23 August 2011

Jan Saudek and the Australians

Black Sheep & White Crow (1995) ~ Jan Saudek

Well the Australians are at it again, allowing the offended least common denominator sensibilities of some exhibition-goer to intimidate them into censoring the work of photographers. This time organizers of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale have reportedly removed the work pictured above from their exhibit. The photograph is by Czech photographer Jan Saudek. Why has it been removed? Because a woman complained to a bunch of government agencies that the image displayed a mother pimping her young daughter. And the agencies made it clear to the organizers that future public funding for the Biennale could not be assured if they disregarded such insightful public comment.

Government officials in Australia seem to be even more simpering than those in Britain or here in the States in situations like this. I am not persuaded by the offended woman's interpretaiton of the photograph. Neither am I a huge fan of this sort of work. But the decision to censor and self-censor is simply craven.

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