[intro]The Removal of Spiritual America from the Tate has Little to Do with Art[/intro]
Time sheds a little more light on the controversy over Richard Prince’s Spiritual America and its removal from the Pop Life show at the Tate Modern. What’s at issue seems to be the UK’s shifting and unsure definition of indecency in relation to children:
British media-law expert Razi Mireskandari, whose firm Simon Muirhead & Burton has successfully defended the publication of sexually explicit photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in the U.K., says Tate Modern would be unlikely to lose an obscenity case. The U.K.’s Obscene Publications Act defines as “obscene material” anything that would “tend to deprave and corrupt” the public. “That doesn’t mean just ‘upset or put off,’ ” says Mireskandari. […]
British authorities seem to be increasingly cautious when it comes to photographs of kids. Two years ago, police seized a photograph by Nan Goldin of two young girls belly dancing in the nude. The work, which six years earlier had been judged decent by the Crown Prosecution Service, was part of a set owned by Elton John and was on display in a northeastern England gallery. The CPS once again cleared the image, saying that standards of propriety had not changed significantly since its last judgment.
U.K. laws on photographing children in public have become tougher in recent years too. This has led to controversies over where to draw the line. In July, a grandmother was reportedly prevented from taking pictures of her granddaughters at a public swimming pool as one of them showed off their diving. “I like to think it would have been obvious that I was their grandmother,” 85-year-old Sheila Campbell told the Daily Telegraph at the time. “There were no other children anywhere near her, but anyway, I was only interested in taking photos of my grandchildren.”