Henson Hysteria

Posted on October 6, 2008. Filed under: Art |

The flurry the media and the chattering society has wound itself into over the latest allegations that artist Bill Henson had been given free roam of a Melbourne Primary School is just another chance for conservative columnists to revive the debate about art versus pornography.

All kinds of people and organisations, including media and politicians will often be allowed on school grounds, usually with the appropriate consent of teachers and ideally parents. The only necessary concern is due consent, and while this could have been obtained before he entered the school yard, it did occur. There would have been no photographs taken without parental consent as David Marr notes:<;

Had there not been the outrage over Henson’s photograph of the naked 15 year old which landed him in the flames of columnists, the “disgusted” Prime Minister and parents around Australia, the previous of “scouring a schoolyard” would have never come to light and indeed would not generate such a hysterical response from everyone from politicians to hairdressers.

The savage attacks Henson has been subject to threaten to trivialise and debase 35 years of honest, poignent and considered work. That the prime minister feels he is equipped to way in on an issue that really in no way concerns him or his experience with such rash comments, is further indication of the level of debate and appreciation for art and freedom of expression in Australia.

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