Bill Henson, photographer

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Date: 2008

Region: Australia

Subject: Nudity

Medium: Photography


Henson2.jpg

Artist: Bill Henson (b. 1955)

Confronting Bodies: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Australian Government

Dates of Action: May 26, 2008 to Present

Location: Sydney, Australia

Description of Artwork: A series of 20 photographs depicting pubescent youths in various poses, situations and states of dress.

The Incident: A police squad raided the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery and stripped the space of all of Mr. Henson's photographs, claiming they were child pornography.

Results of Incident: Mr. Henson was threatened with charges of obscenity and child pornography under the Crime Act. The Albury gallery also removed his photographs from exhibit, due to the controversy. Several supporters of the artist insist the work speaks more to the transition from child to adult than to any titillating interests.

In response to the claims that Bill Henson's work exhibited at the Creative Australia 2020 Summit is obscene, artist Victoria Larielle exhibited her own series of nude photographs. The subjects were eleven year-old boys when the photos were taken. The artist asserts that her exhibit is an effort to support Bill Henson and to explore the vulnerability and fragility of human-kind. The series is entitled I am not a photographer nor a pedophile but an artist.

As of June 6, 2008, Australian authorities declined to formally charge Mr. Henson with any crime. The artist described the experience as "profoundly humbling," adding: "It is reassuring to see existing laws, having been rigorously tested, still provide a framework in which debate and expression of ideas can occur."

Source: The Age, Herald Sun and BBC News