Bill Hensen: Not Evil

Bill Henson has managed to make the lead story on news services again. We haven’t been told details that would make it easier to determine if what he, or the principal, did was wrong though.

What we know is that the principal of the West Coburg Primary School allowed Bill Henson him to wander the school looking for child models for some piece he was working on.

That is all I believe is in the public record.

Some people believe that its likely he would be wandering the school with a camera taking photos of the students. I would think that is highly unlikely, I would doubt that Bill Henson would believe that such behaviour would be acceptable. Believing that the school principal would be happy with that would be it is too much of a stretch for me.

What I feel is far more likely is:

* Bill Henson approached the principal and asked if he could have a look around the school for a model for an upcoming project. Chances are good that during that discussion with the principal he gave significant details of the nature of the project.

* The principal should have asked for a donation to a project the school was having. This would be fair because of the time he would consume. Otherwise the time consumed would be offset by the publicity from having a student be a model.

* Bill then would have been escorted around the school. Why would he have been escorted? How else would he get contact information to ask the parents for permission to use the student in the project?

If the above is accurate it would be less of an invasion of privacy than the images used during the news tonight. Where in the background many students could be seen, did they ask the parents for those shots?

I still don’t think Bill Henson has done a single thing wrong, he’s an artist, if you find his work arousing please speak to a professional. Also you may want to avoid watching TV or reading and magazines, they contain more erotic pictures of children than Bill Henson’s work.

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14 responses to “Bill Hensen: Not Evil

  1. he’s a sicko

  2. Nice opinion, have you ever read more than a headline?

    His work is artistic, it isn’t sexualizing children. Pumpkin Patch photographers should have more to fear than Bill Hensen.

  3. Yes I have read more than the headlines, and thefact remains he is taking photos of underaged children. Its wrong on so many levels

  4. We accept that there are acceptable reasons for taking photos of children. No one has issue with parents taking photos of their children, even in the nude. Clearly the intent of the photo is important.

    Do you have any evidence that what he was trying to do was produce porn? I haven’t heard any one show how it was used as porn.

  5. Its a very long bow to compare parents taking photos of their kids to a guy using naked kids as models and displaying them in public

  6. The example shows that merely taking photos of naked children isn’t of it self “wrong on so many levels”.

    I presume your happy with parents taking photos of children in the bath or at the beach, which of the following are also aceptable:
    Naked photo of child in medical text book.
    Documentary of African village with young children wandering around town naked.
    That guy who makes all those calendars of naked babies dressed up as cherubs and faeries.

    Most would consider the last one to be art, but I’d also hope that select clips from documentaries arranged as porn would be considered to be illegal.

    It’s hard to mathematicall/scientifically define porn, wouldn’t it be better to look at the intent of the person involved? Pornography laws typically have issue with what is depicted (ie, getting a young looking 18 year old to make porn while on camera refering to her as a 14 year old is illegal), I strongly believe that porn laws should only apply to things intended to be porn or used as such.

  7. Correct, but how do you identify intent? Given the shady characters involved in this type of filth, how easy would it be for them to claim photographs as ‘art’? Who defines where art finishes and porn begins?

    Think about the consequences of getting it wrong? I’d rather deny a (very) small minority access to ‘art’ than contribute to sickos looking at innocent kids.

    And I’m glad the majority of aussies agree with me

  8. ‘Shady Characters’, does that describe someone who displays his work in big name galleries?
    Ok say I get you to agree with me that what BH does is fine, that might make it easier for those we really do agree on shouldn’t be abusing children.

    As far as I can see the best and most equitable method is:
    * Taking photos of legal actions should be legal.
    * Taking photos of illegal actions should be illegal.
    * Using photos of people who aren’t of age for sexual purposes (porn) should be illegal.

    Its just like the kids getting serious jail time for taking photos on their phones of them having sex with their girl friends. It doesn’t matter that they are both 15, but it counts as producing kiddie porn, even if they have no intention of distributing it.
    We all know that taking such photos is a stupid idea, but it being illegal sounds stupid to me.

    It’s very sad that the majority of aussies would agree with you, it shows how little they bother to think for them selves. Our laws on these things are so outdated, we need to be a lot more focused on the distribution. Thats the most significant aspect these days.

  9. No I wouldn’t agree that what BH does is fine. How do we know his intentions? Just because he claims it as art? Just because it gets displayed in a gallery?

    I wouldn’t take the risk with my daughter – I’m amazed at those that do

  10. And the fact I agree with the majority of aussies does not mean I cannot think for myself, nor that I cannot appreciate art. It is about risk, trust, and an appropriate spot to draw the line

  11. How do you suggest the law should differentiate between parents taking photos of their children running through the water rose naked and BH taking photos of underage models naked?

    Could you also kindly stop twisting what I am saying. You agreeing with me on BH’s work being fine wasn’t the point of the sentence; the point was that letting him do his work would cause some issues on the prosecution of other cases that would fall on the other side of the (fuzzy) line. I was agreeing with you on one of the consequences. I think our fundamental disagreement comes down to how much personal liberty we are prepared to loose in protecting the liberty of others.
    I have no idea why you felt the need to defend you ability to appreciate art, it was never under attack.

  12. Would you agree allowing BH and similar artists to take photos of naked kids for ‘artistic’ purposes makes it easier for those wanting to photograph or ‘consume’ such photos as ‘porn’ disguised as art? How can we truely know anyone’s (BH incuded) intentions?

    My point is, I see this type of artistic freedom (photographing naked kids for art) at the ‘luxury’ end of our personal liberties, and the need to protect children and yound teenagers up the fundamental/non negotiable end of this personal liberties scale.

    Yes there may be situations or legitimate artists who’s ‘artistic’ license is curtailed, but so be it. It seems a small price to pay

  13. Its getting annoying repeating my self. Particularly when its about a point that we agree on. (That my stance on photographing legal acts should be legal would make it harder to convict some people with poor intentions)

    Also I’m pretty sure that my feelings are in line with current laws, BH wasn’t charged with anything and the school principal was found to have acted in an acceptable manner. I might have missed a news story, but I don’t think so.

  14. I think the reason this whole issue became a news item is because the general feeling in society is that what BH did *should* be made illegal. How that could be defined in legal terms is up to polititians and lawyers but the general consensis is he crosses a line with that type of work.

    Do you think it’s worth risking potential child abuse and fueling sick fantasies in the name of ‘art’?

    (sure – you can raise the case of parents taking photos of their kids and Anne Geddes photos, and I can if necessary elaborate on why they are different and accepted in society if you wish)

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