Monday, 7 July 2008

Art, Children and Nudity

I guess I am not an artist. I am not much of a photographer and moreover don't photograph people naked (especially children) so I guess I wouldn't know what I am 'talking about' but read my views if you care about what by-standers have to say about this whole controversy about nude children being photographed that has been raging in Australia for the last two months. Today, the PM of Australia, criticised a Melbourne magazine's decision to depict a naked 6 year girl on its cover. As expected, the art community reacted strongly to his comments.

There are two opposing viewpoints. Artists feel that showing naked children in the 'proper context' is art. Children who have been photographed have appeared on TV programs as adults now to acknowledge that they never felt exploited, even though they prefer to keep their names hidden fearing a backlash of some sort. The moralist brigade feels that photographing nude children is not art, they were not 'mature' enough to rightly judge their decision to allow themselves to be photographed naked and displaying such images will encourage pedophiles.

Hailing from a traditional Christian family and having grown up in the conservative mould of Indian society, I have witnessed child exploitation in different forms. Coming to Australia was a big change as far as cultural values and beliefs were concerned. While there is a big gap between these two melting pots of culture, the core values with respect to children remain the same.
Neither India nor Australia encourage child exploitation and have very strict legislation to keep the same in check.

With the current raging controversy over the depiction of nude children as Art refuses to go away, I have a few questions that maybe if answered clearly and directly without hedging will settle this controversy once and more all.

We all agree that child exploitation especially pedophilia is a deplorable state of mind then in this case...
1. Can the supporters of this form of art guarantee that the images of naked children will not be viewed in a sexual nature by pedophiles? Can artists guarantee that their images will not spur pedophiles to commit more crimes ?

2. I have heard children as young as 13 saying they knew what was right for them.Cool. Ten years down the line, if you were to decide to become a school teacher, are you sure that your decision to pose naked will not stand between you and your teaching job (or any other job involving children.) ?

3. For parents and photographers who take photographs of children and then make them available for public view. Can you guarantee the safety and the future of your 'model'?

I guess if the answer of all three questions above is "No" then you would know where my heart and yours should lie too.

1 comment:

Gaurav said...

Society in general is very open now, then 5 or 10 years back. We are looking at the reflection of our decisions made long back, in the name of "openness".