This is a PS to yesterday’s post.
My comments yesterday notwithstanding, I found it galling to watch the Art Monthly Australia cover kid at the centre of the current “controversy”, Olympia Nelson, now 11 years old, mouthing off in earnest defence of the publishing of her 6 year old naked form as art and claiming she was “really, really offended by what Kevin Rudd had to say” about her picture. (For those who came in late, Rudd has been variously quoted as stating that he “can’t stand” and “hated” the picture…which means that the ALP marketing gurus have divined a positive electoral response to the PM’s moral posturing on the Henson naked pubescent pics and told him to keep up the good work).
It seemed pretty obvious, watching Olympia gushing out adult phrasing during her TV interview last night, that she’d been well schooled in what to say. Daddy (Robert Nelson) loomed over her with the air of a minder/mentor, ready to correct her, it seemed, at the slightest sign of departure from the script. Nelson, who works as art critic for The Age, presented in flamboyant attire – garish shirt and ridiculous bloated bow tie – that shouted “artist, art critic, arty, bohemian, coolest daddy on the block”. All so…managed. And if not, what a fucking poseur.
It is clear from my recent posts that I fervently believe freedom of artistic expression is a cause worth fighting for. However, I do not believe in exploiting kids in public philosophical point-making.
Maybe my perception is awry. Maybe Olympia is a very mature, articulate and intelligent 11 year old who has a highly developed artistic sensibility and well-formed ideas on issues around freedom of artistic expression and the portrayal of naked children in art. However, it was telling when the reporter asked her what she thought the Art Monthly Australia cover shot meant, and stumped by this call for an unprepared personal response, she turned to bohemian Daddy and asked “can you help me out here?” Hmmm.
My impression is that Olympia’s parents are using her as a mouthpiece for broadcasting their views. It’s wrong to use your kid as propaganda for your cause. There’s no other word for that but exploitation. And that’s in the same ballpark as child abuse. Which rather undermines the parents’ cause – and Art Monthly Australia’s – dunnit?