Art & Design

Feb 18, 2010

Naked Aboriginal kids on postcards: the line between art and exploitation?

You can buy postcards featuring naked Aboriginal kids in newsagencies and Australia Post shops across the country. Why aren't these pictures treated with the same outrage as Bill Henson's photos of naked teens?

Bob Gosford — Editor of The Northern Myth

Bob Gosford

Editor of The Northern Myth

Yesterday I walked through the Alice Springs Mall, stopped at a few tourist and souvenir shops and bought a few postcards. One group of postcards that caught my eye was those with pictures of naked or semi-naked Aboriginal children. You can buy these cards in many outlets in the Alice and across the country -- souvenir shops, backpacker hostels, newsagents, Australia Post, hotels. And if you are too slack to walk down the road, you can get them on the net -- have a look for yourself here, here and here. The release by NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos of his Government’s Report of the Child Pornography Working Party last month raised questions about what is child pornography in the strict sense. The postcards are a prime example.


Sunbakers. Photo by Alastair McNaughton

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108 thoughts on “Naked Aboriginal kids on postcards: the line between art and exploitation?

  1. Mark Hurd

    IANALB my understanding of the law is that if these are considered child p-rn of any sort all of us who have downloaded these pictures, and that includes the Sole email Subscribers, are guilty of p-rnography.

  2. Ian Bryant

    Didn’t know p-rnography was a crime Mark.

  3. Stevo the Working Twistie

    If you see anything s-xual or p-rnographic in these images, then I pity you and suggest you seek help. You have a dirty, poisoned mind. If you believe the rest of us should have restrictions placed on what we can see based on the fact that you get some weird titillation from viewing it yourself, then you are no better than the imams who insist women wear the burqa because otherwise men won’t be able to control themselves. And while we’re on the subject of damaging children, how healthy do you think the next generations will be if they are brought up to believe that any sight of a naked person is dirty and deviant?

  4. Ms Naughty

    Hello, moral panic. You can’t be seriously saying the photos in this post are equivalent to child porn? Are we going to be so paranoid about pedophilia now that simple depictions of nudity will have people up in arms? Apparently: according to that CETS listing, mere nudity is enough to qualify a photo as child porn. That’s just crazy.

    It’s also ridiculous that cartoons are considered to be CEM as well.

  5. micae

    This is a good article. The double standards whereby such postcards are socially acceptable if the subjects are indigenous children but unacceptable if they are mainstream children usually remain invisible to us.
    A few years ago a teacher gave me the following insight – ‘racism is not necessarily what you do but also what you do not do, or see.’
    Thank you for your article placing this topic into our view and consciousness. Also for making us conscious of a further example of the double standards in our society, where once again, the innocent and undefended amongst us are abused.

  6. gerard

    It is high time that with the photographs of naked children we should seriously think of asking Hetty Johnson to also boycot the blatant display of bananas at Big W.

    Worse, yesterday I noticed an elderly gentleman, obviously having underage fantasies, while eating an erect banana in full sight of the public in The Domain.

    What about aubergines, zucchinis.? Be aware, but not erect.

  7. Ms Naughty

    Anne Geddes takes photos of nude white children and makes her living that way. Shall we arrest her as well?

  8. micae

    Anne Geddes subjects are taken with the informed advice of their parents. The parents of the subjects of the indigenous children postcards are – statistically speaking – uneducated, and – statistically speaking – very poor.
    To compare the two as equal cases is rather cruel, in my view.

  9. Mark Hurd

    I agree that this should not be considered p-rn, but if it is we need to delete the email and our browser cache immediately to provide a defence:

  10. CliffG

    I’m most decidedly not a paedophile! But doesn’t anyone else think these images are beautiful? Whatever happened to the idea that the nude body is beautiful? And surely naked children can be an expression of joy and beauty and energy and a world that isn’t constantly being sexualised. Can’t they be seen beyond sex?
    Sometimes the sickness is in the eye of the beholder, or the eye of those who want to see everything as sexual or risky. I can see why many people would buy these cards and may even regard them as a photographic expression of the innocence of a native people whose world has been destroyed by invasion. Here they are in their element natural and free. If my wife and I happened on these children swimming and enjoying themselves with our cameras we would most likely photograph them, too.
    But watch me get shot down in flames by the sexualisers!

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