Scotland Yard raids Saatchi Gallery over complaints of child pornography in Tierney Gearon show
March 10, 2001 6:19 AM   Subscribe

Scotland Yard raids Saatchi Gallery over complaints of child pornography in Tierney Gearon show - Why? Gearon, a former fashion model turned art photographer, has included in the show a couple of pictures of her children naked. "In one the two children are wearing theatrical masks while in the other her son is urinating in the snow." Gearon sees nothing wrong with her pictures, but apparently they make some people a little nervous.
posted by pracowity (19 comments total)
Your naked children are evil! At least pictures of them are. What a world, what a world.
posted by wiinga at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2001

Aren't there laws against that? I mean I think it's ok for children to be at a nude beach, right? Or? What about film/tv? Though I don't see the artistic genius that is naked 10 year olds, are there really /other/ reasons for them?

This reminds me of that Jesus link from yesterday, a lot of useless talk about nothing. Unless the police really discovers something, hmm?
posted by tiaka at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2001

They couldn't possibly go after the ACTUAL child pornographers could they.
posted by outsider at 9:37 AM on March 10, 2001

FYI, in case anybody skipped it, the some people link is actually a very sober critique of this sort of unposed-subject photography. I think I agree with it more than I do with Saatchi. Certainly it raises issues that have been addressed in American photography and art for close to two decades (indicating that this exhibition is less radical than it would like to be).

That said, the police getting involved is just one more symptom of the pedophilia witch-hunt that has inflamed Britain the last couple of years.
posted by dhartung at 9:56 AM on March 10, 2001

But doesn't a lot of that child pornography take place in third world countries? Even the ones in europe? I don't know, but I'd be kinda for establishing a secret task force that would follow these idiots around and as soon as they get enough evidence kidnap them back into the right countries? or just take them out? I'm sure it could be done, law issues though. heh.
posted by tiaka at 10:02 AM on March 10, 2001

That is called exploiting your own children to further yourself. It shows a real lack of character as a parent that an individual would photograph their own children naked for gallery viewing. Mine as well stick the photos in a magazine and sell subscriptions to the pedophile. The police should look at removing the children from the deviant environment they are being raised in.
posted by a3matrix at 10:16 AM on March 10, 2001

Naked doesn't always mean sexual, a3matrix. You gotta get your mind out of the gutter, cause you're the one sounding pretty devient.
posted by Doug at 10:57 AM on March 10, 2001

My reaction to these photos are the same as my reactions to Yo Momma's Last Supper. I don't find them offensive nor do I find them to be art. I think they just look like really stupid photographs. But art's subjective, I suppose.

She's not allowed to show a couple of photos of nude children in a small gallery presentation, but companies are allowed to plaster babies' butts and more all over television? Then again, wasn't Calvin Klein accused of child pornography a few years ago for an ad of two boys in their underwear?
posted by crushed at 3:25 PM on March 10, 2001

Taking snap shots of your kids naked and playing has been done since the Box Brownie became available to the average person. I have no problem with it. However, I do have a problem with slapping them up on a gallery wall or the net and calling them "art". Just my thoughts.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:13 PM on March 10, 2001

I'd have to agree with Doug there, a3matrix. Although I did read the "some people" link same as dhartung, and while I agreed with what was pointed out in the article, I also do wonder why society in general is trying so hard to stifle discussion of children's sexuality. Now, I don't think kids should be having sex -- not at all, at least not till late high school or college, so don't go wagging pedophilia at me -- but sexuality isn't something that descends from the heavens (or ascends from the depths of hell, depending on your point of view) at puberty; it's something we all have, to a certain degree, since birth.

Is that a disturbing thought? Yes, apparently. Does that mean we should lock Gearon up for exploring a facet of it? No. She's not doing anything original, true, but I find the fact that people are threatened enough by photos of nude kids hanging in an art gallery that they'd like them taken away from their parents, without knowing squat about their situation, far, far more disturbing than anything I've read about in this thread. Haven't we evolved beyond blanket statements like "all discussions of sexuality are bad" yet? Jeez.
posted by lia at 10:05 PM on March 10, 2001

Should children be able to give their permission for these photos to be put up in a gallery? If so, at what age is a child considered to have the requisite amount of knowledge about themselves and the world and are able to give that permission and fully understand what they are doing?

Will her children feel the same about this when they are adults as they do now, and if so, does that make this any more or less wrong/right?

If advertisers often make unwise and frankly exploitative decisions, and that this would not occur if they were not trying to sell something has everyone worked out if the Mother of these children is/is not trying to sell something, and does this make this decision any better/worse? If she is indeed trying to sell something, then what is it? I personally beleive that she intends these pictures to be seen as part of a whole (exhibition) and had no intent to harm her children in any way.

I have no definitive answer to these questions, and possibly neither does society as a whole, which is one of the reasons (I assume) why every time these pictures are exhibited, there is such a flurry of publicity and opposing ideas about it.

It tires me that I live in a world where someone can't take pictures of their children in the bath and not have to worry about alarm bells going off in the head of the person who processes these photos. Here we see a case where someone takes these photos and puts them on display in an art show and for all our talk, and the answers to these questions still elude me.
posted by lucien at 8:24 AM on March 11, 2001

I dunno, I see what a3matrix is getting at. No, naked does not necessarily mean sexual, but putting your kids naked into a gallery, putting them in the public sphere where anyone (including pedophiles) can see them violates the children. I think most of us would not want strangers looking at naked pictures of us; these kids have really no choice in the matter.
posted by dagnyscott at 6:37 PM on March 11, 2001

Dagny nailed it. The problem is not that the photos are pornographic, and those that have said so are really overreacting. But they are exploitive and don't take the wishes of the subjects into account. Even if the kids think it's okay, they're surely too young to make a reasoned judgment as to whether or not it is appropriate, and that's very bothersome.
posted by Dreama at 10:43 PM on March 11, 2001

Oh dear, have we allowed tabloid scare stories about paedophiles around every corner to affect MeFi opinions too?
Just how many people in this world do you think actually get off on pictures of naked children? What percentage of the world's population do you think it is? And then how many of them do you think would have visited this gallery to see one picture of a couple of kids playing and one of a kid peeing? If someone is that way inclined, do you honestly think they would expend the time and energy to go all the way to a small gallery to see 2 pictures? Or would they find an easier way to get their kicks perhaps?
If you take time to read around this subject a bit you'll discover the kids themselves were absolutely thrilled to be part of their mother's exhibition, they were given the choice and whether or not they are at a responsible age, they and their mother see no harm. Indeed, if this whole media circus hadn't blown up there would have been absolutely no harm whatsoever.
posted by Markb at 3:22 AM on March 12, 2001

dagny, dreama: would letting your three-year-old take off her bikini top at the beach because it makes her itch count as "putting them in the public sphere where anyone (including pedophiles) can see them" count as violating your child? how about putting a photo of your baby in diapers on your family website? or in a frame on your office desk?

when do we draw the line? when do you? markb has a point; planning your lives (and commenting about the decisions of others) based on the deviant activities of a handful of people, evil as they might be, is overreacting.
posted by lia at 5:15 AM on March 12, 2001

An interesting book on the subject has just been published and is causing a furore here in the UK as it dares to question the myriad of 'Experts' who constantly warn parents of this danger and that;

Children are actually physically safer than they have ever been before and perhaps more in danger from the conflicting advice handed out to parents by different generations of "childcare experts".

posted by Markb at 9:10 AM on March 12, 2001

"Oh dear, have we allowed tabloid scare stories about pedophiles around every corner to affect MeFi opinions too?"

I'm not sure what that implies. Is it that Mefi users represent a cross section of society? Good, that's good isn't it?

As such each of us has can bring views, opinions, and facts to Mefi that are colored by our own unique upbringing, education, culture, religion, etc.........

If we are all as polite and understanding as one can expect people to be in these circumstances, then perhaps we can all gain from that. If people feel they are able to speak up about their views and not be immediately ridiculed or open to accusation, then I have learnt that they are more likely, not less, to be open to different points of view.

I don't buy the idea that people who are commenting here haven't "studied" the topic enough as this quote might seem to imply "If you take time to read around this subject a bit you'll discover the kids......." Even if it is true, it isn't the point. If you are trying to get people to see your point of view, it's not a good stance to take. It only gets people's backs up.

I'm trying to understand where people are coming from with some of their viewpoints, not just catagorise them as "wrong" (even if I don't share them) but understand what they really believe and why. Perhaps that’s too time-consuming, perhaps it's too dull (I find it interesting) I'd be interested to know if this thread has done some good, if anyone here has changed their opinion even a little. I mean that genuinely. I want to know what has worked here, and what has not.

For myself, I did get something out of most of the comment, particularly those of Mark's and Lia's, but perhaps that’s not so surprising, since their view is the view I am used to, the view that I hold. Two points, I don't think anyone believed that the children had been put in the exhibition against their will (that would be terrible) It was the possible future regret that they were describing, not the present. Secondly, that these sorts of exhibitions always get a lot of press coverage. That's not the Mother's fault, nor do I hold the belief that she should let this unfair reality orchestrate her decisions.

Thanks for the book recommendation.
posted by lucien at 12:20 AM on March 13, 2001

I concede my earlier post was a little accusatory in it's tone, it's borne out of my current frustration in a society which seems to see dire threat to children in everything.
I don't wish to deny people their views and opinions, I just trust the people here to be well informed and rational in their thinking. There has been much talk of the percieved threat of paedophiles recently in this country, the vast majority of it sensationalist and uninformed.
So when I see comments like "The police should look at removing the children from the deviant environment they are being raised in", it annoys me. Do rational people actually believe this? You see, I never see any cogent justification for this type of comment, only rhetoric and demands that 'something should be done'.
posted by Markb at 1:00 AM on March 13, 2001

dagny, dreama: would letting your three-year-old take off her bikini top at the beach because it makes her itch count as "putting them in the public sphere where anyone (including pedophiles) can see them" count as violating your child?

Well, not so much, because it's not part of the public record, just there where they could be seen by whoever happens to be around. And you're not making her do it, are you? See, they have no choice in whether they're shown naked to the world at large. It's not just that they don't understand the implications, it's that it's silly to think kids have any power to question their parents, our system says "do whatever your parents say."
posted by dagnyscott at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2001

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