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Ryokan
2nd October 2009, 02:49 PM
Picture of very young and very naked Brooke Shields (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/celebritynews/6248384/Brooke-Shields-picture-withdrawn-from-Tate-exhibition-after-police-visit.html) is withdrawn from an art gallery after protests from children's campaigners led the police to visit the gallery.

""Putting the picture in a room with a warning outside really is a magnet for paedophiles" says one children's activist."

And I say, so what? Seriously. There are many good arguments she could've used, but this one? Who does it hurt if pedophiles visit art galleries? If there could be a guarantee that no pedophile would be able to enter the gallery, would it then be okay to have the picture there? Are they afraid that pedophilia is contagious or something?

It reminds me of the argument about not having children model clothes in clothes catalogues, because pedophiles might get a thrill out of it. So what? As long as it's not hurting anyone, I don't care what goes on in the minds of people.

oldhat
2nd October 2009, 02:51 PM
Pedophile hysteria.

Cain
2nd October 2009, 03:11 PM
Pedophiles have it rough, man.

Ryokan
2nd October 2009, 03:16 PM
Pedophiles have it rough, man.

That was not the point at all, and I don't see how you got that out of it.

terry_leopard
2nd October 2009, 03:44 PM
I think that it's a pretty week argument, as you say, as I can't imagine a pedophiles first stop for finding child porn is going to be the Tate gallery.

However there is a very good argument for not displaying the picture, as Shields was to young to consent to having the photograph take, and certainly too young to understand the implications of such an image. The fact that as an adult she doesn't want the image displayed would suggest that as an adult she certainly wouldn't consent to having such a photograph take.

So in my opinion this is an image of child abuse, not art, and has more validity wrapped in an evidence bag then hanging on the wall of an art gallery.

Seismosaurus
2nd October 2009, 03:49 PM
There seems to be a feeling that it is a Bad Thing when a pedophile feels lust, and that we should go to most any lengths to avoid it.

Stop pedophiles from assaulting children, absolutely. But stop them from simply becoming aroused? A rather pointless exercise in futility, I'd say.

Bet this will sell a lot of newspapers, though.

tyr_13
2nd October 2009, 03:53 PM
There seems to be a feeling that it is a Bad Thing when a pedophile feels lust, and that we should go to most any lengths to avoid it.

Stop pedophiles from assaulting children, absolutely. But stop them from simply becoming aroused? A rather pointless exercise in futility, I'd say.

Bet this will sell a lot of newspapers, though.

Not at all! All we have to do is make sure children wear dark, full length robes and some sort of head covering while in public so that they don't detract from the worship of god get pedos all hot under the collar.


Joking aside, I think the entire 'picture of a picture' thing is as good a reason as any not to display it as art.

Safe-Keeper
2nd October 2009, 04:36 PM
Without media hysteria: the picture stays up, and some paedophiles see it, but little harm is done.
With media hysteria: every paedophile in the world googles "Brooke Shield bathtub" and whip out their boners. Poor girl.

I've seen the picture (having googled Brooke Shield bathtub :p and found it hosted on, are you ready, richarddawkins.net:D), and one part of me says it's just another image of a nude ten-year old - watch a couple Scandinavian films and you become desensitized rather quick. Ronja Robber's Daughter, for one, has Ronja and Birk run nude down a beach, their 'no-no squares' (:rolleyes:) mostly concealed by all the water they kick up.

On the other hand, the picture is of a bit of a 'sexual' nature, what with her body posture and facial expression, which understandably makes it offensive. Though... this is perhaps part of the message the photographer is trying to send - the 'sexualization' of children and young teens.

Not at all! All we have to do is make sure children wear dark, full length robes and some sort of head covering while in public so that they don't detract from the worship of god get pedos all hot under the collar. We're fresh out of burqas, unfortunately, they were all handed out to hot chicks so they wouldn't get raped.

ETA:
However there is a very good argument for not displaying the picture, as Shields was to young to consent to having the photograph take, and certainly too young to understand the implications of such an image. The fact that as an adult she doesn't want the image displayed would suggest that as an adult she certainly wouldn't consent to having such a photograph take.

So in my opinion this is an image of child abuse, not art, and has more validity wrapped in an evidence bag then hanging on the wall of an art gallery.Except it doesn't work that way. Kids who find themselves photographed as disaster victims or civilians in war zones do not necessarily understand the implications of the pictures taken of them, either, and may object to having the photography taken and spread, perhaps with an untrue political spin. If a child, say, participates in a funeral to say goodbye to a dear friend that was murdered and some journalist shows up to pester the funeral attendees with his camera, should his photo wind up in an evidence bag, too?

Checkmite
2nd October 2009, 04:53 PM
Except it doesn't work that way. Kids who find themselves photographed as disaster victims or civilians in war zones do not necessarily understand the implications of the pictures taken of them, either, and may object to having the photography taken and spread, perhaps with an untrue political spin. If a child, say, participates in a funeral to say goodbye to a dear friend that was murdered and some journalist shows up to pester the funeral attendees with his camera, should his photo wind up in an evidence bag, too?

I believe there's a important difference between incidentally photographing a child who happens to be at a place where a significant or unfortunate event is occurring, and taking a picture of a specific child posed suggestively in an immediate and intimate setting like a bathroom.

If Brooke Shields wants a naked picture of herself as a child to not be shown, it should not be shown. I can't believe there's even a debate, if that's the case.

Algebra34
2nd October 2009, 07:59 PM
Don't lock the art away. Lock the pedophile away. If the picture is really that attractive to pedophiles maybe use it as bait to catch them. Put that art in service to the man.

I took a peek at a Big Mac on a billboard today. I then went and got me a SUPERSIZE. It'll probably give me heart disease. Where's my protection from that evil fast food porno? Who will save me?!! I pay my taxes damn it.

Alt+F4
3rd October 2009, 08:48 AM
Don't lock the art away. Lock the pedophile away.

I agree with you about the pedophiles, but is the photograph in question "art"? Since when is a photograph of a naked child art?

I don't think the photograph should be shown because it's tasteless and does nothing other than continue to bring embarassement to Brooke Shields. Why should she continue to be hurt over something she had no control over?

Darth Rotor
3rd October 2009, 09:10 AM
I agree with you about the pedophiles, but is the photograph in question "art"? Since when is a photograph of a naked child art?
Depends on the context, probably.
I don't think the photograph should be shown because it's tasteless and does nothing other than continue to bring embarassement to Brooke Shields. Why should she continue to be hurt over something she had no control over?
She tried to get the negatives, the rights, back in 81. It seems to me that whomever was using this photo is being a completely insensitive prick to Ms Shields unless his people did NO background at all on this photograph.

DR

volatile
3rd October 2009, 09:15 AM
The photo was printed IN PLAYBOY after being sold to the magazine by her mother. Which is screwed up, basically.

The "art" here is the demonstration that the sexualisation of children is pretty damn creepy. Strangely, perhaps, you'll find that Prince would broadly agree with the moral revulsion towards the image. Moral revulsion is the point of the image, and key to its message.

Darth Rotor
3rd October 2009, 09:22 AM
The photo was printed IN PLAYBOY after being sold to the magazine by her mother. Which is screwed up, basically.

The "art" here is the demonstration that the sexualisation of children is pretty damn creepy. Strangely, perhaps, you'll find that Prince would broadly agree with the moral revulsion towards the image. Moral revulsion is the point of the image, and key to its message.
I appreciate and understand your points, but I think Prince is being naive in assuming he can do this in an artistic vacuum.

Did he work this out with Shields ahead of time, yes or no? If he didn't, I think he's made a poor choice.

Her being a rather famous/infamous person adds titillation to the equation, to his display and themes. If he's more focused on his message, as you suggest, that factor Prince needs to account for.

The idea to have it off to the side isn't a bad one, it is a step to mitigating the problem of celebrity and "oh dear, a naked girl!" issues. I don't think it addresses the issue of his using a celebrity's photo with sufficient thoroughness.

If Ms Shields is on board with his display, and his theme, that's another story. It would add significant legitimacy to his display, and maybe the "it's over there in the discrete booth" is a "best that can be managed" mitigation.

IIRC, that issue of Playboy is out of print, but I may be wrong about that. Shields and her semi porn Calvin Klein blue jean ads were a big deal when she was a teenager, in a decade where prudery had not quite made its comeback. The momentum of the sexual revolution was still present. Our current cultural climate is not the same. For you or Prince to pretend that it is strikes me as naive, again.

DR

volatile
3rd October 2009, 09:32 AM
I appreciate and understand your points, but I think Prince is being naive in assuming he can do this in an artistic vacuum.

Did he work this out with Shields ahead of time, yes or no? If he didn't, I think he's made a poor choice.

Her being a rather famous/infamous person adds titillation to the equation, to his display and themes. If he's more focused on his message, as you suggest, that factor Prince needs to account for.

The titillation is part of the message.

Shields is on record as being uncomfortable about the image, which makes it even more powerful from an artistic point of view, but it does make the question of whether or not it should remain on display in a gallery more problematic, I agree.

The idea to have it off to the side isn't a bad one, it is a step to mitigating the problem of celebrity and "oh dear, a naked girl!" issues. I don't think it addresses the issue of his using a celebrity's photo with sufficient thoroughness.

I agree. It's difficult. Very difficult. Interestingly, this difficulty is itself is a product of the work. We're talking about the issues Prince wants us to talk about; thinking about the issues Prince wants us to think about - in that respect, the work is successful.

Safe-Keeper
3rd October 2009, 09:33 AM
I believe there's a important difference between incidentally photographing a child who happens to be at a place where a significant or unfortunate event is occurring, and taking a picture of a specific child posed suggestively in an immediate and intimate setting like a bathroom. Not really. If I attended a funeral and was in deep grief and some insensitive jerk with a camera insisted of snapping up-close pictures of me (which would serve to make me even more uncomfortable), for then to use them in some political context I disagreed with, I'd be very much against their publishing.

Then there is stuff like A Perfect Storm, that took a real tragedy and turned it into entertainment, against the wishes of the family and friends of the people who lost their lives.

This is a far broader issue than child nudity.

If Brooke Shields wants a naked picture of herself as a child to not be shown, it should not be shown. I can't believe there's even a debate, if that's the case.There's debate because, again, that's just not how it works.

Darth Rotor
3rd October 2009, 09:37 AM
The titillation is part of the message.

Shields is on record as being uncomfortable about the image, which makes it even more powerful from an artistic point of view, but it does make the question of whether or not it should remain on display in a gallery more problematic, I agree.

I agree. It's difficult. Very difficult. Interestingly, this difficulty is itself is a product of the work. We're talking about the issues Prince wants us to talk about; thinking about the issues Prince wants us to think about - in that respect, the work is successful.
Yes, I agree, and part of what we need to think about are two things:

The knee jerk reactions of some of the people to the exhibition

Ms Shields.

She may be a celebrity, with all the baggage that comes with it, but she is being exploited by Prince as (though in a different way) she was exploited by her mom, Playboy, and Calvin Klein. In Prince's defense, it is a second or third order deal, exploiting the story of exploitation, but the taint can't be scrubbed off of this.

Oh dear, I didn't realize this.
Then there is stuff like A Perfect Storm, that took a real tragedy and turned it into entertainment, against the wishes of the family and friends of the people who lost their lives.

DR

shadron
3rd October 2009, 10:23 AM
Depends on the context, probably.

She tried to get the negatives, the rights, back in 81. It seems to me that whomever was using this photo is being a completely insensitive prick to Ms Shields unless his people did NO background at all on this photograph.

DR

Well, there is the small problem of her mother having signed a contract in her name for the photographs to be taken, and the photographer to own them for any purpose he chose; she was paid $450 for them (there are a number of them). He happened to be working with Playboy on a project, and there you have it (BTW, the photos didn't get into Playboy the mag per se; they appeared in some specialty book they published. Two court trials affirm that the contract is binding on both her mother and herself. Brooke then tried to get an injunction on the basis of invasion of privacy, but her movie career torpedoed that right out of the gate. She only has her mother to blame, I guess, except it was her mother's work, including the photos, that got her to where she is today (or was yesterday, if you prefer).

Darth Rotor
3rd October 2009, 11:20 AM
Well, there is the small problem of her mother having signed a contract in her name for the photographs to be taken, and the photographer to own them for any purpose he chose; she was paid $450 for them (there are a number of them). He happened to be working with Playboy on a project, and there you have it (BTW, the photos didn't get into Playboy the mag per se; they appeared in some specialty book they published. Two court trials affirm that the contract is binding on both her mother and herself. Brooke then tried to get an injunction on the basis of invasion of privacy, but her movie career torpedoed that right out of the gate. She only has her mother to blame, I guess, except it was her mother's work, including the photos, that got her to where she is today (or was yesterday, if you prefer).
Thanks for the corrections.

Yes, a fine example of pimping one's daughter for riches. Hmm, works for parents of B Spears, M Cyrus, B Shields.

Should I have pimped my beautiful daughter for an attempt at riches?

No.

DR

Checkmite
3rd October 2009, 01:27 PM
Well, there is the small problem of her mother having signed a contract in her name for the photographs to be taken, and the photographer to own them for any purpose he chose; she was paid $450 for them (there are a number of them). He happened to be working with Playboy on a project, and there you have it (BTW, the photos didn't get into Playboy the mag per se; they appeared in some specialty book they published. Two court trials affirm that the contract is binding on both her mother and herself. Brooke then tried to get an injunction on the basis of invasion of privacy, but her movie career torpedoed that right out of the gate. She only has her mother to blame, I guess, except it was her mother's work, including the photos, that got her to where she is today (or was yesterday, if you prefer).

So both an insensitive and spiteful prick, then.

Checkmite
3rd October 2009, 01:29 PM
Not really. If I attended a funeral and was in deep grief and some insensitive jerk with a camera insisted of snapping up-close pictures of me (which would serve to make me even more uncomfortable), for then to use them in some political context I disagreed with, I'd be very much against their publishing.

Sorry - you're right. What I meant was, it's different from somebody taking a photograph which happens to incidentally feature certain children, although they are not the subject of the photograph.

Checkmite
3rd October 2009, 01:34 PM
The titillation is part of the message.

Shields is on record as being uncomfortable about the image, which makes it even more powerful from an artistic point of view...

I disagree; I believe it just makes the "artist" a jerk.

I'd like to see some kind of statement from the exhibitors indicating that the point of displaying the image is to send the message that "pictures like this are creepy". Because I think people are baselessly speculating about Prince's motivations here.

Is Prince the original photographer? If he is, then are we to understand that the Playboy book it was taken for was about the creepiness of naked kid photos? Because I'm kind of doubting it.

Safe-Keeper
3rd October 2009, 01:40 PM
Sorry - you're right. What I meant was, it's different from somebody taking a photograph which happens to incidentally feature certain children, although they are not the subject of the photograph.Of course. I think we were talking past each others, and I agree with you.

volatile
3rd October 2009, 01:47 PM
Is Prince the original photographer?

No. It is a photograph of the original Playboy book, which Prince had nothing to do with.

It is a photograph of a media representation. That, indeed, is part of the reason this work is so powerful. It's doing what it meant to - get us all to think about the commodification and sexualisation of children in contemporary society, and the juxtaposition between that and the media burble on paedophilia / stranger-danger and all the rest. It is a decontextualised, stripped-down (re)presentation and distillation of a massively complex and complicated and deeply disturbing set of issues. It does, in other words, what all good art should do.

The more I think about the piece, the more I like it. That is to say: the more I think about the piece, the more I dislike it... Disgust and horror is what this piece is meant to do.

Shields not wanting the image to be displayed only makes the issues at play starker. The piece is more powerful because of her disdain. But I'm torn about whether she should have the final say over its display. I'm really not sure.

Beerina
5th October 2009, 09:11 AM
Have they seized all the copies of Pretty Baby (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078111/), yet?

I think you can see her topless there, too. She was 17 on the day the movie was released, much less when filmed. And she played a 12 year old, I think.

tyr_13
5th October 2009, 09:40 AM
No. It is a photograph of the original Playboy book, which Prince had nothing to do with.

It is a photograph of a media representation. That, indeed, is part of the reason this work is so powerful. It's doing what it meant to - get us all to think about the commodification and sexualisation of children in contemporary society, and the juxtaposition between that and the media burble on paedophilia / stranger-danger and all the rest. It is a decontextualised, stripped-down (re)presentation and distillation of a massively complex and complicated and deeply disturbing set of issues. It does, in other words, what all good art should do.

The more I think about the piece, the more I like it. That is to say: the more I think about the piece, the more I dislike it... Disgust and horror is what this piece is meant to do.

Shields not wanting the image to be displayed only makes the issues at play starker. The piece is more powerful because of her disdain. But I'm torn about whether she should have the final say over its display. I'm really not sure.

In this regard, as art, I'd say it is lazy. It's a picture of a picture and unless the artist did more with it, deliberating with the light settings or making it part of a larger hole, perhaps a picture of someone looking at the picture, then it's nothing.

I mean, the art professors keep shooting down my brother's project ideas because they are too 'obvious' (despite the other students not getting the message). Under this standard, this piece is as subtle as a hammer.

If one were to make the same point in a discussion, and use the existence of this photo as supporting evidence, then it would be doing the same job and still not be 'art'. Now I'm not saying this isn't art, but I can't find it good art personally.

GreyICE
5th October 2009, 11:45 AM
In this regard, as art, I'd say it is lazy. It's a picture of a picture and unless the artist did more with it, deliberating with the light settings or making it part of a larger hole, perhaps a picture of someone looking at the picture, then it's nothing.

I mean, the art professors keep shooting down my brother's project ideas because they are too 'obvious' (despite the other students not getting the message). Under this standard, this piece is as subtle as a hammer.

If one were to make the same point in a discussion, and use the existence of this photo as supporting evidence, then it would be doing the same job and still not be 'art'. Now I'm not saying this isn't art, but I can't find it good art personally.

In paragraph 1 you complain that the artist didn't do enough to make the message even less subtle.

In paragraph 2 you complain that it's about as subtle as a hammer.

I think you don't like the picture, but I'm not sure your artistic criticism is totally unbiased here. And that speaks to its effectiveness as a piece - if you weren't unsettled, you would have caught a glaring logical flaw such as the one above.

Darth Rotor
5th October 2009, 11:53 AM
Shields not wanting the image to be displayed only makes the issues at play starker. The piece is more powerful because of her disdain. But I'm torn about whether she should have the final say over its display. I'm really not sure.
For my money, her position on this is a bit more important than the "it's a naked kid" complaint.

DR

The Atheist
5th October 2009, 12:02 PM
I agree with you about the pedophiles, but is the photograph in question "art"? Since when is a photograph of a naked child art?

When the photo is taken by Bill Henson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Henson#Controversies).

volatile
5th October 2009, 12:24 PM
For my money, her position on this is a bit more important than the "it's a naked kid" complaint.

DR

Given that I generally think empathy is often a good tool to get to grips with ethical dilemmas, I think you're probably right, on balance.

That doesn't mean it's bad art. It's unethical art, perhaps, but no less interesting for that.

Bill Thompson
5th October 2009, 12:29 PM
Dude, who wants to see a naked kid anyway? That is just freaking sick. It ain't art.

Psi Baba
5th October 2009, 12:37 PM
Have they seized all the copies of Pretty Baby (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078111/), yet?

I think you can see her topless there, too. She was 17 on the day the movie was released, much less when filmed. And she played a 12 year old, I think.
She was born May 31, 1965. Pretty Baby was filmed between June and September, 1977.

Careyp74
5th October 2009, 12:43 PM
Have they seized all the copies of Pretty Baby (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078111/), yet?

I think you can see her topless there, too. She was 17 on the day the movie was released, much less when filmed. And she played a 12 year old, I think.

Do the math again

volatile
5th October 2009, 12:46 PM
In this regard, as art, I'd say it is lazy. It's a picture of a picture and unless the artist did more with it,

What do you mean? The art is in the decontextualisation - and in the way in which the decontectualisation was achieved.

Think of it this way: for viewers of the original image, in its original context, there is little that is controversial (for the intended audience). The image is presented as a titilating, sexualised, prurient. Though we can (if we were so inclined) critique the aesthetics of the original photo in the way you're suggesting, I don't think it would be of much use, and I for one would find it distasteful.

Then: Prince takes the image and, for starters, takes a picture of it. We're then immediately distanced from the original context. We're no longer active consumers of the original, lascivious image, but one step removed, looking at not the image itself, but how the image is presented. A subtle, but crucial distinction. Prince's piece is not simply a distasteful sexualised image of a child, but an image of how children are distastefully sexualised in images. That's the first artistic point of note.

The second is our complicity in the sexualisation. When the picture was a grubby little image of an anonymous child in a periodical to be leered over in private, this child as a flesh-and-blood human being was easily suppressed, easily objectified. One imagines that the target market of the original image gave little thought to the deep moral offensiveness of sexualising a child in that way, and even if they did they never had to confront it because the image was intended to be viewed (I flinch at using the word "enjoyed") in private. When Prince re-presents the image (as an image-in-an-image), and makes it public - the deep moral problems it brings into focus must be confronted. The very fact that the outrage about Prince's image taps into fears of paedophilia makes this as clear as it can be. "Look at this", Prince is saying. "Can we talk about this?". We can't sweep this under the rug.

That the image is of Brooke Shields, with all the cultural baggage and extra layers of meaning that brings to the discussion, and that it was her mother who profited from the sexualisation, and that such images are shocking in a particular way that is very much of the current moment, just add to the power of the piece.

It's disgusting. It's exploitative. And that's exactly why it's powerful. Why it's good art.

But, as I said - I fully understand and respect why Ms Shields doesn't like it, and would probably agree that her wishes should be very much taken into account when deciding if the work should be displayed. But that doesn't make the piece bad, at least not in the artistic sense.

Careyp74
5th October 2009, 12:47 PM
I am confused about the actual piece, because none of the sources I found mentioned the Playboy book. Was the art piece actually a photo of the page in the book?

volatile
5th October 2009, 12:48 PM
Dude, who wants to see a naked kid anyway? That is just freaking sick. It ain't art.

Are these sentences supposed to be connected?

volatile
5th October 2009, 12:50 PM
I am confused about the actual piece, because none of the sources I found mentioned the Playboy book. Was the art piece actually a photo of the page in the book?

Yes.

Bill Thompson
5th October 2009, 12:52 PM
Are these sentences supposed to be connected?
There is no art in photographs or images of naked kids. Well minded persons would not see anything appealing or enjoyable or creative or enlightening in such images.

volatile
5th October 2009, 12:55 PM
Just because something is "sick", doesn't mean something isn't art. Just because "no-one wants to see [something] anyway", doesn't mean it isn't art. Your three concepts are not in any way connected to one an other.

There is no art in photographs or images of naked kids. Well minded persons would not see anything appealing or enjoyable or creative or enlightening in such images.

And again. These two sentences do not follow. Even if the second is true (it probably is, in part), it does not make the first sentence true.

The concepts of "appealing or enjoyable or creative or enlightening" are not co-extensive with the term "art". Art can be none of those things.

Careyp74
5th October 2009, 12:59 PM
Yes.

Found a reference after asking the question. I like this quote that I found:
"Nobody cannibalizes an image like Richard Prince, who has carved his place in contemporary art by recycling, reflecting, and reframing photographs, cartoons, advertisements, and other images already existing in the public sphere."

How can he call that, and the scrapbook stalking cutouts of Pamela Anderson art? I am gonna go take a photo of the Mona Lisa now and make millions.

Tricky
5th October 2009, 01:00 PM
Dude, who wants to see a naked kid anyway? That is just freaking sick. It ain't art.
Sure, a naked kid can be art. You see them in classic artwork all the time (http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/cupid.jpg). but if someone is sexually aroused by it, I think it's sick. As much as I believe in artistic freedom, I don't want to pander to paedophiles.

volatile
5th October 2009, 01:01 PM
Found a reference after asking the question. I like this quote that I found:
"Nobody cannibalizes an image like Richard Prince, who has carved his place in contemporary art by recycling, reflecting, and reframing photographs, cartoons, advertisements, and other images already existing in the public sphere."

How can he call that, and the scrapbook stalking cutouts of Pamela Anderson art? I am gonna go take a photo of the Mona Lisa now and make millions.

It doesn't work like that.

volatile
5th October 2009, 01:02 PM
Sure, a naked kid can be art. You see them in classic artwork all the time (http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/cupid.jpg). but if someone is sexually aroused by it, I think it's sick. As much as I believe in artistic freedom, I don't want to pander to paedophiles.

Hey, neither do I. I hope you don't think that by discussing the artistic merits of this work I'm pandering to paedophiles.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

bookitty
5th October 2009, 01:15 PM
You can't judge art by the reaction of a very small minority of mental ill people. Where does that stop? Also, when are people going to realize that pedophiles don't have magic eyeball rays that can reach through photographs.

The naked child in art is not sick. Nudity has symbolism, that symbolism is different with children. There's a huge difference between the works of say, Sally Mann and Jock Sturges but in both cases it's the children that make the image affecting. The photographs would have a completely different effect on the viewer if the models had been adults.

volatile
5th October 2009, 01:20 PM
You can't judge art by the reaction of a very small minority of mental ill people. Where does that stop? Also, when are people going to realize that pedophiles don't have magic eyeball rays that can reach through photographs.

The naked child in art is not sick. Nudity has symbolism, that symbolism is different with children. There's a huge difference between the works of say, Sally Mann and Jock Sturges but in both cases it's the children that make the image affecting. The photographs would have a completely different effect on the viewer if the models had been adults.

Yes, yes, yes.

I would add the word "necessarily" (after the word "not") to the sentence "The naked child in art is not sick" - I think one could make a good case that the Prince work is, by some readings, a "sick" image - but otherwise, yep, 100% nailed the crux of the issue.

bookitty
5th October 2009, 01:49 PM
Yes, yes, yes.

I would add the word "necessarily" (after the word "not") to the sentence "The naked child in art is not sick" - I think one could make a good case that the Prince work is, by some readings, a "sick" image - but otherwise, yep, 100% nailed the crux of the issue.

Good call, thanks.

Checkmite
5th October 2009, 06:11 PM
What do you mean? The art is in the decontextualisation - and in the way in which the decontectualisation was achieved.

Think of it this way: for viewers of the original image, in its original context, there is little that is controversial (for the intended audience). The image is presented as a titilating, sexualised, prurient. Though we can (if we were so inclined) critique the aesthetics of the original photo in the way you're suggesting, I don't think it would be of much use, and I for one would find it distasteful.

Then: Prince takes the image and, for starters, takes a picture of it. We're then immediately distanced from the original context. We're no longer active consumers of the original, lascivious image, but one step removed, looking at not the image itself, but how the image is presented. A subtle, but crucial distinction. Prince's piece is not simply a distasteful sexualised image of a child, but an image of how children are distastefully sexualised in images. That's the first artistic point of note.

The second is our complicity in the sexualisation. When the picture was a grubby little image of an anonymous child in a periodical to be leered over in private, this child as a flesh-and-blood human being was easily suppressed, easily objectified. One imagines that the target market of the original image gave little thought to the deep moral offensiveness of sexualising a child in that way, and even if they did they never had to confront it because the image was intended to be viewed (I flinch at using the word "enjoyed") in private. When Prince re-presents the image (as an image-in-an-image), and makes it public - the deep moral problems it brings into focus must be confronted. The very fact that the outrage about Prince's image taps into fears of paedophilia makes this as clear as it can be. "Look at this", Prince is saying. "Can we talk about this?". We can't sweep this under the rug.

That the image is of Brooke Shields, with all the cultural baggage and extra layers of meaning that brings to the discussion, and that it was her mother who profited from the sexualisation, and that such images are shocking in a particular way that is very much of the current moment, just add to the power of the piece.

It's disgusting. It's exploitative. And that's exactly why it's powerful. Why it's good art.

But, as I said - I fully understand and respect why Ms Shields doesn't like it, and would probably agree that her wishes should be very much taken into account when deciding if the work should be displayed. But that doesn't make the piece bad, at least not in the artistic sense.

Yeah - or, Prince digs the image and wanted to display it because he thinks people should enjoy sexualized pictures of naked children, but couldn't display the actual book itself because that would violate copyright.

I see you making a whole lot of statements justifying the image as "good art" that are based on nothing but nothing. Not only do I not see anything that actually suggests Prince's intention with the image is what you say it is, I don't see anything that gives us a reason to think Prince even might've had that intention.

In other words, I see you just making a bunch of stuff up.

tyr_13
5th October 2009, 06:50 PM
In this regard, as art, I'd say it is lazy. It's a picture of a picture and unless the artist did more with it, deliberating with the light settings or making it part of a larger hole, perhaps a picture of someone looking at the picture, then it's nothing.

I mean, the art professors keep shooting down my brother's project ideas because they are too 'obvious' (despite the other students not getting the message). Under this standard, this piece is as subtle as a hammer.

If one were to make the same point in a discussion, and use the existence of this photo as supporting evidence, then it would be doing the same job and still not be 'art'. Now I'm not saying this isn't art, but I can't find it good art personally.

In paragraph 1 you complain that the artist didn't do enough to make the message even less subtle.

In paragraph 2 you complain that it's about as subtle as a hammer.

I think the highlighted part shows how I was using a stardard that I personally disagree with, but is embraced by the art world, can also be critical of this piece. Besides, I didn't complain that adding elements or doing more with the photo should be done to make it less subtle. I complained that the artist didn't actually do much besides select it. I even went out of my way to show how this could be used in the artistic community, but not as art of the person who took a picture of a picture. The original picture could be argued to be art, but simply putting it in a collection, while valid as an argument about the sexualization of children, isn't art in and of itself. If I took a picture of someone else's picture, I don't think I could sell it as art of my own. If that were the case, I would head over to the museum right now and begin snapping away.


I think you don't like the picture, but I'm not sure your artistic criticism is totally unbiased here. And that speaks to its effectiveness as a piece - if you weren't unsettled, you would have caught a glaring logical flaw such as the one above.

I think you don't like criticism of art from the 'outside'. This is why you believed I presented some sort of logical flaw. Wait, are we supposed to care about random speculation on motives?

tyr_13
5th October 2009, 06:56 PM
What do you mean? The art is in the decontextualisation - and in the way in which the decontectualisation was achieved.

Think of it this way: for viewers of the original image, in its original context, there is little that is controversial (for the intended audience). The image is presented as a titilating, sexualised, prurient. Though we can (if we were so inclined) critique the aesthetics of the original photo in the way you're suggesting, I don't think it would be of much use, and I for one would find it distasteful.

Then: Prince takes the image and, for starters, takes a picture of it. We're then immediately distanced from the original context. We're no longer active consumers of the original, lascivious image, but one step removed, looking at not the image itself, but how the image is presented. A subtle, but crucial distinction. Prince's piece is not simply a distasteful sexualised image of a child, but an image of how children are distastefully sexualised in images. That's the first artistic point of note.

The second is our complicity in the sexualisation. When the picture was a grubby little image of an anonymous child in a periodical to be leered over in private, this child as a flesh-and-blood human being was easily suppressed, easily objectified. One imagines that the target market of the original image gave little thought to the deep moral offensiveness of sexualising a child in that way, and even if they did they never had to confront it because the image was intended to be viewed (I flinch at using the word "enjoyed") in private. When Prince re-presents the image (as an image-in-an-image), and makes it public - the deep moral problems it brings into focus must be confronted. The very fact that the outrage about Prince's image taps into fears of paedophilia makes this as clear as it can be. "Look at this", Prince is saying. "Can we talk about this?". We can't sweep this under the rug.

That the image is of Brooke Shields, with all the cultural baggage and extra layers of meaning that brings to the discussion, and that it was her mother who profited from the sexualisation, and that such images are shocking in a particular way that is very much of the current moment, just add to the power of the piece.

It's disgusting. It's exploitative. And that's exactly why it's powerful. Why it's good art.

But, as I said - I fully understand and respect why Ms Shields doesn't like it, and would probably agree that her wishes should be very much taken into account when deciding if the work should be displayed. But that doesn't make the piece bad, at least not in the artistic sense.

I disagree with much of what you've said here. It makes no difference that it's a picture of a picture because that layer of abstraction isn't distinctive enough for all that meaning.

However, you do bring up an important element that I neglected. The presentation. That is the actual art here. If the artist did choose to put it in it's own room, with a warning sign, then that is actually adding a useful layer and work. I'm half embarrassed that I didn't think of that in the first place.

volatile
6th October 2009, 02:05 AM
To answer both Tyr and Checkmite:

Is it possible that Prince is a paedophile who wants to distribute naked images of children to satisfy their sexual interests? Well, perhaps. But if he is, to paraphrase James Randi, he's doing it the hard way. To believe that, though, is to believe that there is no difference between a picture in a pornographic magazine and a piece work in an art gallery; to believe that there is no difference between looking at an image in private and looking at an image in public; and between satisfying one's sexual desires and the sexual desires of others and representing and discussing one's sexual desires and the sexual desires of others.

I'm not "making a whole lot of statements justifying the image as "good art" that are based on nothing but nothing", I'm actually trying to explain to you (and analyse) what the steps Prince took in re-presenting the image have actually done, and how that's both interesting and provocative. Of course it makes a difference that it's a picture of a picture. The original is participatory (those viewing the Playboy image would, one suspects, have had to have bought the magazine), Prince's is commentary.

Is what I'm saying empirical? No. So in that sense, sure I'm "making stuff up". But then so is anyone who ascribes malign motives to Prince. We cannot, of course, see inside his head. What we can do is analyse the meanings in the work and in the context in which it exists, we can can infer meaning from certain particular decisions made, and we can discuss sensibly and rationally what this work is, and how it makes us feel. That seems to me to be the most - and indeed only - sensible way of talking about and thinking about art. It is indubitable that this work has prompted rafts of discussion about the status of children in our culture, and the status of particular types of images of children in our culture, and, indeed, of child stars, and their parents. Isn't it? There are layers and layers of complex social commentary in the piece that simply wouldn't be there - aren't there, in fact - for anyone who would have looked at the original photo in its original context.

Look - understand the importance of context, first and foremost. Decontextualising the image, and adding distance (both artistic gestures) are precisely the things which have prompted these discussions about what is the appropriate status of sexualised images of children in our society. There's a polemic point to Prince's work, and it's had precisely the effect it was supposed to. Like all good art, this piece has distilled a particular set of emotions, feelings and concepts and presented them in a bounded, focussed way.

Adding a "warning sign" and this becomes not art but preaching. It shortcuts all thinking, all analysis; it absolves anyone who looks upon it from any sense that they may in some way be part of the problem.

Careyp74
6th October 2009, 07:25 AM
It doesn't work like that.

Why not? He took a picture of someone elses picture, and framed it. Instant art. What is the difference between that and a photo of the Mona Lisa? Especially after the Da Vinci Code boom?

GreyICE
6th October 2009, 07:36 AM
I think the highlighted part shows how I was using a stardard that I personally disagree with, but is embraced by the art world, can also be critical of this piece. Besides, I didn't complain that adding elements or doing more with the photo should be done to make it less subtle. I complained that the artist didn't actually do much besides select it. I even went out of my way to show how this could be used in the artistic community, but not as art of the person who took a picture of a picture. The original picture could be argued to be art, but simply putting it in a collection, while valid as an argument about the sexualization of children, isn't art in and of itself. If I took a picture of someone else's picture, I don't think I could sell it as art of my own. If that were the case, I would head over to the museum right now and begin snapping away. I think that despite the rationalizations, you've made a solid case that this can be considered art - even if it is art with an obvious message.

Collections may or may not be art. If I create a list of paintings and photos, and randomly select a bunch, I'm probably not doing art. If I use an image or a series of images from our culture to create a visual display that communicates to the viewer, without need for words or explanation, a specific message then it is art. One may as well say Monet did not do art because he just took a collection of things he saw and stuck them on a canvas.

It is the communication and dialogue opened with the people who experience the art that defines art, and if the collection is specifically creating a dialogue then it is art.

Whether that excuses the image is another issue, but saying 'it is not art' is just a cop-out. It's stepping aside from the debate on whether the image is justified in the context of art versus the public interest in preventing explotation of children and saying 'well that doesn't matter, because that isn't art.'

If your collection of photos of museum paintings were to open a dialogue that did not exist, then it would be art. I personally think there could be some very interesting art involved in taking photos of similar paintings that are displayed or lit in different manners to explore the effects of surroundings on the mood of a painting (or even just following the same painting to different galleries, where it is displayed in different ways), but it probably wouldn't appeal to me. Then again, I usually enjoy minimalism more than any other style of art, so YMMV.

Soapy Sam
6th October 2009, 11:31 AM
It took about 1/100th of a second to find the image online.

Where's the sense in removing it from a gallery?

JJM 777
6th October 2009, 12:07 PM
Dude, who wants to see a naked kid anyway? That is just freaking sick. It ain't art.
Since when is a photograph of a naked child art?
To me it seems that nudity in medieval (church) paintings was the pornography erotica art of that era. They didn't have cameras back then.

Well the Pope has explained it otherwise, saying that the painters of medieval churches (and all people ever visiting them?) were "in the state of paradise, like Adam and Eve, feeling no shame about nakedness [and never getting an erection under their abundant robes, as they studied their nude models who posed for the artworks]".

Sorry, I never learned naturist-nudistic thinking. Never even tried though.

Darth Rotor
6th October 2009, 04:15 PM
To answer both Tyr and Checkmite:

Is it possible that Prince is a paedophile who wants to distribute naked images of children to satisfy their sexual interests? Well, perhaps. But if he is, to paraphrase James Randi, he's doing it the hard way. .

Must resist the many crude jokes this brought to mind ....

Checkmite
6th October 2009, 05:23 PM
Look - understand the importance of context, first and foremost. Decontextualising the image, and adding distance (both artistic gestures) are precisely the things which have prompted these discussions about what is the appropriate status of sexualised images of children in our society. There's a polemic point to Prince's work, and it's had precisely the effect it was supposed to. Like all good art, this piece has distilled a particular set of emotions, feelings and concepts and presented them in a bounded, focussed way.

I understand what you mean, but the thing is, we're not discussing the appropriate status of sexualized images of children. We're discussing this single image, and whether displaying it is appropriate not because it is a "sexualized child", but because the subject of the photo does not want it to be displayed as it violates her privacy. Now we could have a discussion about why Shields feels the photo violates her privacy, but then we have to amend our speculation about Prince's motives - they would be not to raise questions about the appropriateness of sexualized pictures of children, but whether someone is entitled to feel that a sexualized nude photo of themselves as a child violates their privacy.

I, for one, consider both the question and the discussion to be secondary in importance to the real person whose privacy has been violated. Prince has a right to raise questions, but I disagree that his right trumps an individual's right to privacy.