Last week a famous Australian artist suffered a heavy blow in his homeland. Bill Henson’s new exhibition was shut down by police, backed by political announcements as to the despicable nature of his work that uses nude photos of adolescents.
So we have a full-blown moral panic happening. A moral panic in which nudity is equated with sex and pedophilia.
If you have a look at Henson’s work you’ll see that his art is not only transcendental, beautiful and nothing to do with sex, it is also very close to the Renaissance idea of art and that of medieval Chritian art! How ironic!!
If this is sexually exciting we obviously need to demolish churches, Biblical and other reference books, art curricula and lots of other things, which is ludicrous. It is also evident that it’s not art that will get the attention of pedophiles and that pedophiles will continue just the same without art. If Henson’s work is titillating then a Myers children’s clothing catalogue is positively pornographic. And this is the territory to which moral panic leads.
And then we haven’t even discussed Henson’s art, which may be a bit provocative, but really it’s about innocence, transcendence, awareness and being human.
Some now call for the banning of nude babies on beaches, soon we’ll have sculptures covered up in the city. This is religious moral hysteria!!
I guess our new Labor prime minister is now showing his true colours and what those of us not represented by either of the major parties were so afraid of… his religious and moral convictions and how these will not remain separate from politics.
We should recall separation of church and state, remember our liberal traditions, recall freedom of thought and expresssion and also remember to keep our logic in check, lest it becomes harnessed by our own fears that only reflect back who we are, not what others’ lives are about…