Sunday, 6 July 2008

moral panic revisited

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is at it again. This time he is objecting to the photograph on the cover of this month’s Art Monthly Australia. The picture, taken five years ago by Melbourne photographer Polixeni Papapetrou, is of her daughter Olympia, aged six. Papapetrou’s partner, the critic Robert Nelson noted: "It's interesting that if the Prime Minister comments on, say the greenhouse effect, he gets expert advice first . . . I would like to know which art expert advised him on this." In The Age’s report he said the photo was one of Olympia’s favourites and that "even my nine-year-old son said: 'Don't people understand that photography is acting?"' The usual suspects condemned the magazine. Joe Tucci, the chief executive of the Australian Childhood Foundation told the paper "a young child cannot understand how, with today's technology, the picture can be distributed around the world . . . It could haunt her when she's thirty and wants to be a lawyer or teacher". Somewhere somebody seems to have lost all sense of perspective and the Prime Minister’s readiness to weigh in isn’t going to help matters. Probably quite a few of us have naked photos taken at ages zero to whenever. At age thirty we are more likely to be embarrassed by something we did when we were twenty than when we were six.

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