A photograph of a nude 6-year-old girl on the cover of a high-brow Australian art magazine Monday sparked an uproar after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called it disgusting, infuriating liberal art critics. This month's taxpayer-funded Art Monthly Australia magazine placed the photograph of the young dark-haired girl on the cover, sitting and with one nipple showing, to protest censorship of a recent photo exhibition featuring similarly naked children. The magazine cover. A little child cannot answer for themselves about whether they wish to be depicted in this way," Rudd added, as officials said they would review the magazine's funding. Magazine editor Maurice O'Riordan said he hoped the July edition of the monthly magazine would restore "dignity to the debate" about artistic depictions of children and anyone else.
Although surreptitious, watching or staring at others is an ancient topos in cultural history it is still fraught with danger and taboo especially where nudity is involved. Even today it is considered rude to stare. Since the Renaissance both church and state have punished visual art, using it as a scapegoat for their failure to control community sexuality. Consequently churches were forbidden to install paintings containing images of nudity.
IT'S official. The picture of the naked girl that sparked the Bill Henson fuss is not pornography. The sight of her on an invitation to the photographer's Sydney exhibition two weeks ago provoked shock and outrage, but the Classifications Board has now declared the picture "mild" and safe for many children. Yesterday the Herald also learned that the Director of Public Prosecutions was on the verge of advising NSW police that any prosecution of Henson was unlikely to succeed. In Canberra, Federal Police also announced that no charges would be laid over photographs in the Australian National Gallery.
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