Eli Langer

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Date:1967 - Present

Region: North America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality, Nudity

Medium: Painting

Confronting Bodies: Canadian Government

Dates of Action: 1993

Location: Toronto

Description of Artwork: Langer's show at the Mercer Union gallery, Toronto, included 5 paintings and 35 drawings which "portray[ed] children and adults in sexual behavior, including sodomy, fellatio and masturbation." (No models were used for production).

The Incident: Canada's new "Child Pornography and Corrupting Morals Amendment" was passed in June 1993. "The new law makes it a crime to own, make, exhibit or sell anything that depicts a sexual act by anyone under 18. If convicted, defendants face up to 10 years in prison and fines. Exemptions exist for works with artistic merit or an educational, scientific or medical purpose. But the law puts the burden of proof on the accused." Following the lukewarm review by Kate Taylor, critic for The Globe and Mail, Langer's work was seized and charges pressed on Dec. 16, 1993, by the police Morality Squad under the authority of John Ferguson, who stated: "It is our feeling that the exhibit is simply not art and falls under the category of child pornography." "Canada's Charter guarantees belief, opinion and expression but allows imposition of 'reasonable limits' to guarantee other rights. In this delicate balance freedom of expression is often restricted."

Results of Incident: Langer appeared in court January 17, 1994.

Source: New York Times Article