Bill Henson show closed until further notice

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Friday 23 May 2008
Sarah Eades

The Sydney Morning Herald reports today, that the opening of the new Bill Henson exhibition at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery was "dramatically cancelled" by police after complaints about some of the images. Unfortunately the website also seems to be 'closed for business' this morning. But apparently the images are of young children and deemed inappropriate.

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Photographer Bill Henson. Photo: Adam Hollingworth

It brings to mind a time at the Auckland Art Gallery when we received similar but not as strong criticism about the exhibition Mixed Up Childhood in 2005. Photographs by some of these artists also contained children in various poses and we received criticism for the nature of them. At the time i remember wondering about the difference in peoples reaction to painting and photography. If some of the works had been traditional oil paintings would they have received such a reaction or are photographs seen as more voyeuristic. People rarely complain about nudes in paintings!

It also brings to mind the old chestnut of how far you go when censoring art. A large Gilbert and George exhibition containing images of faeces, bombs, blood and death could be equally disturbing. Should art not be allowed to stand out there for criticism. Do people have to choice what they decide to go and see, when to step inside the walls of a gallery?

These are of course, purely my personal point of view. However, i'd love any feedback from anyone out there.