Bill Henson, visual shock and the democratisation of art. The disjunction between “the arts community” and publics who aren’t necessarily normally aware of its norms and practices is at the centre of all this. I didn’t know, for instance, that all manner of cultural and media industries folk seek permission regularly to utilise schools for casting, which has been the defence of Henson’s actions offered. — Larvatus Prodeo

Henson: out of touch artist or evildoer? If adolescence is the subject of your work and you are an artist who does not immediately assume evil lurks behind every door, you might think a school was a good place to look for models. Henson was probably aware that his work was controversial -but perhaps he was not as in tune with public sentiment on photographing children as he should have been, blinded by his spotlight in the art world? — Eleri Harris, Team Crikey

Notes on the Bill Henson case. I can’t help feeling that Marr is blind to the depth of feeling surrounding this case in the general public. Our bodies and our sexuality is precious, and we human beings are vulnerable. It is a truism to say that the adolescent is especially vulnerable. We perhaps have freedoms to choose what we see, but we also ought to exercise our right to restraint. And we ought to exercise that right from time to time as a community: it just won’t do to keep repeating individualist mantras here. Sometimes we ought to feel free as a community to say that our commonly-held standards have been transgressed – there is no need to feel anti-intellectual or philistine about that. Members of the community have no greater right to transgress our commonly agreed norms just because they claim to do so as high-brow and sophisticated artists than do pornographers. — The Blogging Parson

ABC News sinks to new the usual lows. As far as Kevin and Malcolm are concerned, pollies will be pollies and they will go in search of headlines. But for the ABC News to report the story in such a way as to leave out the most central fact – that Henson goes to great lengths to obtain what consent can be got – for the ABC News to cover the story in such a way that someone watching the story would most likely associate Henson with paedophilia? It’s an outrage. The usual outrage.– Nicholas Gruen, Club Troppo

 

Peter Fray

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