Thursday, July 10, 2008

Naked Crunch


The Water Babies - Charles Kingsley

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things
We murder to dissect.

William Wordsworth




For interminable weeks Australia has been seized by the dilemma of whether or not it is acceptable to photograph naked children for the purposes of high art. The only respite for the socially conscious media watcher is to be briefly drawn into fretting about the likelihood that the world will run out of food, water and petrol before it runs out of air. So much for fruitful contemplation. I now feel compelled to contribute to this ‘debate’, and I use the term loosely as the arguments for and against so far put forward make me suspect both sides have assembled think tanks composed entirely of ornamental budgies to formulate their theses. Anyone would think this was a hard question.

A little background for those living in blissful ignorance beyond these shores. Last month an exhibition opened in Sydney of the work of renowned (here at least) photographer Bill Henson. Some, but not all, of the pieces are nude photographs of children under sixteen. These are interspersed with landscapes - a critical factor in the semantics that followed. Crucially, a photograph of a naked thirteen-year-old girl was used on the invitation and poster, rendering it the predominant image of the exhibition, not to mention drawing notoriety to the show. New South Wales police, in an ill-advised and ham-fisted raid, impounded the works, declaring they were ‘pornography’. Authorities duly judged that they were nothing of the kind and the exhibition proceeded. Since then a media battle has raged drawing in no lesser luminaries than the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (a practising Christian) in defence of the rights of children to be heard and not seen and gob-for-hire Cate Blanchett (a practising tosser) in defence of really famous people being allowed to do what they like. With the cream of the intelligentsia on the case, you’d be forgiven for thinking that at least some thought-spiking statements might result. Unfortunately not.

Those against the photos being exhibited couldn’t overcome their disgust for long enough to form a sentence. A spokesperson for some family-focused lobby group, a woman with the highly lampoonable name of Hetty (Het-up-Hetty leaps to mind), popped up every five minutes blathering about some ‘process’ that ought to be ‘gone through’ and the Prime Minister pulled yuck faces. Not what you’d call decisive action in defence of child protection. The libertine pro view is naturally premised on the right to free expression and the perceived threat to it by the imposition of censorship. Most sections of the media supported this view being, theoretically at least, in the freedom of expression business. There seemed to be a great deal of collusion in the orchestrated response between self-interested parties which suggests that everyone involved at least had some awareness that the situation was sensitive enough to require skillful management. Women artists who had photographed their own little girls naked were recruited to face down the challenge to responsible parenting and to prevent the rather uncomfortable picture of a sleazy looking, middle-aged bloke standing in front of a naked thirteen-year-old for hours on end instructing her to smile and place her limbs in certain configurations forming too fixed an image in the nation’s collective psyche.

In the latest salvo, a photograph of a naked girl aged six, taken by her artist mother, has appeared on the cover of Art Monthly, a partly government funded magazine. A cock-snooking act if ever there was one, and one that is as petulant as it is manipulative. Defiantly, the girl who is now eleven, appeared on the doorstep with her art critic father this week. He wore a clownish shirt and comic bow-tie – presumably to underscore the Bohemian and anti-corporate credentials of the family. Both were anxious that the public understand the little girl had given her ‘consent’ at the time and stands by that consent now. There is a huge question mark in my mind over how far a girl of six or eleven or even thirteen might feel at liberty to make objective choices in the face of the stated desires of parents whom she is anxious to please. I’m guessing little girls don’t normally skip into the family living room squealing, ‘I wanna be papped in the buff, Mum.’

Journalist David Marr who is usually sensible, came out with the fundamentally flawed justification that there is a tradition in art of depicting naked children that must be preserved. Sure there is. Naked children symbolise innocence. But the exploitation of that nakedness surely epitomises the converse – theft of innocence, or at the very least appropriation of it. David Marr might also like to consider that we no longer send children up chimneys and down mines with the canaries. When he talked about the history of child nakedness in art, he was drawing on a tradition that exists mostly in painting, drawing and sculpture. It’s true that a child’s identity might be revealed in any of these media. The distinction is that a photograph, by its nature, depicts a real event, i.e. that a real child stood naked in front of an adult at his or her bidding. A sculpture, painting or drawing can be reproduced from memory and is not actual proof that a real child ever performed this function. This is why men don’t wank all over The Water Babies. When police stormed the Bill Henson exhibition with a view to prosecution under arcane and complex pornography laws, they were on the wrong track. In any case, pornography laws vary from state to state. The pertinent issue is whether or not society undertakes to use the law to protect the privacy of children, not whether or not an image of a single child naked can be considered pornographic. Of course it can’t. But it is exploitation and, in the present climate of paranoia over child safety, a complete anomaly.

Even so, the main focus of child protection activity in the current social climate where no one appears to believe it’s a bad thing to commodify and fetishise children’s bodies for commercial gain, is on safeguarding the privacy of individual children and inhibiting the abilities of those who might exploit them to access their personal details – and this should include what they look like under their clothes. This is where it all gets a bit murky. Passionate art experts have lined up to explain to us plebs that it’s all a question of ‘context’. Okay, I’ll play. Apparently, if you intersperse nude photographs of children with sultry sunsets and moody trees, they become .. er.. something entirely different. As of today’s date, no one has come forward to amplify what it is exactly they do become. It's important to maintain an open mind but not so open that your brains fall out.

As many of you know, Pants doesn’t normally have much patience with rules that are difficult to follow by virtue of being encumbered with lots of unqualifiable exceptions. The art world appears to be suggesting it’s okay for some people to take photos of naked children but not others. So what I’m hearing is that a prominent artist who happens to be a middle-aged bloke apparently operates with an entirely different set of motivations and values than any other man with a camera and access to naked children. Well, he might do. Who’s to say? Also, it’s apparently okay for some people in some places to view photographs of naked children and not others. That context argument again. It’s okay if it’s in an art gallery because paedophiles do not go to art galleries. Art historian Betty Churcher also helpfully explains that paedophiles don’t buy Art Monthly. Presumably she has ways of knowing this for certain. She might try phoning around some public libraries to see how many of their copies have been found in the men’s toilets with sticky pages. You think I’m kidding? Ask a librarian.

Consider the irony of parents freaking out if their children get so much as a suspicious SMS message and then blithely strolling through a gallery viewing photos of girls the same age or younger than their own children in the altogether. These might be the same parents who wouldn’t let their daughters have slutty Bratz dolls. I’m not pro-censorship but I question the frankly patrician assertion that a right exists for adults to view naked images of real, individual children. And you know I'm not in favour of extending further privileges to the already over-priveleged. It is the duty of art to challenge convention but this does not entitle artists to claim liberties that potentially threaten the liberties of others.

In this freakishly self-conscious age can anyone anticipate how the children whose images are appearing today for adult consumption, no matter what the context, might feel about it in a few years time? What if one of these girls decides she wants a public life in the future? Is it worth the risk to her self-image when there are a million other ways to symbolically represent innocence in art? How can we sanction exposure of some children's bodies to potentially a world audience on their behalf on the one hand and pixellate the faces of fully clothed others on the pretext of preserving their privacy? And, given that in most other situations, children are over-protected to the point of stifling their freedom of movement, why make this absurdly unnecessary exception for no other reason than to appease a powerful artistic lobby just because they happen to be banging the freedom of expression drum very loudly? 

In a bizarre television discussion on the public broadcaster SBS recently, remarkable for its singular inability to find anyone with anything vaguely succinct to say on the matter, a still unnamed adult woman, who’d been photographed naked as a child appeared. Her mother was asked why the family had chosen to suppress her name even now and she said they didn’t want ‘creeps’ finding out who she was. This betrayed an awareness that the images were likely to have salacious appeal to at least some. My question is how does one separate the creeps from the dotes? Instead of working ourselves into a lather trying to anticipate the predilections of paedophiles or even plain old garden variety 'creeps' why not just leave them kids alone?

There are an awful lot of questions here. Please feel free to address any or all of them. I honestly would like to have a decent exchange on this.

39 comments:

Brian Hughes said...

If viewing pictures of naked children turns men into pedophiles, then sado-masochistic images of naked men nailed to bits of wood explains a lot about catholics.

Stray said...

Hey Lovely Pants - very thought provoking stuff!

My first question is whether there is any open discussion happening about the fact that the vast majority of children who are sexually abused are victims of family, family friends, neighbours and trusted adults - almost never strangers?

While I'm certainly not comfortable with the art bit, it seems like it could be a distraction from the estimate that (UK) something like one in four people are subject to sexual violence before the age of 18.

Do you think perhaps polite society feels reassured of its 'protection' of children in focussing on specific types of images (like you say, excluding the general sexualisation of young people for marketing reasons) and not engaging with the fact that many thousands more kids are just being straight-up sexually abused off-camera?

That's So Pants said...

Hi Brian

I suspect it does. However homo-erotic it may be, representations of the crucifixion don't use real children as a resource. I didn't suggest that viewing pictures of naked children necessarily turned men into paedophiles, in fact I think I went to rather a lot of trouble to question the assumptions made by both sides. My point is that we either have laws to protect the privacy of children or we don't.

Hi Stray

Australia has a huge problem with child abuse, particularly in Aboriginal communities, and not much of a clue about how to go about fixing it. Yes, maybe it is a distraction and I think the point is well made that abuse is more likely to take place in a setting that ought to be governed by trust - like within the family or with friends of the family.

xxx

Pants

phil said...

Well that's the most sensible discussion I've run across yet of this issue, well done you.

I think the 'arty' crowd have gone a step too far on this one - their protestations may ring true but lack common sense and are condescending. I think that's your assessment also, yes?

Getting some proportion into the issue without resorting to censorship is difficult, though.

I imagine that if we left it at the status quo and the art crowd didn;t push the issue by putting the most provocative stuff on front pages, etc, the thing would go away (or perhaps under the carpet). A quiet accommodation, you might say.

R.H. said...

Wooh. Catholics. The dirty dogs. Guilty of everything. (I put three kilos on this week -that's them again! ha ha ha)
I'm not Catholic, but in Mashhad I saw wall posters of non-believers split down the middle with a sword. Say something about that.
When I was a kid roaming the streets here in Melbourne -and especially in the city, getting pestered by paedophile homos wasn't unusual.
But anyway it should be clear that these twerps enjoy images of naked kids. What they'd really like is acceptance. If naked-child photos become billboard they'll be on their way.
Meanwhile it amuses me that these shrieking poseurs -provincials, self-proclaimed artists, writers, and so on, dressing up for the part -and incapable of creating one bloody thing that's any good, are first in opening their big traps to defend obscenity.
Degenerates aren't far behind.

Anonymous said...

I find myself in agreement with your "leave them kids alone" sentiments and so too with the idea that its ok for some middle-aged blokes with cameras to photograph nude youngsters but not for others.

I can't say I've ever admired Henson's work and probably would feel differently were he not a middle aged bloke. I'm not sure what this says about me--other than I'm cognisant of the uncle pervy factor lying dormant (or not so) dormant in many men. The furore over his recent exhibition has undoubtedly propelled his career along, for better or worse and it will be interesting to see how this unholy stink, affects his choice of subject matter in future, as I think it might.

Interesting too that Art Monthly has been threatened with having its funding 'reassessed'--very Howardian. This from the Arts Minister, who as far as I know has refrained from giving his personal take on either 'cases'. Wise probably, but then he might be a bit confused, (as am I), about what he really feels vs what he thinks he should say that he feels.

The Art Monthly cover was pretty innocent I thought and its hard to imagine how this image could ever embarrass or compromise this child's future--clearly she was just a kid. I think however, in these enlightened times, images of nude children for their own sake, in whatever context, don't really serve any useful positive function.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Phil

Thanks - I found it quite difficult not to come across as a bit of a wowser - so successfully have the art set colonised the moral high ground. I actually think the censorship argument might be obfuscation. As a society, we are capable of living within ethical boundaries which are largely defined by public tolerance. What I suspect is happening here is a pressure to conform that a lot of people don't feel comfortable with because it pinches that not quite right nerve in them. That's how it was with me anyway. In the absence of any evidence about damage done to the children who are being used in this exercise, my choice would be simply not to take the risk.

HI RH

A lot of points here. I should point out that both sides have referenced paedophile interest in the media. I was hoping to deal more with the moral argument rather than get waylaid by speculation about consequences but I suppose in the process of hypothesising, I inevitably had to go there.

I think you are right about opportunistic interest. Many of the men caught with collections of images of children they took from the internet have been police officers. In the course of looking at these images as part of an investigation, they developed a fascination.

HI Anon

I must say - I wasn't expecting so many people to agree with me on so many points. To be honest, I was expecting a few rockets.

I pointed out Henson's middle-agedness to draw attention to the rather exceptional circumstances in which we are being asked to approve his access to use underage children as a resource. I hope I haven't suggested that his intentions were prurient, but merely point out that in most other situations the law would assume they were. Whether that is right or wrong is a question that obviously needs more exploration. I don't suggest, I hope, that all middle-aged men are predatory, simply that there is an issue with men abusing children in our society and we should at least acknowledge the risk of this kind of activity. I wouldn't want to see him discriminated against because of his age, gender and the level of fame which he enjoys any more than I want him privileged by it.

Re Art Monthly - a case of trading threats and all rather childish and ill-considered. My sister is a librarian in a public library and you would be surprised, and not in a pleasant way, at what horrors abound in the men's toilets.

To me there is a clear difference between the symbolic artistic representation of youth as the epitome of beauty - a tradition that goes back to Greek times and the fetishisation of children's bodies.

xxx

Pants

Andrew said...

I find it hard to be serious about this Pants, unfortunate, as I can see some work went into the post. Having seen the pictures, they are clearly artistic and not at all sexual. There should be no shame, not now, nor in the future. The sexualisation of young teens and even pre teens is what society ought to be focusing.

That's So Pants said...

HI Andrew

People are going to think this issue is trivial, largely because it has been very successfully trivialised by poorly constructed argument on both sides, I think. I agree that the intention of these photographs was clearly artistic and they have been deemed not to be pornographic, which I agree is fair because they do not appear to be intentionally sexually provocative. I think it is questionable to assume that no men will be aroused by photos of naked thirteen-year-old girls. That, in itself is not a crime of course, and neither should it be. But neither is it indicative of a healthy and equal society.

I was hoping to highlight the hypocrisy which is evident here, to me at least. In the seventies feminists found themselves in the rather uncomfortable position of being on the same side as the Christian right in opposing the explosion of exploitative pornography that accompanied the new permissiveness. Plenty of babies ended up going out with that bath water.

Whatever age is set to protect the privacy of children is going to be arbitrary - there are plenty of sexually active thirteen-year-old girls for which the argument is surely moot. I am not anti-precocity as long as it's natural and not induced to meet the needs of adults. There is a wide range of ages at which young people will naturally reach sexual maturity. I'm in favour of loosening the leash on young people's freedom of movement, not tightening it. What I'm questioning is the demand that the protection of an individual child's privacy be overruled to accommodate artists at will. Is there a net benefit here, anywhere?

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Long before censorship went up the chimney me and my risque pals liked going to art cinema festivals for a perv; they showed it all. Eventually I realised everyone else was there for the same reason.
Like it or not, there's a concentration of creepies in the arts.
What's funny and a really big joke in this country is that our so-called artists are mugs you only notice when something like this happens. Maybe that's why it does.

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

I did wonder about the ease with which this provocation was achieved.

xxx

Pants

Andrew Highriser said...

Pants, it is trivial, and then it is not. We have to appreciate that it is media thing. A blow up out of proportion, media pushing an issue with some skilled media knowledgeable people involved.

A few men may find a naked 13 year old girl arousing. I think they are more likely to find a sluttily dressed 13 year old girl gyrating her hips in the latest music video clip more arousing.

I recall reading someone's blog a long time ago, and I never stuck with the blog, but she was complaining about how men were leering at her twelve? year old daughter when they were out for a walk. I did not take much notice until I looked at the blog comments. She described how her daughter was dressed and yes, dressed like that, men would leer at her.

Art, like what the fuss has been about, has been around for a long time but it would seem it is up for review. The media did a good job. Here I am writing about it umpteen days later. Political alliances have been formed, opinions expressed, newspapers sold, tv ratings judged. Money had been made.

So Pants, have you recovered from staying up all night watching the tennis?

That's So Pants said...

Hi Andrew

I agree that the media have manipulated this, probably for largely selfish reasons, I don't want the argument here at least to be waylaid by what men do and don't get aroused by - believe me, few things interest me less. I'm alarmed by children being dressed like pole dancers as well but they will want what is marketed to them and they will get what their parents are prepared to buy for them - no demand, no incentive to manufacture. But, for the most part, little girls with 'Sexy' tattooed across their flat chests in rhinestones do not become subjects of the world's attention. One could of course argue that attention is the media's fault but it would be a bit like complaining that your cat ate your goldfish. I watched feminism get hijacked by the fixation with bra-burning. It doesn't get any more trivial than that. The ease with which that was accomplished was fearsome.

I watched the Venus and Serena final - but was horrified by the commentary, the ads (arrggghhh) and the fact that the male commentator kept referring to them as 'girls'. It just wasn't Wimbledon. Glad I didn't stop up for the men's final - I'll be perfectly happy to watch it on DVD. The ads and rain delays would have seen me put in a home.

xxx

Pants

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm with you on this one, Pants.
I was reminded of the Miley Cyrus exhibit by Annie Leibowitz in Vanity Fair. Which I think is a completely different type of exposure than what is on exhibit by Hanson. Hers was meant to titillate, I believe, though she denies it.
I think the fact that these photos are used by pervs says it all. I think a child should have the right of privacy over her own body.
I cringe at the thought of my 13 year old granddaughter being the object of lust of a middle aged wanker.
But was it ever thus, I wonder. Think Lewis Carroll surrounded by naked children.
It doesn't make it acceptable.
I have a severe bleurgh factor on all of the above.
And I'm against censorship.
Maybe there's too much pushing of the boundaries of our tolerance. Especially when it involves minors below the age of fully informed consent.
that's it. I think.
XO
WWW

That's So Pants said...

Hi WWW

Yes, I distinctly feel like I'm being played and I really don't like that. Even hosting a discussion about it makes me feel like I'm objectifying children in a way. The fact that we even have a discussion about whether it's acceptable to use or not use children seems bizarre when I think about it. Statutory child protection is fairly new and I think this is one of the reasons the connection isn't being automatically made. People are simply not seeing this as a child protection issue, possibly because they expect abuse or the threat of abuse to have taken place before protective measures become relevant.

xxx

Pants

BlissHill said...

I am an artist, a long term life drawing enthusiast and a mother of daughters.

I would not draw a posed naked child, nor would I have allowed my now young women/daughters to pose nude as children under any circumstance.

Leave the kids alone to be kids!

That's So Pants said...

Hi Bliss Hill

Extremely useful to have an artist's perspective here. Thanks Bliss Hill. Do you find yourself on a limb with this? Do you think we're being fed the artists' view through a well-heeled prism - that would be my impression. Is it widely discussed in the art world? Sorry - cunning ploy to keep the conversation going.

xxx

Pants

BlissHill said...

There is certainly a heavy smattering of artistic snobbery sloshing round this subject. I am pretty sceptical of that section of the arts community who squawk for 'art at any cost'.

Centuries back, when artists were painting cherubs and baby Jesus all the time, they must have posed the poor little tackers. The child molesters amongst them would never have been brought to justice.

Now we have a society red raw from constant pedophilia, we just can't do it!

That's So Pants said...

I agree

I do think the fact that these are real children is crucial to the prurience factor but this is being continually obscured. There are plenty of places photography cannot legally and morally go - gratuitous killing or torture for the purposes of making a picture for e.g. They can be represented in films or paintings because they are able to be successfully achieved by illusion. No harm done. I am not opposed to the representation in art of children's bodies.

xxx

Pants

Dysthymiac said...

I posed nude for various photographers when I was 17. for the money. tasteful, but.
Just swinging through so you may admire my pretty photo thingy - it is Dior joaillerie ... and your illustration from The Water Babies is beautiful - I cannot imagine it being any use to a pervert.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Annie

Love the Dior dear! Quite right - no totty here!

xxx

Pants

JahTeh said...

When this matter first came up I'd seen quite a few of his images and I have to admit I didn't like them at all, not my style although I did appreciate his technical brilliance.

I had the feeling that my eyes and mind were being manipulated into seeing what the photographer wanted me to see and wondered how many shots he'd taken to get that particular moment frozen. I read an interview with him later and he had taken nearly 100 frames until he was satisfied with one.

A photograph is voyeuristic because it does capture one moment that never happens again where a painting is done over a length of time so it's never really immediate, it's a series of moments integrated into a whole.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Jahteh

Says it all really.

xxx

Pants

Andrew Highriser said...

I can understand your frustration about the tennis being on a commercial station Pants. With commercial tv comes excruciating commercial commentary. You have my sympathy, but our poor old ABC is poor in comparison to the Beeb.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Andrew

Sigh... I know. Still, I watch far less television these days and that does make me more industrious, so silver lining there.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Henson's images are identical in style to young-adult images shown on homosexual websites, put up there for a perv.

The naked body is what's being advertised, nothing else.

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

My point exactly - where precisely is the line? If the deciding factor is intent - as we are told is the case here, then the assessment of that intent must rest solely on the reputation of the artist and this can't be tested as his intent is what he says it is. The contents of his mind are invisible to us. Can this be right? Why extend him the benefit of the doubt based entirely on reputation? Just say for example, a convicted burglar is released from prison, buys a cheap camera and starts taking pictures of naked kids as good as Henson's? Who's to say his intentions are or aren't innocent? It might seem like suspicious behaviour, but my point is, I think Henson's behaviour seems suspicious as well and the clumsy attempts to suggest it isn't suspicious are not only illogical but smack of idiotic deference. In an interesting twist on the old wisdom, the emperor in this case is the only one actually wearing clothes.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Whatever Henson intended the result is shit.

Exhibiting naked thirteen year-olds needs to be stopped. It's not Henson, it's moral acceptance.
Degenerates choose their time.

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

I think you're right - the general public has been the arbiter here and that's how it should be. An artist's job is to test the boundaries - the audience's is to be the electric fence that reminds them of where the lines of moral responsibility are when they start disappearing so far up their own behinds that their judgment begins to suffer.


xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

You'd think it would be easy to distinguish art from pin-up.

The failure here is astonishing.

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

The blurring of this particular boundary is apposite, as it was during the debates in the seventies about the exploitation of women for men's entertainment. It can be art and still be exploitative.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

I'm not sure what you mean. I knew a woman who told me she was an exotic dancer (is that art?) but who turned out to be a strip tease 'artist' at St Kilda Ritz.

Women exploit themselves, they do it for cash. And willingly.

You'll never stop them. They want to be stars: dancing girls, from a young age. Hollywood has been teeming with hopefuls for a hundred years, how do you stop them? Feminists are nutty, strange, everyone knows that. Feminists declare war on men, and women too. Feminists declare war on nature itself, the entire life-force. But can't halt it: the old in-and-out. How disappointing.

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

Mmm. Wasn't expecting that. Whatever. I'm a feminist and I just want a quiet life. Am I off message?

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Yes, you're off topic, but I'll overlook it.


Feminism begins at forty.

That's what I've said, but it's often in the thirties, and the craziest (loudest) are dispa-a-a-artnerd.
Some have got kids too, that's a worry.
They're nutty, and I don't know why they get this way, exactly, but with many it's gripe at not nabbing Mr Darcy. Romance feeds them a lot of rubbish, from Mills and Boon to silly Jane Austen. They believe it, all this crap. When they find out it's not true they get dirty. And blame men. But men are only people, flawed like themselves.

It's a middle class thing anyway: feminism, a bourgeois toy, exclusive to silly dames on $50,000 a year: school teachers, academics, public servants...
Academia is a feminism stronghold. I've never met one non-professional woman who's a feminist.
My real theory if you want to know is they're disillusioned: all shagged out. They thought a fuck was just a small part of their attraction to a man -and found out it's everything.

That's So Pants said...

Mmm - doesn't sound like me - especially the part where she's earning money.

xxx


Pants

R.H. said...

ha ha ha. Well I've tried my best, but can't get a growl from you.

My diatribe needs a makeover.

-Robert.

That's So Pants said...

Yep - time for the old dog to turn some new tricks.. so to speak.


xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

xxx

Steve said...

Generally I see naked shots of children - and teenagers under an age where they can meaningfully give informed consent - as very dangerous and should be socially unacceptable for reasons of general exploitation.

Photos or art of human beings generally - including children - in spontaneous and natural surroundings that includes degrees of nudity that are a form of observation are much less likely to be unacceptable, in my opinion.

What I am more concerned about are the ways in which adults and children relate to each other, and in particular in anglo-saxon cultures, since I think it is probably the case that children fare worse in all ways in our cultures.

It also doesn't help that some of the respondents here - in the clearly mistaken guise of defending children - seem to think that there are 'nonces' on every street corner and every male 'stranger' is a potential pedo in waiting. That was particularly shown in the comment about 18/19 yo models on gay 'porn' sites. I suggest that person do a bit of research about the lengths to which teenage males (and females) will go to express their sexual exploration and yearning - even in cultures less contaminated than ours.
The simple truth is that sexuality and sexual identity is a learned and acquired phenomena and we should be assisting that by not having our adult heads up our shrivelled adult asses and being totally knee jerk in our reactions.