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Naked child cover not protest - editor [Jul. 8th, 2008|09:14 pm]
Bob Bain
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According to news.com.au

Naked child cover not protest - editor

By Simon Jenkins and Melissa Jenkins July 08, 2008 06:12pm

THE editor of an art magazine that published a photograph of a naked six-year-old girl on its front cover says it was not a protest against the censorship of artist Bill Henson.

Police seized a number of Henson's works, including a photograph of a naked 13-year-old girl, from a Sydney gallery in May and considered laying charges, sparking community debate about the depiction of children in art.

In the latest incident, the magazine Art Monthly Australia published the 2003 image of Melbourne girl Olympia Nelson on its July cover, with two similar shots inside.

"I never actually said that this is a protest against the censorship, or threatened censorship, of Bill Henson's images," editor Maurice O'Riordan said to Capital Radio Network.

"To say that this image is a protest image – it's kind of a media beat-up."

Mr O'Riordan said the article accompanying the photographs was a critique of Henson's work and was in no way pro-Henson.

The media coverage amounted to hyped-up debate that was feeding off hysteria, he said.

Olympia's mother Polixeni Papapetrou took the photograph and both parents hoped the public would recognise the image was not pornographic, Mr O'Riordan said.

"They're hoping that people can bring some sort of understanding of the complexity around this image and be able to differentiate between an image which is unmistakably child pornography, and an image which happens to have a naked six-year-old in it," he said.

"Why should people equate nudity with sexuality, especially in a six-year-old?

"What does that say about the viewing public or even your very good self?" he asked the interviewer.

Olympia, now 11, said yesterday she didn't believe the photo amounted to abuse and was "really offended" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's comment that he "can't stand" the image.

But in response, the Prime Minister said his attitude on the issue had not changed at all.

"The protection of children, and the innocence of children, is of fundamental importance," he said.

Mr Rudd queried how people could expect that a six-year-old girl could have made her own independent decision on the matter in the first place.

"If people want to make a political point in opposition to me, I don't think it's right they use underage children to make that point," he said.

"We have a view about what constitutes a responsible time for people to take decisions for themselves.

"Children, I don't think, fit within that category."

I believe this constitutes "fair use" in the interests of debate. The magazine had a very limited distribution.