You remember my friend the photographer that I wrote about yesterday. She allowed me to publish her respons to the organizers of the art competition, where she explains why it is wrong of them to supress her photograph of her daughter. So here goes, in the words of the artist:
I shall change the thumbnail (to let you know I haven’t decided yet if I will just re-crop it so the image starts at the child’s shoulders or change the image completely), but I would like to comment upon this first.
You and your organization are asking me to change the thumbnail due to its ”sensitive nature”. Clicking through ”View the Work” and seeing the other thumbnails, there are erotic images, nude images, an image of a man masturbating on the street. Wouldn’t these also be considered of a ”sensitive nature”? If you censor me, then where else can the censorship go? Why not ask the other artists to choose different thumbnails as well? Is my image more sensitive because it is of a child? I would like to point out that the image is not a full frontal of a child. She is not in a compromising pose. She isn’t being manipulated into being photographed. She isn’t acting inappropriately or overly sexual. She is just being her.
We bring our own preconceptions to this particular image. Which is why I choose it in the first place. It challenges the viewer. I have had many different responses to this image from it being seductive to it being the essence of childhood innocence. Isn’t the response more of an intimate look at the viewer than anything else?
I understand the world we live in. I understand that you are most likely asking me to change the image because it depicts a nude child, and with the child pornography laws we have in this country (as well as around the world), you are most likely just trying to protect the organization this competition is run through. But what is art if not to challenge perspectives and boundaries within cultures? Where would Sally Mann’s work be if she had tried to release her images in today’s climate?
I believe that, by you censoring me, asking me to change the image you (as well as I because I am conceding to your wishes) are contributing to what we believe we are trying to protect. I would NEVER hurt or endanger a child. But I believe that I am contributing to the climate of violence and abuse by stifling this image. When we change this image we contribute to the world of fear we have created. Every child; boy or girl, every adult; man or woman, are sensual and sexual beings, while at the same time innocent, naive and carefree. By silencing the conversation resulting from the exposure to this image, we are stopping understanding, we are stopping acceptance, we are stopping our voices. By denying this image (or any image like this one, any image that challenges the viewer) we create fear and misunderstanding. Fear creates anger. Anger creates violence. Thusly the cycle begins and continues.
So let me ask you one last time before I change this image – Do you want to change the world or do you want to make it even grayer?
Thank you for your time and consideration.