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Elton John's Nan Goldin Photo Judged "Not Indecent"

A Nan Goldin photo entitled "Thanksgiving" which was part of an exhibition of works owned by Elton John was seized last month as part of a child pornography probe. Authorities now say there will be no charges in the case.

KlaraReuters reports: "Northumbria CPS said it had told police there was insufficient evidence to justify proceedings for possession or distribution of an indecent photograph. It said it had investigated the picture by U.S. photographer Nan Goldin in 2001 when it was part of another exhibition at the Saatchi gallery in London and had decided then that it was not indecent. Kerrie Bell, head of CPS Northumbria's South Unit, added: 'In order to prove that the photograph is indecent we must be satisfied that contemporary standards of propriety are so different now to what they were in 2001, that it is more likely than not that a court will conclude that the photograph is indecent. I am not satisfied that is the case. Even if the photograph was now considered to be indecent, a defendant would be able to raise a legitimate defence, given that the photograph was distributed for the purposes of display in a contemporary art gallery after having been deemed not to be indecent by the earlier investigation."

You can see the photograph here.

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  1. Well, DUH!!!!!!!

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 26, 2007 12:03:09 PM

  2. Funny first comment! I have to say this pic makes me a bit uneasy but that's just me.

    Posted by: FrenchBen | Oct 26, 2007 12:08:57 PM

  3. Ugh, anything passes for art today if there is someone rich and pretentious enough to call it so.

    Posted by: protogenes | Oct 26, 2007 12:16:16 PM

  4. I don’t think the photo is porn but I don’t like the photo either and I don’t consider it artistic.

    Posted by: ~^~ | Oct 26, 2007 12:18:22 PM

  5. That's a horrible picture -why on earth would you want to

    a) make a photo like that

    b) actually buy it

    disgusting...shame on elton

    Posted by: ewwww | Oct 26, 2007 12:43:49 PM

  6. Why shame on Elton? The work is part of an exhibition of photos by a photographer who is a widely respected artist. (Her work is also valuable.) Yes, she makes some disturbing images (this image disturbs me) but, taken as a whole, her photographs--in my opinion--are a moving diary of her life and the people in it, honest but hardly pornographic. She has also chronicled the lives of people on the fringes for decades, including LGBT people, and her photographs showed the impact of AIDS on our communities in a profound way.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 26, 2007 12:54:02 PM

  7. Well, 'art' is selective. I personally would cross the street to avoid a Picasso, and the incoherent junk that Warhol produced sells in the millions still - as does the doodlings of Keith Haring. But, again personally, I wouldn't call this art. If this is art with a monetary value, then my mom's photo album is worth 10 mil easily.

    At first glance I see two little girls having a blast with their youth - frolicking nude as many kids do. And it put a smile on my face, as I grew up with 5 sisters and 3 brothers.

    On the other hand, in more dangerous hands and minds, it could (and I am sure has already been) be utilized as pedophilia porn, for sure. And that's the sick, deplorable fact.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Oct 26, 2007 1:03:24 PM

  8. I do not like Nan Goldin's artwork, but it is infact artwork. It just happens to be bad and lazy artwork. I can't imagine why Elton would want that picture.
    Any image or object may be defined as "pornographic in RESULT" if the viewer seeks it out or having seen it, returns to it for sexual arousal. A pedophile might use this photo for sexual arousal, but did Nan Goldin make the photograph with that intent? I don't think so. Her photo did not have "pornographic INTENTION".
    Censorship is that misguided adventure in which some people attempt the impossible: ridding the world of images and words that might possibly be used in an unholy way.

    Posted by: Father Tony | Oct 26, 2007 1:26:03 PM

  9. i haven't seen the photo. This is an excellent point, "Even if the photograph was now considered to be indecent, a defendant would be able to raise a legitimate defence, given that the photograph was distributed for the purposes of display in a contemporary art gallery after having been deemed not to be indecent by the earlier investigation."

    I guess it will come down to what other photos were confiscated along with it. Owning mapplethorpe photos doesn't make one a pervert. Owning lots of photos of unknown amateurs being brutalized sexually along with the mapplethorpes means you weren't interested in mapplethorpe just for the art. Same with someone collecting images of sexualized children (which is what I'm assuming the photo is of, since I haven't seen it yet and Towleroad is not hosting it), for me given Kerrie's statement above it's going to come down to what else is in that photo collection. Nothing but sexualized children? there's a problem. Lots of amateur shots as well? time for an arrest. Just one photo out of a collection deemed acceptable previously? let it pass.

    Posted by: Nita | Oct 26, 2007 1:35:49 PM

  10. Well put, Father Tony. It is about intention, and whatever one's artistic opinion of the photo in question, it's highly unlikely it was created to arouse and equally unlikely that Elton John owns it for this reason.

    Arrest? Of Elton John? How ludicrous. I've seen no indication that Elton John owns a collection of amateur child pornography. He owns a Nan Goldin collection called "Thanksgiving" that includes a photograph with 2 children playing (one is naked and in a position that could be interpreted as sexualized); Goldin's work is not primarily focussed on children, let alone "sexualized" children. The photograph shouldn't have been a problem for John in the first place or part of a child pornography investigation.

    Posted by: Ernie | Oct 26, 2007 4:06:43 PM

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