Piers Akerman, I think, may fairly be accused of robbing children — or one child at least — of innocence by joining in the overblown raving that links a picture which is about as erotic as a cabbage, but much more beautiful, with every depravity that only a jaundiced old journalist could conjure up.
So intent is he on his crusade against Reds in The Bed that he seems to ignore the real child involved, in fact goes on grossly to smear her family:
What we have seen in recent weeks is an arrogance and aloofness from an arts community that cannot find within itself any sympathy for the views of the general community. No other community holds such an elitist view of its own worth.
As young Olympia may learn as she grows older and looks back upon her exploitation by a Left-wing clique, you can pick your nose and pick your friends, but you can’t pick your parents.
I am sure Piers is an excellent nose-picker, and I am glad he isn’t my dad, if we must descend to that level.
And Piers: go wank over this –
Pre-pubescent gumnuts in a provocative art-work by notorious pornographer May Gibbs…
To appropriate a comment on Marcellous’ blog, made so sweetly by an Irish expert on these matters, Piers et al seem determined to demonstrate that “the prob with some of youOzers, is that you are simply uneducated hicks.”
Mind you, when Piers raises the subject of Bindi Irwin he may have a point.
ABC News tonight carries a report Dad’s sexuality essay renews children-in-art concerns.
There is renewed controversy about the naked little girl depicted on the cover of Art Monthly because of an essay her father wrote about the sexuality of children.
Art critic Robert Nelson has been widely criticised for allowing a picture of his naked six-year-old daughter Olympia to be published on the magazine cover.
Olympia Nelson is now 11 and says she is proud of the photos.
An article in the Herald Sun has revealed the essay Mr Nelson wrote, which is featured on his wife’s website.
It reads: “The sensuality of children is integral to parental fondness.”
He wrote centuries of suppression have discouraged what he calls “the sensual delight of children and the enjoyment of their own bodies”.
“Undoubtedly a part of this taboo was the fear of the child’s latent sexuality and its potential for exciting inappropriate and sinful desire,” he wrote.
He also describes photographs taken by his wife of their two-year-old daughter: “In the suite of nude photographs, Olympia is seen with a dummy … The dummy, itself, is ambiguous; for while it vouches for the child’s infancy … it also evokes the perversity of pleasure-sucking, tellingly, then, the outward sign of innocence is potentially the most diabolically sexual.”
But Mr Nelson says those comments in the essay were not intended to be controversial. “That was written in a completely different discourse … this sort of stuff is very context dependent,” he said. “That argument was raised in the context concerned with Freudian theory.”
Moira Rayer, a barrister and vice president of Defence for Children International, says Mr Nelson appears to have forgotten his first responsibility is to his daughter’s best interests…
The essay in question is here:
In the suite of nude photographs, Olympia is seen with a dummy or pacifier. It is a necessary token of her age; otherwise, the spectator could assume that the model is a pre-pubescent Balthusian nymphet. Yet the dummy, itself, is ambiguous; for while it vouches for the child’s infancy (and by implication non-genital sexuality or confinement to an oral phase) it also evokes the perversity of pleasure-sucking, i.e. a sucking for non-nutritious purposes, apparently serving a hedonistic function unrelated to nourishment. Tellingly, then, the outward sign of innocence is potentially the most diabolically sexual.
The works challenge the taboos against the recognition of child sensuality; but they are not a form of erotica. The photographs are stylistically chaste and unromanticized. They document the display in its communicative integrity and invite the instantaneous rush of fondness for the adult-like poses in a tiny child. In the process, however, they do acknowledge that the child has access rights to an erotic language. If the photographs were conceived as erotica, this language would be stylistically induced by the photographer and imposed upon the model. The confronting aspect of this suite is that the sensual language proceeds from the child alone.
I have emphasised part of the 2000 essay in the extract above, the concluding paragraphs, which the report fails to mention. I freely admit that I find art criticism, particularly that which accesses pomo or post-Freudian theory, virtually unreadable, in the main, so my expertise is limited. I would rather contemplate the art work itself. Naive I admit I may be, but I still find the contested image distinctly innocuous, and suspect much of what Nelson says above — and similar stuff on the Papapetrou site by critics whose names are familiar to me from other reading since the 1980s — to be somewhat in the realm of wankery or wishful thinking… But I am no expert.