Artist: Betsy Schneider
Confronting Bodies: Spitz Gallery
Dates of Action: March, 2004
Location: London, England
Description of Artwork: Schneider's photographs are separated into three blocks. One consists of photographs of her daughter, nude, at nine months old, another of her daughter at two years old and the last of her daughter at five. The child holds various poses in the photographs. The piece is meant to show time, change and growth. The photos of her daughter at five caused the most controversy.
The Incident: Schneider's piece exhibited in the Spitz Gallery in Spitalfield's Market, London, during a festival celebrating female writers. The London tabloid, The Sun, published a scandalized article claiming the work was child pornography. Gallery owners became cautious of violating the law and notified Scotland Yard after visitors complained about the images, and one visitor allegedly took photographs of Schneider's piece. A similar case emerged in 2001, when London police threatened to seize photos of photographer Tierney Gearon's children in the nude. In 2001 former culture minister Chris Smith decided that the officers crossed a mark between probity and censorship, and spoke in support of the images.
Results of Incident: The gallery blackened its windows, covered Schneider's work, and closed for one afternoon. The next day it reopened with three other artist's work, but removed Schneider's. Police suggested that they lacked the expertise to judge whether or not the piece was obscene. They referred the issue to the Metropolitan Police obscene publications unit.
Source: The Guardian