of other little girls I saw on the beaches of France. (Contrary to popular belief, the adults do not in general bathe topless or nude there; but their children do what they will until they’re about 6 or 7 years old.) She’s just sitting there.

    The Aussie authorities who say it’s “disgusting” have totally lost their minds, and so has anyone who is whipping out Jesus or anything else to condemn this innocent photo. People used to take photos like this all the time. Even my folks took photos of me that they called “bear rug” pics, which they threatened to show all potential fiancées to my utter embarrassment. But now that the news journalists have been bombarding us with information about pedophilia ring busts, we’re more aware of the sickos in our midst. (Mohammed, there aren’t “more pedophiles.” They’ve been here all the time.)

    Can we please take back art from the sickos and the paranoid wackaloons? As a professional artist, I can’t express myself when I have to anticipate every damned wince and whine from the public, especially knowing it’s going to be as overblown and ridiculous as this is.

  23. 23 Anthony
    July 8, 2008 at 16:09

    If you can’t have naked 6 year olds in porno mags, then you shouldn’t be able to put naked 6 year olds in mags for art. Can you take a picture of yourself chopping up an endangered species for art? No, because it’s illegal. How about torturing animals and video taping it for art? How about murdering people and splattering their body parts and blood in shapes on a Starbucks because you’re an artist?

    They are all illegal, and their should be no exceptions for “art”, because then who decides where the line is?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  24. July 8, 2008 at 16:11

    Children need protection from all sorts of exploitation, including being photographed naked for the purpose of arousing excitement.

    For people obsessed with sex, any naked beautiful body of whatever age has sexual suggestion and not considered as a piece of art.

    In some societies, especially the African ones, it is all normal for very young (male) children to be seen naked in their neighbourhood, due either to poverty or culture. But in other cultures, a child of whatever age shouldn’t be seen naked as it is considered indecent or an invitation to paedophiles.

    For a paedophile, the picture of a naked child has only sexual meaning. It has nothing to do with art. Not all parents want their children to be seen naked in public galleries and on websites. They see this as total obscenity.

    Child privacy should be protected by the adults. There are other ways of artistically depicting the beauty of childhood without stripping children naked for exhibition in public places frequented by the well and the not-so-well intentioned visitors.

  25. 25 Angela in Washington D.C.
    July 8, 2008 at 16:17

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with a picture of a kid. Some parents like to take those kinds of pictures. I know that I would not take a picture of my child like that, nor would I want to display the picture. If the parents have no problem with the picture, I guess it is okay. The only naked pictures that I consider to be art are the baby pictures, which are cute.

    I do have the pictures when I was a toddler of the rear but my parents would never want those pictures in a gallery.

  26. 26 John in Salem
    July 8, 2008 at 16:20

    If you find this picture erotic you’ll have to count Michelangelo and DaVinci among the worst pornographers in history.
    All those naked cherubs – what were they thinking?

  27. 27 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 8, 2008 at 16:41

    How unutterably sad. The only obscenity to be found here is in the minds of people who can look at an innocent picture of an innocent six year old child, and from some dark and dreadful place in their souls, conjure the notion that it’s somehow sexual.

    These scary people then anoint themselves as the protectors of public morals? Creepy stuff. They’d have us all in bhurkas to satisfy their own sick minds. The “dirt” dwells within them, not in a sweet girl who is quite rightly offended by their criticism.

    I hope you will get some comment from people in the Scandinavian countries, as yet unstained by this pervasive psychosis about nudity, children, and child nudity.

  28. July 8, 2008 at 16:41

    @ Maria Alexander; John in Salem and Angella in Washington DC:

    For what it is worth, I am not sure the only issue is pornography. I think that that is perhaps the most obvious consideration in terms of nakedness and how that is read in our curent realities.

    I think enough has not been said about how these types of “artistic projects” can, in fact, exploit the vulnerable. The reality being that not everyone has the same capacity to reflect agency which calls into question whether the artist has a responsibility in this regard?

    I would feign imagine that a child, necessarilly, has that capacity, given the variables at work in here. To the extent that this is so, something said in terms of how the spectacle of the camera lens, in this regard, can also aid in undermining that process.

    Surely, there is room for artistic freedom. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Indeed, if sex was the only concern then simply cover up the child’s nakedness and the matter is resolved. However, I am not sure if that, by itself, removes some of the other concerns of exploitation and diminished capacity.

    Consent, after all, is a very powerful thing in terms of this discussion. Exploiting the images of people, including also their thoughts and ideas are also related considerations. Whether we choose to invoke religion, or Jesus, specifically, is neither here nor there. The issue is really a question of responsibility and agency which has to be tempered in a context of who consumes the product. That is all.

    Was this the most responsible thing for a parent to do? I am not sure, however, I do know that it certainly calls into question the extent to which art can and does exploit peoples’ “innocence” under the current circumstances.

  29. July 8, 2008 at 16:48

    In an era when paedophiles are on the loose and running amok, one is bound to treat such nude photos with a tinge of concern. But what doesn’t raise controversy these days?

  30. 30 Anthony
    July 8, 2008 at 17:07

    People say nothing is wrong with the pics, but in the states, if the police found the pic at someone’s house, but it was a Polaroid, they would have some serious explaining to do. If you had a past violation, then you could go to jail.

    How many people would think it’s appropriate if I said “damn that 6 year old looks hot, I’m getting’ excited!!!”.

    @ Israel

    Oranges don’t really cause controversy :)

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  31. 31 primal convoy in Japan
    July 8, 2008 at 17:19

    Hi folks. I just wanted to add my own experience of this sort of thing whilst living here in Japan. Im going to post some links to some subject matter that is ok in Japan, but might be considered “pornographic” outside Japan. My apologies in advance but I feel disgusted by these things too. I would like to ask the mods/admin or staff to have a look at any or all of the links and edit them where appropriate. Dont worry though as I will not post anything “naked” or “graphic”, but Im sure anyone out there like me, will still find them a little disturbing. As an added precaution, I have made the links “broken”, so you will need to copy and paste the two parts to each link in your browser to access them.

    OK, here we go.

    In Japan, there is a lot of material, behavior and media that would be considered “pornographic” in other countries but isnt considered over here to be the same. This is espcially true with reference to the portrayal of children, or child-like women in manga, anime and other Japanese media.

    Here are some examples of what I mean:

    1/ “Ero-Kawa Girls” (“ero” is short for “erotic” and “kawa” means “kawaii” or “cute”):

    This term is usually used for grown women in Japan but was also used for a beauty dance pageant in Japan on TV:

    I cant find the url of that but the vids were at youtube and featured girls as young as 8 or ten in bikinis dancing to R and B songs with sexual words or lines in them.

    Here is a link to a user at youtube who shows “u-15″ vids. U-15 means “under 15″ and is the buzzword for a special type of video or magazibe featuring girls under 15 years old (the youngest being about 10, I think in one magazine”. These vids and mags are sold in some adult areas of mainstream Japanese bookshops and also in porn shops in places like Akihabara in Tokyo (where 7 people were killed by a maniac with a knife only recently):

    ***

    To quote:

    “The industry has tended to exercise self-restraint when it comes to extreme content, and I’m not sure whether that’s the correct approach. We can only guess where the line can and cannot be crossed. ”

    Kosuke Ochiai of Layfull Co, on the Under-15 market, which consists of dozens of girls in their pre- and early teens who are seen in photos and videos dressed in lingerie and G-string bikinis, often in semi-erotic situations. (Cyzo)

    More info on underage models in Japan:

    [***japanprobe.com***]

    Here is some info about Japanese child abuse:

    [- http://www.crnjapan.com***%5D

    Im not saying that Japan is amok with child pornoraphy, but I think it is a lot more “mainstream” than most countries and perhaps even tolerated or even promoted by some mainstream media…after all, “arent they just so kawaii?”

  32. 32 primal convoy in Japan
    July 8, 2008 at 17:20

    Ooops..i forgot to “break the links”.. Its late here in japan and i need to get to bed. please could someone “break” the links if they are deemed inappropriate. thanks.

    [@Primal: I looked at one link and it seemed vaguely dodgy to me - not surprisingly given the subject - so I've left an indication of the sites you linked to for anybody who wants to look at them, but have edited out the direct links - Victor].

  33. 33 victork13
    July 8, 2008 at 17:20

    A lot of the response to this seems just a little bit hysterical and unintentionally hinting at something really unpleasant.

    To a normal person an image of a naked child is not sexually charged in anyway. That so many people immediately respond with outrage and disgust to this story is something I can only wonder at.

    It’s certainly possible to eroticise such an image, but that’s when it becomes pornography. And that’s illegal. Otherwise the pornographic content, I’m sorry to say, is very much in the mind of the beholder. Islam’s blanket ban on nudity, which has been mentioned, makes assumptions that do not reflect very well on Muslims. It has also led to Islam being unusually sterile in the visual and plastic arts compared to other civilisations, which has been a great loss to culture.

    That paedophiles may be aroused by such an image, however otherwise innocent, isn’t really the point. No society should define itself according to what is uncharacteristic, unrepresentative, and deviant – such as the likely reactions of paedophiles (who are attracted to children whether they are fully dressed or naked – a point that really shouldn’t be news to anybody). You might just as well argue that no image of anybody under the age of sexual consent should be published for fear of paedophiles, or that no images of adult women should be reproduced, for fear of rapists. Or – as with Islam – no images of any living thing at all, to be absolutely safe. Which is fine so long as you’re prepared to live in a state of unfreedom under the permanent supervision of moral police and a dictating state. Sorry, Saudi Arabia isn’t my societal ideal.

    I also sympathise with a point raised about abortion. If the child in question had instead been physically destroyed in an abortion, say a ‘partial birth abortion’, many of those who are upset about an image wouldn’t have had the slightest concern. That suggests a very confused set of values.

    Whether taking a picture of a naked child is art or abuse, or both, depends on who’s taking the picture and the nature of the image. There is something thoughtlessly totalitarian, and just a little bit twisted, in the view that photographing a child must necessarily be pornographic. Only to the dirty-minded.

  34. 34 Ogola Benard
    July 8, 2008 at 17:26

    Alot of people don”t yet understand the meaning,right and psychological effect a photo of a naked child would have on it.
    Whether an Artist, what science is their to butter your own child, be it a neighbours child who only made a mistake and awaiting to be corrected?
    Your naked child on are front page of a magazine? why not your wife? In anycase she is ever naked in your bedroom!
    Children rights!!!

  35. 35 Will Rhodes
    July 8, 2008 at 17:37

    My wife and I have just discussed this – take into account that she is a photographer.

    Her view is: “That it is in no way pornography unless that is the intent the photographer held. But it is inappropriate as a result of today’s society, which is unfortunate as it is a beautiful photograph.”

    My view is to take a look at the classics and how we live in a society that is full of fear. Would you call e.g. Rembrandt, Da Vinci pornographers?

    I say fear because under the cloud of political correctness nothing is correct and because of that you are not allowed to express your opinion of anything if it should offend someone, anyone. Expression is not just saying something.

    Art is art – the only thing I see about this magazine cover is it got the exact response that it wanted – to get the world looking or buying the magazine, were its sales down?

  36. 36 victork13
    July 8, 2008 at 17:41

    @Will: yes, they do seem to have very skilfully taken a leaf out of “The Benetton Guide To Publicising Your Wares”. Their advertising dept. must be punching the air and doing high fives.

  37. 37 Shaun from Halifax
    July 8, 2008 at 17:48

    @ Agostinho

    I don’t particularily disagree with any point you’ve made. They are all relevant and show a careful, thoughtful response (kudos to you for that, although it was so dense at times I thought I was reading a treatise by Kant!).

    I suppose my main point in the Mr/Ms Geddes example was to illustrate that the issue is significantly more nuanced than “showing children naked is pornography and wrongwrongwrong!!!!” on the one hand and “an artist has a right to show the world however she/he interprets it” on the other (for those playing the home game, that’s the closest I can come to the opposite of the former statement without saying something I don’t intend).

    The listeners have all pointed out a few main things: 1) There certainly are sickos out there. 2) Children do need to be either sheltered or made aware of the dangers. 3) There is often a disconnect between something’s intended use and its practical application. 4) You are absolutely right that the lense determines what the viewer sees, and that consideration should be given to the consequences to all parties involved.

    But what is the solution? Should the use of subjects younger than… what… 16? 18? 21? be completely banned in all countries all over the world? At what age does ‘informed consent’ start? Is there such a thing as ‘legitimate’ child models? Is nudity completely wrong, or does context count? Is a picture of a naked child sitting on rocks REALLY as bad as an image of a child in a highly sexualized position/act?

    I’d like to take this issue a little further and move it to the wide-scale. Would it be a mistake to view the art/porn issue as a spectrum with “porn” on the one end and art on the other? Everybody has a different idea of what constitutes art and what constitutes porn (an example I can think of is a teacher in Texas who lost her job because she took her students to see Michaelangelo’s David and the schoolboard viewed that as pornography). And as we have seen some people find nothing wrong with Ms. Nelson’s picture, while others are outraged. At the least, it was perhaps a poor judgment call on the part of the magazine and they should have put it on the INSIDE, and at the worst it was exploitation and manipulation at its basest (though I don’t believe in the latter).

    My last question is this: should we deprive Art and the Art World of what can be considered a legitimate art form for the sake of stopping what amounts to a very small sub-section of society who will misuse and misinterpret it?

  38. 38 portlandmike
    July 8, 2008 at 17:52

    The painter Balthus has been famous for seventy years. His paintings hang in the National and the Louvre… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balthus … this conversation has been going on for a long time. I

  39. 39 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 8, 2008 at 17:54

    You supplied a link to the series of which this photo was one. It’s an homage to Lewis Carroll, and each photo is reproduced on the blog next to the Lewis Caroll photo that inspired it.

    As one commenter there said, “How silly we look when we consider that not even the Puritans of Victorian England didn’t get themselves into a lather about the bodies of children.”

    More prudish than the Victorians. How silly indeed.

  40. July 8, 2008 at 17:57

    It is abuse and pornography. I have a six year’s old child and I don’t want to see her naked on a cover. This is really disgusting. Children is the innocense itself, nakedness is pornography, no matter how old is the person, especially children. Anyone does this should be considered illegal activity.

  41. 41 Count Iblis
    July 8, 2008 at 18:03

    In Islamic countries they ban women from dressing the way we are used to in the West for similar reasons. If you ask Islamic scholars about this, they’ll say that men should not be seduced, that it is to protect women against rape etc. etc., basically the same type of bogus arguments that are used to justify banning pictures of children.

    What should be illegal is abusing children. Pictures like this clearly don’t do any harm to anyone. The law does outlaw explicit sexual imagages. I think even this is wrong and counterproductive.

    If we want to fight child abuse, we have to take into account the fact that millions of pedophiles exist who are not the dangerous child rapers everyone fears. Then you have people who abuse children, post pictures of that on the web. Pedophiles can download these pictures for a fee.

    An effective way to deal with this problem is to make websites on which pictures of fictional children are posted (such pictures can be made digitally). Pedophiles can then download these pictures for free. People can then no longer make money by abusing children.

    Our attitude toward pedophiles can perhaps best be compared to the attitude of people in Islamic countries have toward gays. Both the pedophiles in the West and the gays in Islamic countries are persecuted.

    In Islamic countries, gays are potential “boy rapists” just like pedophiles here in the West pedophiles are potential “child abusers”. Of course men who rape boys are mostly gays, just like people who sexually abuse children are mostly pedophiles. But you can’t then conclude that the reverse is also true.

    Now, one can argue that unlike a gay person, a pedophile has a sexual disorder. But most pedophiles also have normal sexual feelings toward grown up people and are married. They are not going to abuse children because of their sexual disorder, just like gay people are not going to rape other men or boys just because they are gay, or heterosexual men are not going to rape women just because they enjoy having sex with women.

    Almost all pedophiles know that they can never act out on their sexual feelings toward children as that amounts to abuse, so they’ll not do that.

  42. 42 Ashi in New Jersey
    July 8, 2008 at 18:03

    There is nothing sexual about the photograph to me personally. But i do know that sex sells and therefore we are bombarded with sexual images in all forms of media and therefore we are programmed to look for sexual tones in all images. As the common saying goes, Art is in the eye of the beholder and therefore if you can see the art in the image then its artistic, but if the first thing you see is sexual tones then you will think the image is pornographic. With this particular image, its just a questions of the person who is looking at it. Also this image was taken by the child’s who would arguably know whats best for her child. And if she finds the picture artistic then i dont see anything wrong with it.

  43. 43 Will Rhodes
    July 8, 2008 at 18:05

    @ Victor

    I may be aggrieving some with this – but what I see in the world today is a majority of people who are classically under-educated, even those who have been to university.

    It’s like watching a group of gossips at the local purpose-built fence! The whole world is full of them – and they are the biggest political lobby out there. Because of this idiotic view of the world we have lost any sort of common sense that the vast majority once had – we are being led by the nose by these people.

    I do blame education establishments and those who govern them – and teachers. Where are the teachers who took kids to art galleries? Read the classics because they loved them? Now it is a matter of getting kids ready for tests rather than educating them.

    If you should roam from this political correct nonsense that infects our society today you are some sort of deviant.

    Read a book rather than The Sun, or other tabloid. Take time to appreciate the diversity in this world rather than what a weekly woman’s mag tells you is real.

    It’s sickening!

  44. 44 devadas.v - kerala
    July 8, 2008 at 18:06

    hello,
    if taking naked childrens photo is called art whatever human beings when born do is a art form in one way or other ..how can it be defended with artistic imagination as any dummy head can take girls or boys pissing and relieving and say its in artistic imagination i took.

    will the ones who support this 6year old nudity gives their big yes to natural pissing and trelieving too?
    art stands for seeing or creating something seen in a particular way or created with a purpose ..of the creators imagination ..

    then all paedophiles can they be called artists as they take every angle of nudity so that the viewers never misses even a point of human antatomy of the children,girls women ,men of all hues and colour ..
    when animals and human beings intercourse is filmed in blue will it comes under art form or not?

    if this 6year old naked is termed as artform let all blue films and pornographic pictures be stripped of that filthy title and legitimise it with artistic tag?

    HERE THE BASIC RIGHT OF THE CHILD IS ABUSED AS ITS THE PARENTS WHICH IS PUSHING THIS INNOCENT TO THIS NUDE SHOW NOT BY HIS OWN WILL ..SO FOR OUTRAGING THE MODESTY OF 6YEAR OLD THE ARTIST MUST BE ARRESTED AND MAKE STAND TRIAL ON CRIMINAL CHARGES ..

  45. 45 BlackKat
    July 8, 2008 at 18:06

    Anyone who thinks the pictures are sexual are themselves pedophiles, whether they know it or not.

    Intelligent people, who are better suited to judge artwork (or anything else for that matter) over religious people, all readily see the works as what they are. Just artwork. Nothing sinister.

  46. 46 nelsoni
    July 8, 2008 at 18:06

    Just the same with every other issue in the world today. Every one has reasons to justify their actions and people on the other side of the wall have reasons to see every thing wrong with it.So who is right or wrong? and by what standards are these conclusions made?

    strange world we live in

  47. July 8, 2008 at 18:07

    Photo’s of children naked, dressed like harlots, clowns or any other form represented does not titalate me at all. I don’t find children sexually attractive.The fact that some maladjusted indivduals do should not influence the representation of children nude in a gallery. And let me remind those that cannot distinguish art from pornography – it is not a naked child acting sexually, it is a picture. Most of our sexuality is formed at that age anyway – seems like a perfectly healthy artistic exposition on that subject.

  48. 48 Will Rhodes
    July 8, 2008 at 18:09

    @ PortlandMike

    Perfect example my friend, perfect example!

  49. 49 Dan
    July 8, 2008 at 18:10

    A lot is made of free speech but free speech has its limits.
    Do we strip away all that a child is just to satiate our need for “free speech”?
    Where then do we draw the line?

  50. July 8, 2008 at 18:11

    As an artist I appreciate the artistic value of the photograph but unfortunately there are some people that won’t see this the same way. Some people go to art galleries and see some famous paintings by famous artists and still don’t appreciate the artistic value of their paintings so its all about the way you view and interpret art.

  51. 51 Eric - melbourne beach, florida
    July 8, 2008 at 18:11

    throughout the ages artists have glorified the human body, it can be demure or pornograghic. the intent of the artist has to considered. do the pictures show genitals? is the context innocence? do the pictures incite the spiritually weak to commit horrible deeds? is the nakedness integral to the work of art? i would guess that in most cases it is not, but when i have seen naked children playing on a beach, it seems natural and innocent. how has society infected the minds of the weak so that this naturalness excites them? as a CHRISTIAN, i can tell you that if all were with CHRIST, this discussion would be irrelevant.

    satan is working in the world today and we as a society have to be alert to it.

    the devil does not have horns and a pitchfork, he is inciting the desruction of GOD’S kingdom through secularism. the natural order has been turned on its head. the life a child has become an inconvenience for many. in the usa over 35 million have been aborted, since 1972! what does that say about the value of the life of a child? is it any wonder that people do horrible things to children. society says that children are disposible! if you are a parent, protect your children. if you are a decent person, protect other’s children. if you are confronted with evil, stand up to it.

  52. 52 Mich
    July 8, 2008 at 18:13

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t lewis carrol said to have been a pedophile?

  53. July 8, 2008 at 18:13

    P l e a s e . . .

    Give me a break. There is nothing wrong with this photo. Its not that good of a photo mind you. Shooter needs to work on their lighting.

    I dont see where the controversy is.

    Totally absurd.

  54. 54 Debris
    July 8, 2008 at 18:13

    Hello!
    Artistic photographs of children may be very lovely but it matters a lot who views them. As the exposure of the naked body has been taken to extremes in the media and straight on the streets, I would tend to think that a restriction on the circulation of the photographs of naked children might rather be positive than negative. I mean to say that it’s high time people started reeducating themselves
    in the concepts of good and bad, fair and disgusting, moderate and extreme. The world would not suffer if the naked body and violence were wiped out one day utterly from the screens for the time being. Many an absolutely normal person happened to complain that merely the too frequent exposure of nakedness elicits revulsion and disgust in them. What is more, it seems that the cleaned screens and periodicals might change the tastes and reactions of the world if they appeared merely for variety’s sake.

  55. 55 Pat - Belize
    July 8, 2008 at 18:14

    In conversation both views are explored and naturally each view will be explored differently.

    The baby most used by artists is the Baby Jesus and He is almost always depicted in his Mother`s arms naked and this has special meaning to the artist and to the beholder. It is that Jesus came into the world empty that is to say penniless without anything at all.

    My view is that I do not want to see a child naked in any form since nakedness suggests a sexual quality and the slightest suggestion even a passing thought can and does lead us on to something else. I prefer to see a baby or a child clothed.

    Hopefully I will get to listen to the conversation.

  56. 56 Rev. Dr. Bledsoe - USA
    July 8, 2008 at 18:15

    I am a minister in the Presbyterian Church, USA. I believe children are a sacred gift from God and we have them under our care for such a short time. To do anything as wicked and pedophilic as taking nude pictures of these little ones simply blows my mind. It would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be cast into the deepest sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble and fall.

  57. 57 Dan
    July 8, 2008 at 18:15

    There have been numerous protests placeing the morals and values of today on actions of century’s gone by.
    Now we have your on-air personality saying that we need to use the values and morality of the past in today’s world and we can call it “art”.
    It is still stripping away the innocence of a child.

  58. 58 Adam in Portland
    July 8, 2008 at 18:15

    Anyone who finds this photo sexually provocative should consider whether he or she has the tendencies of a pedophile.

  59. 59 L. Walker
    July 8, 2008 at 18:15

    in a perfect world nudity would be artistic and not an issue.

    but we’re not in a perfect world and need to deal with it accordingly. we have made laws to protect children, and within that is the age of consent. a child doesn’t understand what’s really going on or where the picture is headed, and they are not old enough to consent to being used in that way.

  60. 60 Dee in Chicago
    July 8, 2008 at 18:15

    This picture is not pornographic, HOWEVER, the very existence of child pornagraphy dicates that all pictures of naked children are unacceptable. There is simply no need at all for such a picture even if the photographer is the mother. This picture would have been beautiful with the child clothed.

  61. 61 Andrew - Australia
    July 8, 2008 at 18:15

    Kevin Rudd is in some ways a luddite in his thinking and to paraphrase Olympia Nelson, perhaps Rudd should take some time out to learn about art!

    Yes there are deviants out there, but to consider that everyone interested in art or producing material is in some way a closet paedophile hiding behind art and artistic license is simply ignorant. Perhaps there is no great need to exhibit children in art, but they exist and they are part of the world around us so why should they not feature in art?

    Does this mean we cannot make representations of cherubs say, burn all the art of previous eras that feature children? What I find more objectionable is how many of those protesting against such art are themselves allowing their children to behave inappropriately and often allow (promote) their children to follow the fashions and trends that sexualise them. That is more disturbing, we see this everyday.

  62. 62 Bob H - Northern California, USA
    July 8, 2008 at 18:16

    Whether photographs of nude children are artistic or exploitative depends upon who is looking at them and what is going on within their own mind.

  63. 63 Zainab
    July 8, 2008 at 18:17

    Well this is ironic !! Of course it is an abuse.
    As i’m watching news on TV, i see in some poor countries “especially African countries” , nude children, i feel pity for them, I wonder why the reporters put such pictures on the screen, these pictures are unacceptable, but at the same time, They are only showing reality. Theses children are so poor they have nothing even they have no clothes to wear.
    NOW, what does this magazine want to say by putting the picture of nude 6-years old girl?!!! What is the message. Is it that we are made of flesh and blood, if it is so , i think we don’t need anybody to tell us this fact.
    I really find it disgusting, the world is turning into a JUNGLE. this girl is not a cat, she is a human being, where is HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH??
    I think this magazine must come in front of a court, because they violet the right of this girl.
    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  64. 64 Mich
    July 8, 2008 at 18:18

    sorry the computer didn’t record my entire post. The reason I ask this question (wasn’t lewis carrol rumored to be a pedophile?) is because I guess it starts at the source, if it’s meant to be then it is, if it’s not…then it’s not….though this is tough because i have seen a few photographs of naked girls squatting on a road in say india, that are pretty….graphic…and why isn’t that pornography if this is?

  65. 65 Shaun from Halifax
    July 8, 2008 at 18:18

    How did we go from art vs. porn to secularism is destroying society? I’ve personally never heard of anybody burning somebody at the stake, or putting them on the rack, or having somebody drawn-and-quartered, or clergy touching little boys, or starting a ‘crusade’, because of a secular issue…..

  66. 66 Tom D USA
    July 8, 2008 at 18:18

    Like someone said,

    “If mankind were meant to be nude, he’d have been born that way!”

  67. 67 Venessa
    July 8, 2008 at 18:19

    “Nakedness is pornography, no matter how old is the person, especially children. Anyone does this should be considered illegal activity.”
    _______________________________________________________________

    Are you kidding me? Are you embarrassed when you shower? Do you see your spouse naked? Were you born with clothes on?

    Come on people! Plain nakedness is not an argument; this is just prudish. There is nothing wrong with this picture. Nakedness is natural. I agree completely with Will’s assertion on this subject. He nailed it exactly.

  68. 68 kalypso-vienna,austria
    July 8, 2008 at 18:19

    yes, i understand the arguments of those who say it’s art and so. but i think to say that pictures of naked children are not a form of abuse is hypocricy. of course, it’s a form of abuse. and let’s keep in mind: abuse can also happen without the children being awear of it!! let’s keep in mind: children are easily influenced!!
    the austalian prime minister is right in this case: it is disgusting!!!

  69. 69 Jon - Portland, Oregon
    July 8, 2008 at 18:20

    All I can say on this topic is, if god had meant for children to be naked, he would have had them born that way.

  70. 70 Will Rhodes
    July 8, 2008 at 18:21

    @ Dan

    A lot is made of free speech but free speech has its limits.
    Do we strip away all that a child is just to satiate our need for “free speech”?
    Where then do we draw the line?

    I’m sorry? What do you mean by that?

    What has this got to do with freedom of speech?

    You draw the line when freedom of speech becomes hate speech. Freedom of expression can be art – again, look at the link PortlandMike gave.

    Those are beautiful artistic paintings – yet some would see them as pornographic, that isn’t the artists fault it is the observers fault.

  71. July 8, 2008 at 18:23

    @ victork13:

    I would most certainly like to endorse your position on this matter regarding the question of art “for the sake of it” and sexuality vis-a-vis children, as discussed above.

    I certainly agree that the over obsession with sex in our current context is a source of complete wonderment, especially regarding otherwise “harmles” images of naked children on the front covers of magazines or on the walls of posh, cosmopolitan art galleries.

    That said, however, is it not also true that part of the controversy surrounding this issue, especially insofar as it intersects between the worlds of pornography and a presumably (more) ascetic and, therefore, much more palatable artistic expedition, is the fact that the photos have the wherewithal to transgress those neatly ordered boundaries?

    Certainly, I am not suggesting that the photos are, in and of themselves, sexual. But, can it not also be argued that part of what art does is to force us to consider these possibilities, intentional or otherwise? Something must surely be said for how nakedness as a discourse, whether in artistic communities, or outside of it, is situated in society, currently, as well how it is read/ consumed.

    There is no escaping, therefore, the age old debate of whether children can and do have sexualities. Indeed, the Victorians in their near fanatical zeal in covering up, hiding and restricting pleasures while simultaneously seeking out new and creative ways of indulging same, were bent on seeing children as asexual.

    Thankfully, Freud and others have rescued us from this type of narrow thinking, which does nothing more than oppress, restrict and limit the boundaries of human expressions and personal freedoms. In that regard, I would daresay that the question of whether a child’s body can house within it sexual desire as well as whether an external audience can see such a desire, is really not the point. The question of responsibility insofar as that responsibility acknowledges the agency of the subject, as much as the agenda of the artist and his or her consumers is very much what we are talking about. No?

    I would be intersted in hearing your response.

  72. 72 Anthony
    July 8, 2008 at 18:23

    @ BlackKat

    Your comments are absurd. That’s like saying that people who think the war in Iraq is wrong are liberal hippie cry babies who hate America. Also, apparently, you’re so much more intelligent, and you get to draw the line between art and the perversions of the world. What a narcissistic load of “someone talking just to hear themselves talk”.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  73. 73 John
    July 8, 2008 at 18:23

    The picture looks innocent to me. I am a father of 2 kids (4 and 7 years, boy and girl). I have taken numerous pictures of them over the years.

    Sexuality has never had anything to do with it. I’m one of those parents who carry a camera in my pocket all the time. If the kids do something I think is “cute”, I will take a picture.

    Anyone sickened by this picture must be a closeted pedophile

  74. 74 Dan
    July 8, 2008 at 18:24

    @ Will Rhodes
    The on air “Personality” Robert being interviewed said it is a free speech issue.
    ….and yes Lewis Carroll was rumored to have less than artistic motives.

  75. 75 Anthony
    July 8, 2008 at 18:26

    @ Venessa

    Then why can’t we put Nicole Kidman or Jenna Jameson naked on the cover, and in the same magazine in the same poses?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  76. 76 Ashi in New Jersey
    July 8, 2008 at 18:28

    I have read two posts, here which say “If god had made people/children to be naked he would have made them that way” (Sorry if it is not word for word)

    In response God did make human beings naked. It was humans who put clothes on them.

  77. 77 Eoin, Dublin, Ireland
    July 8, 2008 at 18:30

    Come on people.

    Talk about a storm in a teacup – it’s a nice picture of a child (whether it’s ‘art’ or not who knows !) – only some nutjob (female or male) would see anything else – so why not get over it and don’t look if you don’t want to see it. ‘If thy eye offends thee – pluck it out’.

    Is there nothing more important to discuss?

  78. 78 Lee - Auckland
    July 8, 2008 at 18:30

    This goes towards a larger issue.

    The fact is it is squarely aimed at men. Apparently men are inherently evil and never to be trusted around children. Even your own it seems.

    I am tired as a man that I feel I need to apologise for being male. If I walk past a school I am naturally a pedophile. If I look at a woman I am naturally considered to be a rapist or stalker. If I take photograph anywhere in public I am guilty of being a pervert should any other human on the planet be in the frame.

    What is this hysteria gripping western society. Ask any genuine child agency or legitimate researcher in the area and you will see that evidence backs up the fact that most, virtually all, child abuse occurs within the home by relatives. Not by strangers. I am waiting for a time when I walk down the street with my kids in hand and for someone to call the police on me and have a tap on the shoulder by the boys in blue.

    And of course, not all men, not by any stretch, are vile predators as it seems we are meant to feel we are.

  79. 79 Tom D - Oregon (via email)
    July 8, 2008 at 18:30

    How did a person get so psychologically damaged that he thinks a naked human being is disgusting?

    I sure have to suspect religion, the promotion of guilt and shame.

    Surely every parent is delighted in their naked newborn!

  80. 80 Iessus
    July 8, 2008 at 18:30

    If we were meant not to be naked we would have been born with fur. If we were meant not to see we would have been born without eyes. If we were meant not to delight in form we would have been born without mind. Let them live in caves who cannot bear the light of day. Protect your children against those who would have them believe their bodies are not sacred. You who think this is obscene condemn those very children to a lifetime of guilt that they even possess a naked body. You are all hypocrites even discussing such innocence as if it were anything other than that. You should all be ashamed of yourselves not of the artist who shows you your own souls through the image of a divine child.

  81. 81 Guy
    July 8, 2008 at 18:30

    1: Why is nudity “disgusting”? Aren’t we all human beings with a human body? Is making nudity a taboo improving the way we look at each other?
    2: In my view, only a disturbed mind can say that a picture of a naked child is “disgusting”. Maybe it does not belong on the front page of an art magazine, but it is not disgusting and I agree with the young model being offended by the PM’s comments.

    I think it is time we all grow up and start accepting who we are as human beings.

  82. 82 kalypso-vienna,austria
    July 8, 2008 at 18:31

    when you let a child pose naked for a photo, this is a form of abuse! period!

  83. 83 Anna, Texas
    July 8, 2008 at 18:31

    This is not a sexualized image at all. I believe you have to look at the artist’s intent on a
    work as well as the subject matter. It is obvious that this child is not posing in a questionable
    way, she is certainly not exposing herself. You can’t even compare her to photographer Sally Mann, who
    sparked the same attention to her work. This sensationalized talk of the
    image comes from the same people who think that David is incident.

  84. 84 Kathleen - Portland, Oregon
    July 8, 2008 at 18:31

    We rarely see little boys naked in the name of art. Perhaps this is just the start of exploitation against women–start exploiting at a young age in the name of “art” and continue as they age in the name of “commerce”

  85. 85 Danny
    July 8, 2008 at 18:33

    Pornography and sexuality can be found through many avenues including the naked human body and other non human sources. A sexual response is always a reaction not always just a provoking point. One person may respond sexually to something that 99.9% of people would not find sexual, and on the other hand an image meant to provoke a sexual response may not in all viewers.
    This being said we need to abide by the social standard for pornography regardless of what some individuals may or may not approve of.

  86. 86 Venessa
    July 8, 2008 at 18:35

    Anthony ~

    I would have no problem with them being on the cover of a magazine in that pose. There is nothing wrong with it since it was done tastefully. Personally I don’t find that all naked pictures are sexual in nature or offensive. I think others have posted links to art that can speak to that.

  87. 87 Vijay
    July 8, 2008 at 18:37

    How many photos of kids are OK, 1,one hundred, a thousand or ten thousand .
    A BBC newsreader Julia Somerville got called in for police questioning after a person developing her roll of film complained that there were a lot of photos of children in a bath.In the age of the digital camera people can take hundreds of photos in a sequence with a click of a button.
    The BBC worldservice in a recent photo competition featuring the colour blue, banned the taking of photos of children.
    There is an iconic photo(by Nick Ut) of a Vietnamese child(Kim Phuc) running down a road with her arms outstreched completely naked after a napalm attack would that be banned under todays climate of concern.
    It all depends on the context of the photos and intent of the photographer.

  88. 88 Nadine
    July 8, 2008 at 18:38

    The pornification of childhood has been a trend in the west for over 30yrs. I’m not surprised that people are upset by this. Given the reality of how children are viewed and used today, is this a responsible act by the parents and magazine? To say that children SHOULD BE seen as innocent, naked, nude or otherwise, is not living in the world as it is.

  89. 89 L. Walker
    July 8, 2008 at 18:39

    art is subjective but this does not relinquish the artist of bearing the brunt of the responsibility for the interpretations of his work.

  90. 90 Stefan
    July 8, 2008 at 18:40

    The fact is, it’s rubbish. Why has no one mentioned that yet? I fully agree with Lubna, it’s sickening.

  91. 91 Ashi in New Jersey
    July 8, 2008 at 18:41

    In terms of abuse, taking a picture of a child nude or not is not traumatizing for a child, its the attacks he/she will face from an over conservative society which will traumatize them.

    The only time the picture will be pronographic is if it was intended for that very purpose.

  92. 92 paul
    July 8, 2008 at 18:41

    I don’t find the picture in the least bit sexual. It should not be a problem to show this and if someone does feel sexually arousal by this picture they need to be sorted out. Further more, if the child was in a bikini, some pervert would still be getting off on it. It’s very sad.

    Paul
    Clackamas, Oregon, USA

  93. 93 Vernon
    July 8, 2008 at 18:42

    I don’t see it as sexual/porn/unacceptable.

    People who look at this picture in a sexual way are the ones with the problem.

    So all the people who are up in arms about this image probably need psychological help.

  94. 94 Anthony
    July 8, 2008 at 18:44

    @ Venessa

    But then thats just someones opinion. If I wanted to take a picture of me naked with “USA” written on my chest, and in the pic I was pooping on a cake with “Iraq” written on the side, then whats wrong with that if I put it on a cover of a mag? It would be a statment in a humorous way, that got a lot of attention. Whats the difference???

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  95. 95 stefan in prague
    July 8, 2008 at 18:44

    the very people that are alarmed about people having a sexual feeling about such photos are the very ones we should keep an eye on, as i think they themselves have that doubt in their own mind. thatshould not stop the rest of us enjoying naked images of people. naked doesn’t mean sexual or erotic.

  96. 96 John Smith - Jamaica
    July 8, 2008 at 18:45

    Art has always tested the boundaries on public morality and eventually won. Is this the start of common sense fighting back against our need to make a “statement” or is this just another case of obscene today, o.k. tomorrow. Freedom of expression should not be allowed to supercede moral virtues.

  97. 97 Jamie - Santa Cruz, California
    July 8, 2008 at 18:46

    Hi folks,

    Apparently I ran naked in front of the TV camera at some national surf contest in Australia when I was 3 and it was broadcast across the country. Nobody made a fuss about that and I turned out pretty sane to boot. I think people are just to sensitive today and need to relax.

  98. 98 kalypso- vienna,austria
    July 8, 2008 at 18:47

    obviously, there’s a difference: when children play naked in the sand or so and the parents take a picture, it’s ok, of course! but when you tell a child to pose naked for a photo, it is a form of abuse!!

  99. 99 Jason - Seattle, USA
    July 8, 2008 at 18:47

    This argument was somewhat reflected in the United States recently when 15 year old teen pop star Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana was photographed by master photographer Annie Liebowitz, showing her bare shoulder with the rest of her naked upper body covered by a bedsheet. There was such a rediculous uproar about this photo and the singer felt the need to apologize due to the fervor of the parents of her teenage fans, even though the person Liebowitz shot right before her was in fact the Queen of England!

    I ask you this… should the famous 1972 Vietnam War photograph by AP photographer Nick Út of the young girl running down a war ravaged street be deemed pornography because she is naked?

  100. 100 Tom - Oregon (via email)
    July 8, 2008 at 18:48

    That picture you linked to is certainly not titillating! What’s wrong with your guest?

  101. 101 Christine Ratliff
    July 8, 2008 at 18:48

    What a beautiful and creative work of art! My 5 year old daughter and I have been looking at ithe painting for a while now, and we’ve decided it must have been wonderful to play mermaid.

  102. 102 Justin In Iowa
    July 8, 2008 at 18:48

    I think that the biggest problem with this is the possible PRECEDENTS that NOT punishing this as pornography involving a child can set. It can set precedents which real child pornographers can use as a shield. From my perspective, when this artist chose this medium, he was extremely selfish. He chose a dangerous path for… honestly I don’t understand this art, so I can’t speak to it.

  103. 103 Jess - Portland, OR
    July 8, 2008 at 18:49

    First of all this picture is crap, and Australia should be embarrassed that this picture is on the cover of its national magazine not because it’s pornographic but because it’s rubbish.

    I don’t think that we can create blanket rules about pictures of nude children. This one is not pornographic at all; nothing sexual about it. Let’s not simplify the matter by calling this work porn and getting up in arms about it.

    Art is not the problem. It will never be.

  104. 104 Everyman
    July 8, 2008 at 18:51

    Fascinating and necessary discussion.

    The question may not center soley on the content of the image. As many have discussed, classical art can be — and has been — seen as insulting to and corrupting of morals. This illustrates the challenge a globalizing world faces in understanding events.

  105. 105 Peter Reagan
    July 8, 2008 at 18:51

    Abuse, Art, Pornography are all words, and their meanings are deeply imbued with the experiences and upbringing of the speakers and listeners. The experience of the child and the society is more important than the label. Who is embarrassed by the photo? Does the publication incite hurtful activity? There never is a bright line. The closer one approaches possibly hurtful, the more people will be adversely affected. On the other hand, staying with Norman Rockwell is perhaps overly limiting. The debate is the thing, not the conclusion, which will vary dramatically with culture, individual experience, place in society and current public events.

  106. 106 Shan
    July 8, 2008 at 18:53

    I wonder if it is the fact that this child was six at the time to which people are having such an exaggerated reaction. Why don’t we hear the same uproar whenever they pick up a fashion magazine. The fashion industry, far more often than not, employ minors to seductively and suggestively sell their wares.

  107. July 8, 2008 at 18:53

    It is hypocritical, bizarre, and warped to to see immorality in taking the picture of a mere child — which the child may find amusing when she or he grows up, if the child is one’s child — and not to see immorality in nude culture by adults, same sex marriage, sexual profligacy, contraception and abortion, and even to promote and defend those most dissolute, offensive and criminal attitudes as right and popular culture, even among mere children.

    Prince Awele Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  108. 108 jamily5
    July 8, 2008 at 18:54

    It is not just about pornography.
    frankly, a nude body is a private thing.
    We don’t live in a nude society and tell our children to cover themselves.
    Why don’t we want our children walking around nude?
    Well, that is the same reason that we don’t want to see nude pictures of children.
    Maria Alexander says that her family has some baby pics of her nude and threatens to show them to future fiancees — much to her embarrassment.
    But, she just countered her own point. Don’t you think that it is a possibility that that six-year-old will be embarrassed, sometime in the future.
    And imagine how many people saw “that” photo.
    We have had teens and young women who have said that they thought posing nude was a good idea at the time, but after reflection or consequences, they wish that they had not done it.
    So, if grown women might rethink their decision,
    then, shouldn’t we respect the body of a child?
    Being nude is exposing all of our vulnerabilities.

  109. July 8, 2008 at 18:55

    It seems that the world has lost all sense of morality. Adults have a more likely chance of making an informed desicion about whether or not to show their naked body. A child CANNOT. This is a disgusting and exploitative way for artists to profit. There is no benefit for the subject. The speakers currently on air seem to have either lost their mind or have never had it.

  110. 110 Robert
    July 8, 2008 at 18:55

    This is a sign of how overblown and over politicized the fear of pedophilia (or terrorism for that matter) has become. The acts of pedophilia are very rare (thankfully) but the sever outcomes mean it is at the forefront of many parents minds, instead of the more mundane everyday things that can hurt a child which get overlooked like basic road safety for instance.

    This availability in peoples minds of the horror of the crime means the press jumps on it. Its an easy story, and a victim a wrong doer whom nobody will side with and argue the corner off, case closed your honour, in the eyes of a trail by the frontpage.

    This then filters up to those trying to grab attention via the press, like politicians. Each one of them falls over each other to condemn in ever stronger words the acts, trying to win votes and appear to be tuned into the problems of ordinary people. As all politicians and public campaigners know, it’s better to appear proactive that reactive so they start condemning stuff that might have a hint that somebody could use for the illicit act, safe in the knowledge that if anybody ever pointed out the exaggeration of the case then that person is accused of side with the pedophiles and leaving the kids up to future abuse.

  111. 111 Jeff
    July 8, 2008 at 18:58

    I think the people who refer to this girls nude body as “disgusting” are more guilty of child abuse than the fine people who took the photograph. It is completely tasteless and rude of these critics to insult this young girl by referring to her natural body as obscene or pornographic.

  112. 112 Venessa
    July 8, 2008 at 18:58

    Anthony ~

    The difference is we are discussing this photo of a child. Of course everyone’s view is subjective and it doesn’t matter what argument I present; you will find a way to twist it. This pose was not sexual in nature and if any other model (male/female) were to pose nude in the same position I still wouldn’t be offended by it.

    As far as the depiction you describe for yourself ~ go right ahead. Again, I am not offended. I can simply avert my eyes. Art is subjective.

  113. July 8, 2008 at 18:58

    Any one finding image of a nude child sexualy arousing, must question own pedophilic tendency.

    Australian PM has demostrated he certainly finds the image sexual, or that he tries to please a group of people for political reasons.

    Some people get sexualy aroused by looking at sexual parts of a dog or horse, so do we put cloth on animals too??

    Its up to you what you find sexual, if image of a naked human gets you sexualy exited, dont push your openion on rest of us.

  114. 114 Shaun from Halifax
    July 8, 2008 at 18:59

    Let me frame this in a completely different, and less inflammatory way: should we stop selling spraypaint because some people will huff it? Should all vehicles be equipped with speed limiters because some people will speed? Should laxatives be taken off the market because some people will abuse them and potentially die?

    Nakedness is NOT always sexual. Disturbing in some cases (like catching your naked out-of-shape neighbour walking around in a towel) yes, but not always sexual. Sexuality or lack thereof is a completely subjective view depending on where you fit onto the spectrum I postulated above (waaaaaay above). If you are offended on a religious/moral ground, then that’s fine but chances are I don’t worship your god so that argument is meaningless to me. If you are offended on a societal/legal grounds, well at least you’ve given the issue some thought. If you can look at the picture and see art instead of pornography, congratulations. You are apparently a well-balanced, sane, rational adult.

  115. 115 Ben
    July 8, 2008 at 18:59

    I’m all for naked art [ I simlpy find the David and all the Sculptures of Antinous divine works of art] but where I draw the line is the Annie Leibowitz shot of poor Miley Cyrus. This as far as I can go. This I can forgive but not this. This child is too young to be posed in such a provocative manner and what’s worse is the romantic background. I suppose a decent mind mustn’t think of such things but in world where we are used to adult ladies posing the same way to attract sexual interest, a youngster would certainly incite the most evil molester. No No No No, it is a crime against her, and her audience. This picture would have worked for me as an innocent artform if she had been a little covered such as in Miley’s case. Ben from New York.

  116. 116 Pavy
    July 8, 2008 at 18:59

    There is a difference between pornography and nudity, and that difference is rooted in the intent behind the image taken. Each and every one of has childhood pictures of us in the bath or running around naked. Are we going to seriously argue that our parents intended those pictures to be pornography, simply because we were naked? That they derive some sort of sexual gratification from these pictures?

    If someone is turned on by these pictures of me as a 5 year-old in a bath, that is THEIR problem and their sick, sexual deviation. It says nothing about my parents, nothing about me, and nothing about society.

    This is just more fear mongering.

  117. 117 James DeVries
    July 8, 2008 at 18:59

    Big point somewhat missed in the whole discussion: sex crimes are in the eye of the beholder.

  118. 118 Deelo
    July 8, 2008 at 19:02

    while I think this a silly controversy , what scares me is the amount of religious people who are using this as a springboard for pontification. quite frankly has a consumer of pornography (granted it doesn’t have children in it) I do not feel that this is pornography, how can it be? it’s a little girl on a rock! go to the beaches in some parts of the USA, in france, in greece and almost anywhere else in the world and you might just see…. NAKED CHILDREN ON THE BEACH!!! quite innocent, nothing sexual, just children playing on a beach! my mother has a photo of me naked in a plastic bathtub, she would call me a cherub, is that pornography? should I call the police?

  119. 119 Mike
    July 8, 2008 at 19:07

    The picture is probably art as opposed to child pornography and I am sure that the parent had innocent intentions. However, outside of medical text books, nude photographs of anyone over the stage of infancy should only be taken with the consent of the individual. A minor cannot legally consent, therefore, the parent taking these pictures was abusive in my opinion.

  120. 120 jamily5
    July 8, 2008 at 19:08

    @Claire and others,
    The thing is that those baby pics are private.
    they are shown within the family.
    No parents sends these baby pictures to the local newspaper.

    I also don’t think that one needs to expose themselves to “be comfortable with their body.”
    I love my body and am not ashamed of it.
    However, I respect it, enough to only devulge its innermost secrets discretely to someone who I deem worthy… … not the world.
    But, this is my choice… ..
    and should be her choice when she is adult enough to make it.

  121. 121 Anthony
    July 8, 2008 at 19:10

    @ Venessa

    Yes, my point exactly. If this is fine, then no one can complain if I chose to distribute a magazine right next to Newsweek with the most disgusting, vile cover with feces, blood, and dead animal parts, since art is subjective.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  122. 122 Will Rhodes
    July 8, 2008 at 19:11

    @ Shaun

    Let me frame this in a completely different, and less inflammatory way: should we stop selling spraypaint because some people will huff it? Should all vehicles be equipped with speed limiters because some people will speed? Should laxatives be taken off the market because some people will abuse them and potentially die?

    You wouldn’t be surprised at how many say that we should do exactly that.

  123. 123 Susanna L
    July 8, 2008 at 19:12

    As a Brit living in the US for the past 16 years I have often been frustrated by the confusion here between nudity and sexuality. I am also an artist and over the course of my education and professional life have seen perhaps 100s of naked people who’ve posed in art classes. Not once did I consider that to be a sexual context and I would feel quite comfortable saying that that was also true for the other artists in the classes and for the models too. Perhaps this has something to do with my feelings about this subject. But for many, if not most Americans, the idea that nudity and sexuality can be exclusive is a difficult one to take on board. Often I meet people who’ve never even considered the possibility that the one can be separated from the other.
    I do agree whole-heartedly with one of the commentators on today’s show who said that she felt it was extremely dangerous to start legislating or controlling nakedness in art. I can’t help but feel that we (the world as seen from the US) are stepping backwards into repression and fear. I think that the general culture of fear and paranoia here is largely unfounded, fueled by mass-media and limiting to growth and education.

  124. 124 Lovemore
    July 8, 2008 at 19:24

    Nakedness has never been art if one insists on calling it art then I would term it “perverted art” . The child has been taken advantage of. She could not consent to having her picture taken and published. I hope the kid sues him when she grows up!

    Lovemore,
    Lusaka,
    Zambia.

  125. 125 Pangolin-California
    July 8, 2008 at 19:30

    To quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail…….

    ” CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch! We’ve got a witch! A witch!
    VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch, might we burn her?
    CROWD: Burn her! Burn!
    BEDEMIR: How do you know she is a witch?
    VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
    BEDEMIR: Bring her forward.
    WITCH: I’m not a witch. I’m not a witch.
    BEDEMIR: But you are dressed as one…….”

    You dummies. The powers that be in the world have invited you all down to the witch burning while they loot your homes. Look to what Kevin Rudd REALLY should be focusing his attention on while he’s yanking your chain with photos of little girls.

    Climate Change
    Peak OIl
    Financial Collapse
    Corruption
    Ecological Collapse
    Malthusian food crisis.

    No, no. “We’ve got a witch.”

  126. 126 Danny
    July 8, 2008 at 19:32

    The question is, Is the photo appropriate? Absolutely. It does not insinuate a sexual or indecent pose or act. A child with or with out cloths and unexposed without insinuation is innocent. It is the viewer that can find a sexual reaction.

    If a person gets aroused by such a picture, then they are the one with the problem , judging by the mass majority of social laws and moral ideals.

    Art is a separate issue and falls under the same rules as the rest of us.

    I just wish that the people who are offended by such a photo would concentrate on real pornographic and offensive images.

  127. 127 odega shawa
    July 8, 2008 at 19:40

    We live in a world in which the most simple aspects of natural development leads to the worst imaginable nooks of abuse. Much of natural art is nakedness. But I think art is insensitive of contemporary social reality if it pretends ignorance of the clear and present danger involved in displaying the picture of a naked little innocent girl. It would take only a single loose pedophile out there somewhere. The next very possible little innocent victim is what should be foremost on our minds. No issue related with this topic is more important.

    odega shawa, lagos Nigeria.

  128. 128 Susanna L
    July 8, 2008 at 20:03

    “But I think art is insensitive of contemporary social reality if it pretends ignorance of the clear and present danger involved in displaying the picture of a naked little innocent girl. It would take only a single loose pedophile out there somewhere.”

    With all due respect, this is precisely the sort of paranoid thinking that I was talking about. As the father of this child quite rightly pointed out, most child abuse is perpetrated by someone trusted by the family not by random strangers. The chances that a masked criminal will climb in through the window are remote. It is far more likely (though heaven forbid) that this child might be involved in a car accident – but we put our kids in cars every day. Should we wrap our kids in cotton wool and keep them under lock and key to ‘protect’ them? What sort of a world will result from raising kids in fear? What sort of adults will they become?
    It’s true of course that terrible things do happen to innocents – I do not pretend that they don’t. But far too many people are swayed by what they are fed through a fear-mongering news business that magnifies the worst aspects of society and does nothing to highlight and encourage the very real (and much more prevalent) good in it.

  129. 129 Dan
    July 8, 2008 at 20:05

    You know when the debate has come to a dead end when someone drags “We have to use the energy we are wasting on this issue to solve all other “evils” first”.
    Rather than see this devolve into personal attacks we need say that we had a good debate but there are irreconcilable differences and we cannot solve this today.

  130. 130 James DeVries
    July 8, 2008 at 20:11

    Wow, you posted me right away! Here’s the adjunct, then I’ll shut up. Criminal intent and crime (as defined by the rule of law, to be continually updated by responsible legislative reactions to executive and judicial counterbalances; or so we hope since at least the reforms of Cleisthenes of Athens or the reminders of Cicero during his last, literary stage, or John Locke’s famous crystallisations, or Voltaire, or Franklin, or Jefferson…), criminal intent and crime, as I say, belong to the committer of the outrageous act, not to any innocent, perhaps artistic, perhaps a bit naively vulgarly artistic, inspirer, who has committed no outrageous act. Unless the production of an object, an object of art, or even of advertising art, which we all so happily consume without effectively complaining about it, is purposively designed to provoke an outrageous act, it is not an outrageous act in itself. Outrageous, in the case at hand = physically damaging to individuals of species just trying to get on with day-to-day existence and survival. Seeing images of naturally naked infantile or youthful living beings, in mammalian or avian creatures (re)produced via sexuality and themselves promised to sexuality, one way or another, is no crime. Clothes are not disguises for sexuality. Clothes are adaptive responses of highly calculating and communicative creatures to the chances of existing and surviving in precarious environmental niches. The moral explanations for them were never top-down God(s)-to-man. The explanations were grassroots, to explain and/or warn against the harsh and lethal consequences of not observing the gathering socio-economic culture. Sorry about that. Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same. Violating said imagistic purity due to anomalous psychotic reaction whether biochemically or culturally induced (and I stand by those terms) is generally considered a crime, even in today’s supposed atmosphere of relativistic morality. Rape a child, that’s a crime. Even I agree with that; but my painfully acquired liberal arts background, very deep and very wide, at a major American land-grant university for an inordinate amount of undergraduate years (avoiding participation in unjust proxy wars) forces me to reflect, reflect, reflect, not genuflect, genuflect, genuflect. Child, child, on the score of how to relativise morality and measure virtue and vice across a lifetime of behaviours and practices, Aristotle was so far ahead of us that to laugh is to choke. One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one day.

  131. 131 Melanie Chassen
    July 8, 2008 at 20:11

    I could be completely off base, but perhaps my blessing/curse is the ability to see things from both sides and unfortunately, in the case of this debate, end up squarely on the fence.

    I do believe that nakedness and sexuality can be separated. An example: my brother is almost ten years younger than I. I remember clearly those days in his childhood where he would happily run around the house completely naked. My observation that my brother was naked was in NO WAY sexual. So, to pose a question, if I had taken a picture of him running around, would that make it a sexual picture? I don’t believe it would.

    Perhaps the more important thought is this: maybe what really matters is the relationship the viewer has with the subject. I could never see any of my close friends or family in a sexual way, whether they be naked or not. Maybe what creates the shades of grey in terms of what is art and what is pornography is the relation to the subject. If the picture is of someone we know, it’s more ‘acceptable’ to us because we know them. When the picture is of a stranger, maybe that is what evokes the feelings of ‘taboo’ or something we shouldn’t be looking at.

    My personal opinion on the matter? It depends. If the photo is of a naked infant, I do not see that as exploitation. Babies came into the world naked, and lucky for them, spend a short time blissfully unaware of societal norms, like the appropriateness of wearing clothes. If, on the other hand, it is of a nine-year-old dressed up like a bar slut… yeah, I’d have a problem with that. I guess everyone has their limits of how much they can appreciate the human form. It’s the separation of the human form from the thought process of “that is a real person – someone’s child/sister/cousin” that muddies the appreciation.

  132. 132 John in Salem
    July 8, 2008 at 21:37

    One caller made the case better than anyone else I’ve heard or read here – he said the child on the rocks at the seashore looked like she was posed as one of the Sirens of Greek myth who lure sailors to their death.
    Not even Chloe saw that coming.

    How you see art reflects what is in YOUR mind. If you find something pornographic in a photo like this you need to be looking in a mirror instead.

  133. July 8, 2008 at 21:43

    @ Shaun in Halifax:

    Like you, I heard the unfortunate argument on the programme, that nakedness was almost always sexual and felt that that might have been an oversimplification, in some respects, in terms of how some of us have raised it here.

    Whether you find your “out of shape” neighbour attractive, sexually that is, indeed, a purely subjective manner. However, the question of nakedness in a context where it is generally counterpointed as the reverse of being clothed in the overly sexualised cultures in which we live, currently, is another by itself.

    Regardless of the levels of offensiveness of a particular work of art there is no denying the extent to which nakedness transgresses certain boundaries of constituted morality under particular circumstances. This would automatically mean that regardless of whose body which is reflected in a specific artistic context that there is almost, always an attendant set of issues related to desire. Whether this is sexual is another matter by itself, as again we move into the realm of the subjective.

    To suggest that because people have raised the issue of whether children are, indeed, endowed with a sexuality as equivalent to pedophilia, as some others have said, is very inaccurate, as a result. Indeed, to suggest that there is not a real danger in terms of what one blogger calls the “pornification of children”, is to also miss the nuances of a largely materialistic culture that defines beauty in extremely physical and, at times, outlandish way.

    Think for instance of how the international fashion industry colonises and commodifies the bodies young women/ girls as a way of normalising the ideals of beauty that it is invested with through the domain of “high fashion”, itself, a form of art. It was not so long ago, in fact, that there concerns about the emaciated appearances of some models as well as their ages, in terms of youth. There is often, therefore, an elasciticity that governs the constructions of sex/ uality, beauty and gender in this regard.

    Surely, one is not suggesting that children are, necessrilly, sexual beings in this sense. However, it cannot be missed that, that part of the spectacle art allows is the capacity in which to create these less than wholesome readings of even the most “innocent” of bodies and beings.

    And that, is still not the main point which revolves around whether it was a responsible act of parenting for Olympia Nelson’s parents to have made such a decision about the usage of her image in the current context. What role does art play, in other words, in exploiting such decisions regarding the question of consumption? Is consumption even an issue?

  134. 134 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 8, 2008 at 22:35

    Olympia is so confident and unashamed, and her father showed himself to be the voice of pure, sweet reason, concern, love, and wisdom on the radio today. She is one very fortunate child.

  135. 135 CarlosK
    July 8, 2008 at 22:46

    Hi All,

    I have a question for you all. Is it alright to have a six year old boy or girl POSE stark nake for a photo shoot?

    Let us be very clear, this is not a photo of a six year old girl running around in wild abandonment. This is staged. What would drive any mother to do such a thing? And what does she hope to gain/achieve from this? Is she motivated by money? Fame or fortune?

    I think we should focus a little on the mental state of the mother. To take this staged picture for private consumption is bad enough but to share it with strangers is mindboggling! This mother’s head should be examined.

    Carlos,
    Kingston- Jamaica

  136. 136 Dennis
    July 9, 2008 at 02:43

    i think it is a little bit of art and a whole lot of abuse, depending on the situation.

    dennis
    onondaga community college
    syracuse, new york
    united states of america

  137. July 9, 2008 at 02:47

    Today’s relevant point has been more than made in the letters above. I can only re-emphasize it by contrasting our world to yesterday’s. In ancient Greece and Rome, during the Renaissance, in pre-British India, during the Romantic period of western art, the depiction of the human form in all its glorious nakedness was ART–or it was trash. Trash didn’t survive, but Art did and hangs or stands in the exhibit halls of our great museums. Aphrodite, the Discus Thrower, Michelangelo’s David, Venus de Milo and a thousand others. Even naked children can be seen in the great paintings of the Renaissance and later, usually with wings as cherubs and always thoroughly innocent. Beauty, grace, inspiration, a direct appeal to the spiritual and loftier sentiments in the viewer, that was both the intent and the effect.

    Today we’re neither so innocent ourselves nor so clean minded. Times have changed because WE have changed. Photos of naked children in voluptuous poses ARE PORNOGRAPHIC whether in intent or effect in the minds of the sick. They endanger children everywhere. Photos of naked children in whatever pose appeal to the lowest common denominator among the world’s worst examples of the human male. Therefore such photos cannot be regarded as ‘art,’ regardless of any other considerations. And they are not. In intent or in their effect, they are pornography in the minds of some people and therefore criminal.

    Haven’t we witnessed enough cases of children stolen, bought and sold into the sex slave trade? Whole villages in SE Asia have been left with no children, some as young as toddlers and into the teens, sold to brothels and into the sex slave trade. There child brothels all over the globe now catering to the depravities of anyone who can pay. Are anybody’s children anywhere safe from sex predators today? Do we need to encourage and entice these mentally sick people? Naked children, TODAY, belong at home! And NO photos!
    Such photos are allurements our children are paying for!

  138. 138 Justin in Indiana
    July 9, 2008 at 04:47

    Cherub

  139. July 9, 2008 at 08:01

    Hi,

    I think any abuse and mistreat with children which stand for people under age 18 is an offence. For this issue, the government should put some new lines in their constitution to make some harsh penalties, long time emprisonment, fining and so on to control these abusers.

    Unfortunately, when the central item is money, and people share money with everybody who is in this structure tree, the role of law is weak. Today, despite justice, the money talks. All of those are for increasing 1$ to 2$. It’s a business.

    You see this was happened in Australia, a new and developed country from first world countries. Just you imagine where law has no meaning what is going to happen as child right abuse.

    Thanks,
    Alireza Aghakhani.
    Italia

  140. July 9, 2008 at 10:23

    an abuse comes only with the level of how we imagine with our imagination.the angle at which the picture is taken could also be what matters.whether its front view,side view,back view or birds eye view.but people from a nation like Australia which is used to seeing naked Aborigenes and awful surfers should be the last one to complain

  141. July 9, 2008 at 14:23

    Thanks for linking to my article on the image being a recreation of a Lewis Carroll photograph.

  142. 142 ESSEL BENJAMIN
    July 9, 2008 at 15:58

    I personally think that a naked pics of a six year old sitting on a rock is not only a human right issue but also an issue derogation of the dignity of an inocent child.I’m glad that the president of Australia himself has described as disgusting.

  143. 143 ESSEL BENJAMIN
    July 9, 2008 at 16:04

    I personally was happy when I heard that the President of Australia has described the pics of a six year old naked girl sitting on a rock as ‘disgusting’

  144. 144 Jeff Minter
    July 9, 2008 at 17:11

    How pathetic humanity has become. Due to the actions and thought processes of a few (i.e. paedophiles) the entire world population has become engulfed in this ‘is this wrong’ mindset, to the extent where a father can no longer hug his daughter in public for fear of what everyone around him thinks. Or indeed, being ‘emotional’ t
    towards his other children is wrong and seen as suspicious because society no longer has the attitude of helping each other out, moreso being wary of each other.

    Having said that, after listening to the father on the WHYS podcast, the guy is obviously borderline paedophilic – his voice, his mannerisms..halfway through the show he wasn’t paying attention as he was “seduced” by the host’s voice? Creepy.

  145. 145 primal convoy in Japan
    July 9, 2008 at 18:12

    Thanks for the edit, Viktor. The irony here is that in Japan its LEGAL to POSSESS child pornography but not to distribute it. The sheer level of the stuff that goes un-noticed is amazing. I went to a toy convention a few times and child pornography, or pornography was on sale next to toys and even by parents with kids of their own (running around the stall with it all on sale). Graphic depictions of stuff involving child-like dolls being abused both sexually and physically, and yet this is considered “art” by some people in Japan.

    Also, the underage girl mags are not nude. They depict underage girls in bikinis or school uniforms etc in mildly sexual poses. some could be mistaken for pages taken from a mail order clothes catalogue. These books too are considered “art” by some people.

    I think that we should value our kids and although my dear old mum proudly displays my entire life on her walls via giant photo montages (about 6 in all, including pics of me naked, in the garden and having my first potty-trained poo), I still feel that public displays of child nudity are not appropriate. After all, look at the darker underbelly of Japan…where now they have underage girl maids to serve you drinks and food (as the recent “Maid Cafe” craze featuring “age of consent” girls wasnt enough for young people):

    Note: Both maid cafes and the underage version are NOT sex shops or prostitution dens, but the Japanese equivalent of “Hooters”, just with the boobs replaced by lots of “kawaii” girls acting as if you are an important lord…whilst wearing frilly, skimpy French maid costumes. They regular maid cafes are even popular with girls and “normal” people too!

    Although Im sure that Japan isnt the only place where it happens, the Japanese press (as unreliable as they are, BBC reporter bods!) often report of underage girls being abused, raped or paid for sex. I also think its not illegal to have sex with ans underage girl, but merely to pay her for sex (thus many men circumvent this by engaging in “enjo kosai” or “compensated dating”, where they get the girl a gift such as a LV bag and pay for a meal and the girl takes the bag to a pawn shop and gets cash later).

    Thus there is a lot of “child art” in Japan, which may or may not be linked to a heck of a lot of underaged girls and boys being sexually and/or physically abused, often by men in quite high positions of authority and respect (google it for yourself).

  146. July 9, 2008 at 22:18

    Interesting discussion, especially in the radio broadcast, where a child advocate spoke so much sense about art and the terrible consequences of limiting freedom based on ignorance.

    Many here insist on universalizing their own ignorance, preference, or prejudice, in the form of “If I don’t do something, no one should.” That’s hardly acceptable. There is such a tenuous connection between images of nudity and sexual crime against children (which is much rarer than most people fear) that to push for censorship based on such a notion is preposterous.

    The uses of nudity are many. The media and law enforcers have, inadvertently or not, convinced the public that they are three, and the first two don’t count: showers, medical, and sex. That superficiality eliminates much that is illustrated by art itself, naturist philosophy, and other aspects of history and psychology.

    The body phobia typical of the anglophone world, together with its general sex-negativity, is reflected in the even more superficial and harmful attitude that public representation of nudity is always sexual, immoral, disgraceful, obscene, and all the rest. The harm comes out in part by the inability of millions of people, especially girls and women, to accept and keep healthy their own bodies. The real epidemic isn’t pedophile crime but body dysmorphic disorder.

    Body phobia and sex negativity is the line taken by many governments and religious groups, who know that to repress the body enables them to control the population much better. If you can make people ashamed of themselves and live in notable suppression or fear, you may remove many fundamental freedoms, at home or elsewhere, in order to increase your ideological control.

    That goes rather far afield, I realize. I will just end by congratulating the Nelson-Papapetrou family not only on its spelndid work in art (going well beyond this image) but on its holding up to the barrage thrown at it, which, while often well-meaning, I can only see overall as pathological.

  147. 147 Murton
    July 10, 2008 at 05:08

    I can hardly see the merits of taking nude pictures of children and claiming it is “art”.

  148. 148 Livia Varju
    July 10, 2008 at 09:49

    The explanations of the father two days ago made me sick. He was talking and talking and beating around the bush, trying to confuse the interviewer.
    There are hundreds of thousands of pedophiles. First they only look at pictures of children in suggestive positions, then that isn’t enough and they go out to look for the real flesh and blood child. (Just like consumers of pornography, including violent pornography, who at first only look at pictures, then want to imitate what they have seen. E.g. Ted Bunty in the US.)
    Olympia’s father has put his own daughter in danger.
    What for? Money, I guess. Livia

  149. 149 Angela
    July 26, 2008 at 18:01

    Nudity is not shameful and child nudity in the right context should not be shameful. People today forget there id a difference between sex and nudity. For example, my parents took photos of me as a toddler playing topless. Should they be arrested? No! What parent hasn’t taken an innocent photo of the bare bottomed baby on the bearskin rug? And honestly, a Pedophile isn’t going to care if a child is nude or not. They could look at a photo of a child fully clothed, playing in a sandbox and get aroused.

    Now don’t get my wrong. Child pornography is disgusting and I would beat the daylights out of any man or woman who would hurt a child. However, a photo of a nude child is not pornography IMHO is the child is not engaged in sexual activity nor exactly posed provocatively. My opinion on the picture in question? I don’t think it’s necessarily pornographic since the private region is covered with shadow effect. However, I think it would have been a better photo is the girl was presented in a more natural and innocent state. Example: if she was running and playing in the ocean water or at least splashing her feet. I don’t think child nudity in art is harmful so long as the privates are covered in some way and the child is doing something children do naturally.

    Now mind you I’m no liberal nor a conservative. I have a European mentality when it comes to nudity. I don’t think it nor the bare bosom are harmful and should not be treated as taboo int he right setting (beaches, sunbathing, etc). If God intended the human body to be something to fear then he would never hare created humans the way we are. The nakedness Adam & Eve were ashamed of was the realization between right and wrong and their fear if disobeying God.

    Bottom line: Judge on intent, not content. Not all nudity is porn.

  150. 150 trace
    August 6, 2008 at 01:15

    Wow, I cannot believe how many judgmental people there are out there! Just as child porn is sick, so is judgment. I can respect others opinion on why they do not approve of this picture. However, it sickens me to read the nasty judgment that so many have of the mother that took this picture. That she needed “to be examined”. That it was all about money. Or of how creepy someone’s voice is… Come on! Do any of you know these people you blast? Can you stand in their shoes?
    Protect our children…yes. Stand together against child porn….yes. Voice your opinion…please. But the judgement has GOT to stop. Didn’t Jesus himself speak of the evils of judgment? “He who casts the first stone…”

  151. October 4, 2009 at 23:47

    It has nothing to do with “cultured” to accept nude photos of children. That is the biggest crock I can imagine.

    I am so angry at how this undermines Artist freedom, by the very artists who abuse them…

    quoting myself in “These Girls of the Future will Kick your Ass!”
    Click here: —> http://bit.ly/10SeZ6 <—

    "And it is precisely the fact that Art should {and does} have freedoms to depict controversial material, that it is likewise called to a higher standard of self-regulating “censorship” so that it does not have wait for the state, or other bodies, to intervene and impose blanket restrictions for the rest of us.”

    Artist please stand up and show the world you have some discernment!

  152. November 9, 2009 at 16:36

    EVERYONE is born naked. Those who feel taking pictures of naked kids is wrong should never have been born because they, too, were a naked kid at one time in their life. I can’t stand people like that because it seems they spend their lives looking for something to condemn others for, Shakespear hit a thing liker this right on the nose: Me thinks the lady protesteth overmuch. I am the father of four girls and one boy. I have a nude picure of each…IN THE FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM…and not one viewer has ever spoken negativey about them. In fact most guests comment how cute they are. French and Italian beaches are loaded with naked kids. Most get their pictures taken. Topless girls, too. NORMAL people see no wrong in this.
    So let the old battleaxes (I’m sure all complainers are old females) complain. Just shows they are out of touch with the twentyfirst century.

  153. 153 Simplicity_ Sam
    December 13, 2009 at 00:48

    I am from the school that if you find nude pictures of children to be disgusting and pornographic you are in fact a bit off course and need to seek psychiatric help before
    you hurt some poor child. Get a grip on reality. Mothers and Fathers through out time have, since the onset of photography wanted to capture images of their
    children in the nude as babies and toddlers. Maybe so they can use them to threaten the child into obedience later in life, lol, but they are definitely not for pornographic purposes. I find the human form to be very artful in all stages of development and gender. It has all the shapes curves and shadows that any painter or photographer could possibly desire in a subject matter. The human body
    be it adult child male or female, is a work of art unto itself, and deserves reverence.
    It does not need to be slandered, and registered as profane, in the public eye, by a bunch of holier than thou’s.


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