A moral panic has developed over his photographs of naked adolescent children. It escalated with an opinion piece by Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald and became an issue that has dominated talkback radio ever since.
It appears police charges will be brought against Bill Henson and the gallery over publishing the “indecent” images.
The contentious images have been removed by police and voluntarily withdrawn by the gallery and the show will open soon with the remaining photographs.
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I’m not sure what to think. It’s quite clear Bill Henson is a renowned art photographer, not some shameless pornographer. I believe neither he nor the gallery intend to exploit children or that the images are indecent. Yet it’s an obviously provocative thing to do. The images are creepy. And anything that exploits or sexualises children is repellent.
Regardless, the work has succeeded in a way much of the best art does. It’s provoked an emotional reaction, got people talking and asked more questions than it answers.