Ive been thinking…. Bill Henson treated unfairly?

Unusual I know but maybe the artist Bill Henson has been dealt a dud hand for his activities. No I haven’t gone barking mad, just remembering something current which is still available from many newsagents which (from memory) contain pictures of naked kids.


I was remembering from my teenage years of trying to catch a look at anything “dirty” (typical testosterone fuelled grot that I was) the naturalist magazines I sometimes snuck a look at.

Again from memory they contained many shots of families and kids, most having fun in the sun, but still in the wake of the outcry over hensons’ art was it wrong to single him out?

Here’s a link to an Australian produced nudist magazine, which appears to have photos of underage boys and girls. I find the pictures to be unerotic, non-sexual and fairly tame (I’m at work so I’m not clicking past the first page picture scroll). The webpage points out directly that the magazine is classified as “unrestricted”, so freely available.

http://www.naturist.net.au/ (do I need to say NSFW)

The context of these photos makes them unerotic, but a pervy could easily buy this magazine over the counter of any newsagent that carries it in Australia.

Given Hensons much more public and restricted audience (in galleries, collections etc) was the outcry a little unfair? Or should the nudist mags be re-appraised for their content?

I’m not defending Henson, I think his works are sexualised for that little fission of the forbidden his audience gets, but was it unfair to decry him for what is freely available in a magazine?

Would like to know what people think on this one, as I haven’t really sorted it out in my own mind.

Posted in Temp. 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Ive been thinking…. Bill Henson treated unfairly?”

  1. minicapt Says:

    No, he made the photos, he gets the opprobrium.


  2. Ash Says:

    I think he deserves all the flack he gets.

    Photos in a naturalist setting are not meant to be sexual, and the photos are taken in such a way as to not be sexual in the slightest, and the children are not exploited in that situation. Everyone’s naked, there’s not just one person singled out, and not just one singled out to be photographed.

    The photos Henson took, and I’ve seen them, were lit in such a way as to be sexual, dark and somewhat mysterious. The girl (and all other under 18 nude models) are intended to be singled out and photographed naked, and not as part of a larger group.

    I don’t completely agree that it’s pornography, although I can completely understand that argument, but I do agree that Hensen exploited the girl, and any other under 18 model he’s had pose unclothed.

  3. minicapt Says:

    He’s run into a little problem that the art industry has these days, namely there are no artistic standards akin to the old style. The public can now call things crap in the old fashioned style and it will now hit Bill-boy where it hurts.


  4. nilk Says:

    Henson has not been treated unfairly.

    I’ve seen his photos, and while I can say that yes, they’re arty and well taken, the bottom line is that he got pubescent teenagers to take their clothes off so he could take pictures of them.

    In anyone else that would be considered as grooming behaviour leading up to paedophilic behaviour.

    He’s getting off because it’s “Art” and therefore sacrosanct.

    As for that wonderful naturist magazine… I don’t see any photos of old, fat and not real attractive people there, does anyone else?

    I know men who’ve gone to nudist beaches becuase they get a kick out of running around naked, and it also gives them a chance to perve on kids and take photos.

    Some of the people I know who go to nudist places are not the sort you’d shake hands with, and I don’t believe that any magazine that caters to it should be readily available.

    /mini-rant off.

    ps.Minicapt, thanks for the fun links, too. Sorry for taking so long to say so.

  5. thefrollickingmole Says:

    That was my point in a nutshell, should that magazine and others like it be allowed as “unclassified”. ie: freely available.
    I find Hensons stuff creepy and exploitive. The only bit of a “raw deal” I see for him is his stuff falls under the same catagory as this magazine.
    And to tell the truth I havent gone past the front page of that webpage as Im at work for another few days. But the piccies on the scrolling bar at the bottom had a few that looked quite young.
    “Some of the people I know who go to nudist places are not the sort you’d shake hands with…” Bwahahahaha!!! I can imagine why on a couple of levels!!!
    Ash: I see where you are coming from, but one of the defences used by Hensons mob was that his pictures werent sexual either (bullshit in my opinion). So it sort of comes back to the intentions of whos accessing it rather than the intentions of the photographer.

    Minicapt: He deserves the odium hes getting, but I see a commecialy available magazine as more likely to be found and “used” by a pervert.

    It all just comes down to the basic fact that if its under 18 and naked, and not your own kid, you shouldnt be photographing it.

  6. bingbing Says:

    Mole. Henson’s pics aren’t the kind of hardcore porn the Internet is most useful for, no. And pics of a naked hippie family could hardly turn anyone on. But at risk of getting thrown in jail, I googled ‘Bill Henson’ a few days back. One of them is of a 12/13 year old girl lying naked on a bed, camera directly above her. Another contains a naked girl bent over with a naked boy standing directly behind her.


  7. bingbing Says:

    That said, I don’t think Henson’s a ped, or even that he intended the pics to be interpreted as they have been.

    Destroy the photos and fine Henson.

  8. Angus Dei Says:

    Mole said: “It all just comes down to the basic fact that if its under 18 and naked, and not your own kid, you shouldnt be photographing it.”

    Perfect. I’d only add that underage models are being exploited by their parents, the photographer, or both. Once a person reaches the socially agreed upon age of 18, he or she is legally allowed to make his or her own decisions and choose to have a modeling career… or not. At that point, it’s not exploitation because the models are being paid as adults, not prostituted out – for lack of a better term – by their parents and/or the photographer. And popular models can make a lot of money. More power to ’em at that point.

  9. bingbing Says:

    Legal age is 16 in OZ. Thirteen in Korea.

    Can o’ worms.

  10. yojimbo Says:

    You can vote and sign contracts at the age of thirteen!

  11. kaez Says:

    Legal age for majority in Australia is 18, bingbing.

    You cannot be bound by a contract you sign if you are a minor, it’s the same with ‘permission’.

    And I believe in law there is no ‘permission’ if the act (whatever it is) is illegal.

  12. Mick Says:

    In child pornography trials they usually go for ‘posed’ secretly filmed’ or in relation to pssession, the context, so a nudist mag is evidence, if its next to something else. On the other hand, stuff lega in Oz, is child pornogrphyin London, I assume that David Hamilton’s stuff doesn’t warrant a knock on the door in oz,.
    In relation to posed, here’s no defence, unless one is married, and conset can be established,

    Basically cops are giving up. A cop i London,what’s he gonna think, hell say they’ve legalized t, o no point reporting X or Y. And the classification bard is probably G’ing lots of child porn by UK standards etc.

    In the middle of al that, apedophile has to work very hard to hae more tan one in a thusand chance of gettin nicked

    Thannks to people like Bill Henson

  13. Gregory Carlin Says:

    “And I believe in law there is no ‘permission’ if the act (whatever it is) is illegal.”

    you can sue for involuntary pornography anywhere, I doubt he’ll bank in Lombard Street.

    Not unless they have one of those in Cambodia or Japan.

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