Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Art Space News: Censorship? Pornography?... You Make the Call

A photograph from a controversial art collection owned by Sir Elton John has been seized by police in a child porn inquiry. Sir Elton's website declared that he owned the controversial piece and that it was on loan to a gallery. The photograph was seized by detectives the day before an exhibition of the musician's private collection was due to go on public display at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Northern England. The rest of his collection was displayed as planned. Ironically, the photograph was reported to police by the management of the Baltic.

The Baltic management has declined to comment since reporting the photograph-- aside from a spokeswoman who stated, "We are working alongside the police and are not in a position to comment further". A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "We attended the Baltic last Thursday at the invitation of management who were seeking advice about an item from an exhibition prior to it going on public display. This item is being assessed and Northumbria Police in consultation with the CPS are investigating the circumstances surrounding it".

The photograph, entitled Klara And Edda Belly-Dancing, depicts an image of two naked young girls and was taken by controversial American photographer Nan Goldin. The girls in the photo are laughing and playing-- one is on her back with her knees bent under her and the other is wrapped in fabric. Police and Crown Prosecution Service lawyers must decide whether the image owned by Sir Elton is pornography or art. It is now being examined by Northumbria Police to see if it breaches UK pornography legislation.

Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing, which was purchased by Sir Elton from the White Cube gallery in London in 1999, is one of 149 images that comprise Goldin's Thanksgiving Installation. The collection is said to document Goldin's life between 1973 and 1999. It has been widely published and has been exhibited throughout the world. In the past the photograph has been offered for sale at Sotheby's New York. Based on what I've read there have never been any objections to the photograph in the past-- even when it was exhibited in London.

Insiders have stated that the Northumbria Police are focusing on who may have been involved in the production of the image-- which would include Nan Goldin and anyone involved in the images development-- and anyone who has previously owned or displayed the photograph as a part of their investigation. Others have stated that the police are focusing on Goldin's past heroin addiction and the fact that her work has been involved in past child-porn inquiries.

What do you think about this case? Should all artists feel threatened by this censorship? Is this just a sign of our times? Is it justice? Should Sir Elton John, Nan Goldin, White Cube gallery, Sotheby's and any other individual or organization that has possessed Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing-- either the photograph itself or a reproduction-- be held responsible if it is deemed to be child pornography? Will this charge hold up if it is brought to court? Is Nan Goldin an artist or a criminal? Is Elton a collector or a criminal? Did the management of the Baltic stab the artworld in the back? Do fine art photographs like this one give pedophiles an excuse for having child pornography? Could this be a form of publicity stunt? Discuss.


Anonymous said...

This is clearly a publicity stunt by the gallery in order to gain the most publicity for the gallery what with Elton being a HUGE name.

They obviously do not think it as porn or else they would not have reported the image - if Elton is found to own child porn the gallery stands to lose business because they would be forced to end its Elton exhibition and disassociate itself from his name.

It reeks of publicity stunt madness and it is, in my opinion, rediculous - especially as the picture has been in existance for years and never been questioned before.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comment. But I also think it is wrong to photograph children nude. That is not art. That is exploitation!

Roger Loyd said...

Pornography in art.

In the buisness world there is an excisting legal pornography industry and there is obviously also a not legal pornography industry as well.

In the legal film industry there are laws regulating the rating of a film . A film needs to be rated
for instance PG (Parental Guidance)
or other depending on the nature of the film.

The majority of artists today are due to lack of intelligence, totally unable to inspire and stimulate the audience.

In lack of talent many mainstream artists is following the sheep flock of mainstream pornography producers trying to be artists.

This is so boringly ordinary today that its not even provoking.

If you want to provoke make porn free art so great that it stimulates the envy genes in other artists.

And above all start do devlop an intelligence have something to say.

The reason Roger Loyd besides his art is the most talked about artist in Norway, is that he has something to say.

The norwegian art institutions are trembling in fear of openly debating Roger Loyd.

Because Roger Loyd is more intelligent than the combined number of brains in the art world put together.

Roger Loyd has this terrible talent for revealing and documenting the Mafioso methods of the artinstitutions.

This problem of corruption in art institutions is particulary high in Norway.

Do you have similar problems in your country if so what kind of art related corruption problems.

The Norwegians have old traditions for mobrelated activity.

Our Viking ancestors settled down in the south of Italy and started to terrorise their new neighbours.

This is how the Vikings founded this great cultural institution that we today call the Italian Mafia.

Yes we have a tradition in our country for corruption. I dont know how we got the reputation of beeing one of the worlds most civilised countries in the world.

Organisations as Norwegian Artcritics and NBK are destroying this fine reputation.

The art institutions tactic in debating Roger Loyd is to run and hide cause they are simply no match
for him.

The Norwegian art Critics association has publically asked people not to even reflect on the words from Roger Loyd that is how dangerous Roger Loyds words are.

NBK and the Norwegian Art Critic Association has openly posted a Death Threat against Roger Loyd
for his devastating crushing critic
of the Norwegian art world.

We havent seen such sensorship since the second world war in our country.

People are asked openly actually not to think about the words of Roger Loyd, does this sound like a civilised country to you ?

The world is filled up with boring uninntelligent artists having below average IQ.

The resoult is boring art that needs to be spiced up artificially with porn or sex in order to be able to stimulate any part of a human brain at all.

The art world suffers from a total lack of any signs of intelligent life.

Porn art is not provoking its boringly mainstream so many are using this old trick to cover up their lack of talent.

Most so called art critics are suffering from the same mental disease as artists THE LACK OF INTELLIGENCE.

In major newspapers the art critics most of the time avoid writing about art that does not contain anything from large to medium to small to even just a hint
of porn or sex camuflaged as art.

Due to a lack of talent many art shows looks like dildo or amateur porn conventions.

Legal porn has its useful place in society. If you want legal professional porn the quality of porn is higher in the ordinary porn industry, than the porn you find in the art world.

So if you want porn go to your nearest porn shop the selection an quality is 100 times higher than what you find in the amateur art pornshows.

However legal porn is not suitable for all ages and in all places and locations.

The legal Pornindustry we also find within the so called artindustry. The difference on the artpornindustry is that here we find no regulations.

Its about time that an art show needs to be rated after same law as all films are regulated.

The art of filmproducing is also an artform. Why seperate the visual art regulations and laws that regulate the art of filmaking from the regualr visual arts.

This leads to the conclusion of the answer to your question? Is the art on the walls of Elton John legal porn or not? I havent seen it, nor can I be bothered to see it. It sounds like something that needs to be dealt with by professionals.
By professionals I mean the legal departments that deal with this sort of pherhaps crime. PS in Norway we have an art critic named
John Elton but I dont think he is qualified to decide whats legal or unlegal porn, since he has as most art critics a problem with even sperating porn from art.

People that cant even seperate porn from art, are obviously not qualified from seperating legal and unlegal porn, leave it to the professionals.

All the best

Roger Loyd

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first poster. But I disagree with number 2. Photographing the human body is not pornography. When my daughter was born I found her and her little naked body so beautiful. I photographed it often. Some are displayed in my home. If you cannot look at a naked body and NOT have sexual thoughts, then the image is not the problem. It is the pornographic mind of the viewer.

old hack said...

its only porn if its lil boys. elton john likes outties

Anonymous said...

I think the key to telling the difference in the matter is whether or not the piece is tasteful. Unlike the other young girl who was obviously used in the child pornography case of late, this one seems to have an artistic point of view.

However I do also agree with Anonymous #1 and 2 that this could solely be about publicity as they did not show the picture in question..

Its hard to tell theses days..

Anonymous said...

I dont agree. It seems like everything in the world is being restricted... art has depicted children nude and clothes for years... why now ? If the images we depict are being takes away the whole notion of being an artist and being allowed to express yourself.
Nan G is an amazing artist...and she doesnt just take photos of nude kids...she exposes the nitty gritty of real life.
Elton John is gay for gods sake... it is ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Children should definitely not be taken advantage of even for the sake of art. With that said I feel it is the fault of the agency that provided these images. How even were the ages known to the viewer-- I am not sure.


Anonymous said...

Oh-- And a ps to that -- are the images by Anne Geddes child pornography...


Balhatain said...

This just in:

Photographic Exhibition - update
Statement from Jane Jackson, curator of the Elton John Photographic Collection

"We have made arrangements to close the 'Thanksgiving' Installation at The Baltic with immediate effect. It was always intended that the Installation be exhibited as a whole, and not on a piecemeal basis, and our decision has been made with regard to the artistic integrity of the work and the artist."

Elton has had the entire collection pulled from the Baltic. I wonder how this story will unfold?

I enjoy the debate that is going on here. Thank you all for your opinions. :)

Anonymous said...

If people cant deal with nudity they should go seek professional help.I am sure the photo in question is in good taste.I have seen art depicting decapitation , people hanging bloody on a cross,and some paintings that frankly look like the artist drank a bunch of different colors of paint then projectile vomited them on a canvas!I really think people are way to sensitive to their beliefs over others.Is it worth dying over because this is the start of something bigger,Yes a grand work of art called do it my way or I will Kill YOU!Hey nhow bout them crazy Muslims? Know what I'm talkn bout? they will kill over a cartoon!! maybe the pen is mightier than the sword!

Anonymous said...

I sought out an image of this photograph to get an idea of what we were talking about . . . and personally, I did not find the photograph tasteful. It has the same quality of a quick snapshot or cheap pornographic photos that sometimes pop up on image searches. It could have been artistic, I'm sure, but it seemed to have fallen short of that goal to me. Opinions are opinions.

Anonymous said...

When I first read this story, there was a beautiful picture in my mind of two young girls laughing and dancing in soft orange light, waving sheer scarfs...and I thought yes, it sounds like publicity stunt and they had no sense in reporting it to the police. But after finding a picture of it, I can safely say I would have reported it myself. I would NEVER let anyone see my two year old daughter in such a position as the young girl on the floor. The photograph looks cheap, shabby and extremely distasteful. And I like trashy art, I enjoy adult pornography... but this is gross.