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Art obscenity charges [May. 24th, 2008|08:55 pm]
Bob Bain
[Current Mood |exhaustedexhausted]

According to the Sydney Morning Herald

image borrowed from http://www.smh.com.au/news/arts/art-obscenity-charges/2008/05/23/1211183097197.html

Josephine Tovey, Les Kennedy and Dylan Welch
May 24, 2008

THE art world has denounced a "dark day in Australian culture" after police seized up to 21 photographs of naked child models and said they would lay charges over an exhibition by the renowned artist Bill Henson.

While the Prime Minister described the works as "revolting" and devoid of artistic merit, the art community and former models for the artist defended Henson, rejecting the accusation that his works are pornographic.

At 3pm yesterday police announced charges would be laid under both the NSW and Commonwealth Crimes acts for publishing an indecent article. The NSW action could involve the hung work and promotional material while the Commonwealth action involves internet catalogues. It was unclear whether Henson or people from the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery in Paddington, which published several of the controversial images on its website and on promotional material, would be charged.

Both Henson and the gallery owner Roslyn Oxley went to ground yesterday. Henson is understood to be distressed by the planned charges.

In dramatic scenes, police took his pictures in packing cases to a truck outside the gallery. The Rose Bay police commander, Superintendent Allan Sicard, told media there: "This morning police have attended the gallery and executed a search warrant and seized several items depicting a child under the age of 16 years of age in a sexual context."


The Herald understands that previous Henson works are also being examined by the police. Henson has been producing similar works for years without police intervention, and they have been lauded worldwide, as long ago as the 1995 Venice Biennale. But police raided the gallery on Thursday night following a complaint. It has emerged that complaint came from Hetty Johnston, of the child sexual assault advocacy group Bravehearts.

"I did make a complaint yesterday, absolutely," Ms Johnston said. "I asked them to prosecute, both the gallery and the photographer, but I'd like to see the parents as well looked in to. What parent in their right mind would allow their 12- or 13-year-old to strip off naked and display themselves all over the internet? That's not in the interests of the child. What's happening here is that the arts community have felt that they've been able to get away with this under the guise of art for a number of years, and I think this is the community drawing a line in the sand and saying, 'Enough's enough'."

According to the Sydney Morning Herald this evening..

May 24, 2008 - 7:35PM

The Law Society of NSW has backed embattled artist Bill Henson, who could face charges after police seized his latest gallery images which feature nude children. Society president Hugh Macken today said he could not see how a crime had been committed, and police prosecutors would have to argue the renowned Melbourne-based artist had intended to produce something other than art.

"What is relevant to the commission of a crime is the intention," Mr Macken told reporters in Sydney today.

"If the intention is to produce a work of art, and solely to produce a work of art, then I can't see how a crime has been committed."