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Wednesday 28 May 2008

Les Patterson lives!

Despite the best efforts, largely on the backs of aboriginal culture, the success of 'Australian culture' has always been going - shall we say? - against the grain?

This week came a rather traditional backlash, confirmation of the dominant grain, as an art gallery in Sydney was raided (a major one, the RoslynOxley9 Gallery) for 'child pornography' images by the world renowned photographer Bill Henson.

Of course they weren't 'pornographic' except in the eyes of the prudish. But there was a 'beat-up'.
Australian slang - meaning: an exaggeration, big talk about nothing, often found in the media
The PM, Kevin Rudd, weighed in:
"Absolutely revolting. Whatever the artistic view of the merits of that sort of stuff - frankly, I don't think there are any - just allow kids to be kids."
Henson has had numerous shows involving nudes before - no reaction.

What links Rudd and New South Wales Premier Morris ("offensive and disgusting") Iemma? Catholicism, well known for its hypocrisy in such matters. Australian politics is steeped in this stuff.

Now you know why the Les Patterson stereotype is based on more than a kernel of truth.

Update: a group of prominent Aussies, including Cate Blanchett, released a letter today about the raid.

"We should remember that an important index of social freedom, in earlier times or in repressive regimes elsewhere in the world, is how artists and art are treated by the state."

"The intention of the art is not to titillate or to gratify perverse sexual desires, but rather to make the viewer consider the fragility, beauty, mystery and inviolability of the human body.

"The work itself is not pornographic, even though it includes depictions of naked human beings. It is more justly seen in a tradition of the nude in art that stretches back to the ancient Greeks, and which includes painters such as Caravaggio and Michelangelo."

"If an example is made of Bill Henson . . . it is hard to believe that those who have sought to bring these charges will stop with him."

"Rather, this action will encourage a repressive climate of hysterical condemnation."

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