Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Little Self Respect

Images from Bronwyn's upcoming book Just Stop It Anne: A Survivor Speaks Back.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Banner

In other news...
On Lateline tonight Tony Abbott says: "If it is considered pornography on my computer, I don't see how it isn't pornography in an art gallery [or on a calendar, mousepad, credit card]," once again proving that context is irrelevant when it comes to offensive images in art.

He also states: "I mean, I haven't actually seen the works in question, but . . . [s]ometimes things are just wrong." We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Tony.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It Happened To Me Too

'Her hands. Large, cold, touching my skin. A large petal pressed against my pubis. All I can see is FLASH FLASH -- I call out to mum, but she isn't there. FLASH. The only face I see is Anne's.'

The above is an edited extract from the forthcoming book Just Stop It Anne: A Survivor Speaks Back, by Bronwyn Jean.

Bronwyn* was only 6 months old when she first encountered Anne Geddes. Her mother remembers Geddes as a fresh faced photographer who approached the mother and child at a local bus stop in the Sydney suburb of Glebe over twenty years ago. A photo shoot ensued.

"I don't think Mum knew what she was doing." Bronwyn says. "But I certainly didn't give consent."

Little did she know that 23 years later she would be forced to confront the experience, when the police action and community backlash against photographer Bill Henson was splashed across the nation's newspapers.

"I didn't realise how all of these feelings, all of these memories and associations had been buried so deep inside of me," the promising art student confesses to me as we share a coffee in an inner city cafe.

"When I realised, it was like a slap in the face. I suddenly felt dirty. Like all these years my bare body had been flaunted - on the internet, calendars and in diaries for anyone - any pedophile - to see." Bronwyn manages a bitter chuckle. "And all in the name of art."

For Samuel*, 24, his 'Geddes experience' was even more traumatic. It was at a Christmas gathering fifteen years ago, when the gift of an Anne Geddes calendar led to the night his childhood innocence was irrevocably stolen from him.

"After my Uncle leafed through the calendar, I remember something about him changed... The next thing I remember was the sound of footsteps approaching my bedroom..."

Bronwyn isn't surprised to hear Samuel's story. In fact it's precisely because of his story, and the countless others like it, that she decided to confront her demons and go public. Bronwyn has now initiated the Stop Anne Geddes campaign to raise awareness about the explicit pornographic content of the photographer's work.

"Just because she's an 'artist', it doesn't mean she's above the law. Geddes has been filling the public domain with images that blatantly sexualise extremely young children, and she has been getting away with it for far too long."

With old wounds violently reopened after the furore surrounding Henson's pornographic photography, a long journey of healing now awaits Bronwyn

"I can't sleep, I get rashes, I can't drive in tunnels or enter gardens. Flowers in general make make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end -- a feeling that no-one should ever have to experience. In short, I'm severely photosensitive."

"Am I getting over it?" she says, looking wistfully out the window. "Well, I'm trying." She nods, as though she's trying to convince herself. "If I can stop this from happening to one other child, then I've achieved something."

* Names have been changed to protect identities.