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ART – Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery: Bill Henson – Police say they will not prosecute

May 23, 2008toMay 31, 2008

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Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery: Bill Henson

EXHIBITION CLOSED  U.F.N…The controversy…What They’re Saying & the Roslyn Oxley Media Statement.  What do you think?

Latest updates – No case to answer say Police

 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery: Bill Henson Exhibition – Police close exhibition

Copy of  the Media Statement From The Roslyn Oxley Gallery website.

Friday 23 May 2008

Statement on behalf of Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery and Bill Henson

After much consideration we have decided to withdraw a number of works from the current Bill Henson exhibition that have attracted controversy. The current show, without the said works, will be re-opened for viewing in coming days.

Bill Henson is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists and is internationally respected. His works are held in every leading art institution in Australia and are included in the collections of a number of the world’s most prestigious art museums. The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria have both recently held a retrospective of 30 years of the artist’s work.

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery will remain closed while the current exhibition is re-hung.

The Australian Newspaper says

Kevin Rudd says Bill Henson naked child pics revolting  – May 23, 2008

PHOTOGRAPHS of naked underage girls at a Sydney art exhibition shut down by police are revolting and have no artistic merit, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

Police last night shut down the Sydney exhibition of Australian photographer Bill Henson’s work, featuring photographs of naked children, as they investigate its legality.

The exhibition was scheduled to open at 6pm (AEST) yesterday at Roslyn Oxley gallery in Paddington, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The show includes large photographic prints of topless children, one of which was included on the opening night invitation.

Mr Rudd today weighed into the debate about the merits of the artworks, saying he thought they were “revolting”. “I find them absolutely revolting,” he said the Nine Network.

“Kids deserve to have the innocence of their childhood protected. I have a very deep view of this. For God’s sake, let’s just allow kids to be kids.

“Whatever the artistic view of the merits of that sort of stuff – frankly I don’t think there are any – just allow kids to be kids.”

However a leading art expert disagrees saying naked body has been the subject of art for thousands of years.

The question, said art market analyst Michael Reid, is “have the images be sexualised?,” and believes they have not.

The exhibition contains photographs of naked 12- and 13-year olds and was scheduled to open at 6pm (AEST) yesterday at Roslyn Oxley gallery in Paddington, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

It includes large photographic prints of naked children, one of which was included on the opening night invitation.

The images angered child protection group Braveheart, which labelled them child pornography and yesterday called for Mr Henson and the gallery to be prosecuted over the photographs.

But artists and gallery patrons view the shutdown as “censorship” of genuine art.

Mr Reid, who calls Mr Henson Australia’s most significant photographer, says the artist has frequently used young adolescent models as part of his broad range of work, but the images are not pornographic.

He said there was a difference between the image of a nude 12-year-old and a sexualised image of a nude 12-year-old.

“He’s done a huge body of work that goes across a whole range of areas … rural landscapes, a famous Paris opera series … and these adolescence ‘Twightlight Zone’ photographs for about 15 years,” Mr Reid said to ABC Radio.

“Certainly (there have been images of) adolescents naked on cars – that series must be at least a decade old.

“I think the sexualisation of children is an extremely important (issue) – the naked body, whatever age, has been a subject for thousands of years.

“The question is was there consent, which I can’t answer, and has the image been sexualised?

“In my opinion, it wasn’t.”  ….The Australian

Child art gallery shut..Sky News

Police have shut down a controversial child photo art exhibition in New South Wales.

The exhibition featured photographs of naked 12 and 13 year olds taken by Australian photographer Bill Henson.

The exhibition was scheduled to open last night at Roslyn Oxley gallery in Paddington in suburban Sydney. The images have angered a child protection group, who say the pictures are child pornography.

But artists and gallery patrons view the shutdown as censorship of genuine art.

Public pressure forced the gallery to cancel the opening just before it was due to open. Police say the exhibition will remain closed to allow an investigation, and they want to speak with a girl featured in the photos before making any further decision….Sky News.

And what started it all? 

This article from The Daily Telegraph?

“IF any of The Daily Telegraph’s photographers shot and presented images even half as incendiary and vile as those planned for display at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery, they would be out of work – and probably inside a police station.

Creative elites have long used the defence of “art” to get away with words and images that in another context – that is to say, outside of art galleries and among normal people – would result in condemnation or criminal conviction.

Try publishing art photographer Bill Henson’s child-obsessed work in a mainstream publication.

You would be shut down in a flash, and rightfully so.

Yet the same images are meant to be acceptable – even inspiring and elevating – when presented at galleries such as Roslyn Oxley9.

We don’t buy it.

Exploitative and degrading images of children are exploitative and degrading – no matter if they are presented in a grubby magazine or in some Paddington art “space” where you get a discount on admission if you’re wearing a beret.

Henson, the photographer in question, whose work has long eluded public censure, seems something of a work himself.

He “presents adolescents in their states of despair, intoxication and immature ribaldry”, according to Art Monthly Australia.

Translation: he takes pictures of kids wearing no clothes and sells them for tens of thousands of dollars. Some of the images that were to be shown at Roslyn Oxley9 (pretentious, much?) cost as much as a decent second-hand Falcon.

Both Premier Morris Iemma and Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell are right to be revolted by the gallery’s planned exhibition.

O’Farrell got it perfectly right with this comment: “Sexualisation of children under the guise of art is totally unacceptable.”

And we empathise with Iemma’s absolute bewilderment: “I don’t understand why parents would agree to allow their kids to be photographed like this.”

Nor do we understand the mentality that could conceive of these graphic and distressing photographs as any more artistic than those found in the lowest reaches of the internet.

Closing this exhibit represents a clear win for decency….Daily Telegaph

 Don’t think we have heard the last of this….MiSociety

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 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery 8 Soudan Lane, Paddington NSW 2021 Phone: 02 9331 191

Email: oxley9@roslynoxley9.com.au

Web: www.roslynoxley9.com.au

Exhibition: Bill Henson Opening Drinks 6-8pm (until Saturday, 21st June) (22 May–21 Jun)

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