This is it- this is the image from a postcard invitation to the opening of a Bill Henson exhibition opening that Hetty Johnson wants to use to put Henson and the Oxley9 gallery owners in jail.
image: Bill Henson, Untitled 2008
This is the one of a very few that Kevin Rudd looked at for 20 seconds in the middle of an on-air interview (he has yet to see an entire Henson exhibition), at which point KRudd’s knees jerked hard enough to break the table as he branded Henson’s photos “revolting,” a view he has since shamelessly and thoughtlessly reiterated.
Rudd is certainly entitled to his opinion as a private citizen but has conflated that opinion with government policy as PM. The knock-on result is that self-styled child protection advocates are now confident that they have free rein to go after any Henson work displayed anywhere, at will. This creates a chilling effect, where publishers feel obligated to self-censor lest they be the next witch to be hunted.
The Age published the image last week along with this story but have since removed it from their site after a complaint to ACMA, who have referred the material to the official censor, the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The Age story once looked like this. The ABC have published the image, albeit censored, with a black bar across the model’s breasts and her face pixellated. Other news ops have failed to publish the image altogether.
Museums across Australia are falling all over themselves to remove Henson works from display, some going to the point of calling police on themselves. Invariably, police have instructed some to remove works from display but have not confiscated them nor have obtained warrants to do so. Many are now languishing in dusty storage, well away from the prying eyes of those who might (shock, horror) discuss them- but more importantly, away from the prying eyes of overzealous child protection advocates.
Self-censorship, under a climate of fear and witch hunting, encouraged by the government, is the very worst kind.
NSW Police have handed their case to the DPP. Nicholas Cowdery will now decide whether to lay charges against Henson, the Oxley9 Gallery and presumably The Age, if not yours truly.