Social Question

janbb's avatar

If art is made that exploits the artists' children and the children later object, who should control it?

Asked by janbb (53624points) July 16th, 2010

If you are willing to put in the time please read this article. If you don’t want to read it, I’ll precis. Larry Rivers made a film as part of an artistic project of his adolescent daughters’ developing breasts and genitalia. Now his archives are being transferred to NYU. One of the daughters, who is now 43, has been pleading with the archives for years to have the films destroyed. NYU is offering a compromise; they will not be shown while the daughters are alive. She finds this unacceptable. My friend feels they are an important part of the artistic legacy; I feel the abused woman’s feelings take precedence despite that. Your thoughts?

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398 Answers

missingbite's avatar

I don’t feel that artistic legacy should be able to invade another person’s life. I haven’t seen the “art” so I don’t know the particulars….but if this was made of a child, I would say she should have the right to put a stop to it. It shouldn’t matter that it was from her father.

dpworkin's avatar

The video is an historical document regardless of its content or origins, and as such belongs to future researchers. It would be vandalism to grant one woman’s temporary desire (she is, after all, going to die, and after that it cannot possibly matter to her) in favor of the entire world of art history to come. Her father became famous and highly regarded and important to historians. She is a minor footnote at best. Tant pis.

janbb's avatar

I think if a person was coerced into participating and feels that it is detrimental to their well-being to know that it will exist after they die, that trumps the historical record here. (It’s the old Rembrandt or the dog in the house on fire debate, isn’t it?)

missingbite's avatar

I just did a little research on the matter and now really feel like it should be destroyed. It is of his naked under age children. Because he is famous should have nothing to do with it. Some consider it child pornography. The daughters should have every right to have it destroyed no matter what. As @dpworkin stated, the daughter will die one day, but her children will still be alive and her family will continue.

If I video my niece taking a bath and try to publish it as art of a child bathing I would and should go to jail. He was wrong.

janbb's avatar

@missingbite Well, I wouldn’t agree that all naked children art and photography are child porn by any means. That is the reductio ad absurdum. But once the subject objects, I think they have rights.

dpworkin's avatar

Should all of Sally Mann’s photos be destroyed? You are being sentimental, which is admirable, but the document matters more to the world than to the daughters.

janbb's avatar

I can squint and see it both ways, which is why I am asking the question.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is tricky – I’m with you on this one – she, as an adult, has a right to be indignant at this but I don’t think there is much she can do, legally. Her father is at fault.

gorillapaws's avatar

I actually think there could be some serious artistic value here. I imagine it’s a piece about the metamorphosis of child into woman, an experience that profoundly affects half the world’s population. I haven’t seen it (and I certainly have no desire to), but I think art has to win here. It’s like when the pope defaced the art in the vatican having leaves painted over the genitals of the angels.

I love my dog with all of my heart, but if it came down to him or a Rembrandt painting, I would have to choose the one that will still be around and studied in 500 years.

dpworkin's avatar

There is a wonderful but lesser known Yiddishist, Chaim Grade, (a better writer than I.B. Singer) whose work has been unavailable since the 1930s because his histrionic wife held the copyright, and interfered with every attempt to catalog or publish his work. I’m glad she died, and he is now restored to us.

kevbo's avatar

In most cases, photographers have to obtain releases from their subjects (or the parent/guardian). Obviously, the parent was the photographer in this case.

Fuck, I don’t know. She should just up and destroy it and call that art.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know what? That’s just creepy. A father “documenting” with film his adolescent daughter’s developing bodies.

Yes, they should honor her wishes and destroy it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Who will be making the money? Follow that trail to the end result.

Am I wrong to suppose that naked children have been documented since the beginning of art?

janbb's avatar

@dp We are not talking about supressing a whole body of art, as in the Grade case, nor for a frivolous reason. Can’t the legacy live without one Rivers film?

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m not sure she is pleading on legal grounds but on moral ones.

missingbite's avatar

I would argue that if a subject of Sally Mann wanted some of it destroyed and was a child when the work was done, should have the right to have it destroyed. I just feel a child doesn’t understand the implications of the photo or video until much later in life. It should be their decision as an adult.

I would not want naked photos of myself as a child out for the world to see just because one of my parents became a famous artist.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@janbb Then I’m with her, on moral grounds.

dpworkin's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies This isn’t a matter of money. That takes place in a different world. These items are not for sale, they are part of an historical archive maintained by scholars for scholars in perpetuity. Just because a part of history is ugly, no one has the right to deny the facts of it to posterity.

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin I look at it as an invasion of privacy. A child does not understand what it being done until an adult. I may be wrong but it’s how I view it.

dpworkin's avatar

@missingbite So what. The event took place 30 years ago, and now belongs to the world. Supposing Chaim Grade’s wife objected to one page being published, because it was about an episode of lovemaking involving her. Should it be destroyed? How about if Galileo had written something salacious about one of his children? Who owns Galileo’s thoughts now? Dead children, or the world?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin what if this was your daughter?

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin If you put your daughters in the same situation – not necessarily with you in the Rivers role – do you feel any differently about it?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@janbb How explicit is the film. If the kids are underage when it was made, what does that make it? Kiddie porn?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe the usual definition of porn involves sexual activity. Documenting the human form is usually considered art. Otherwise there are a lot of famous artists that might be considered kiddie pornographers.

I think this whole dilemma says a lot about how we’ve been cultured to be ashamed of our physical bodies.

janbb's avatar

I haven’t seen the film. The article says it was made when the girls were adolescents and shows their developing breasts and genitalia. It was part of a series called “Growing.” I have no sense at all that it was made to be pornographic.

rebbel's avatar

I don’t know if this Rivers guy is still alive?
If he still is, he should be a good father and give his daughter(s) the freedom to make their choice: give permission to open it to the public, or don’t give permission.
Obviously when one (Rivers) gives that freedom to someone (the daughter(s)), one (Rivers) should respect if she/they choose to keep the art closed for public eyes.
If he has already passed away, bad luck for him, he should have written down that his daughter(s) have the choice to do what they seem fit when they reached adulthood.
The girl(s) being object of his art, should have, in my view, the right, again, to publicize or not publicize.

missingbite's avatar

@gorillapaws I think it says a lot about how we view the wishes of children. If an adult wants to do it, go for it. We are talking about the child’s rights as an adult.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gorillapaws I guess I’m thinking it’s exploiting the kids, and that I have a problem with. There’s nothing wrong with the human body, as long as its consensual.

dpworkin's avatar

Someone make me a cogent argument about the rights of individuals as opposed to the rights of generations to come when important history is involved, and I will change my mind. In the meantime, the outrage is understandable: Larry Rivers betrayed his daughters. I would hate it if something similar befell my children, but in my opinion history trumps evanescent personal angst. Show me that it doesn’t, without resorting to sentimentality.

janbb's avatar

Good point – I’m trying.

gorillapaws's avatar

@missingbite I can’t ever think of a single instance in history where the destruction of art was a good thing. Art, even something sinister, should be there to be studied and interpreted. Things can be learned from studying the art of Hitler for example. Not all art needs to be hung on the mantle.

I agree that there was almost certainly an exploitation going on here, and Rivers should have been held responsible for that. But we’re not talking about if Rivers is a nice guy, it’s the question of whether art should be destroyed (I don’t think it ever should).

cazzie's avatar

I think the ‘subject’ of such a personal expression absolutely has a say in what happens to the piece. She felt coerced by her own father, for goodness sake… that is pretty sick and sad. THAT is a human being in the images and there is no way I will accept that there is a removal of the human from the ‘art’. If anything… it should be destroyed, the story told, and she should have her OWN instillation.

janbb's avatar

Here’s a question: who determines how much historic value something has? If you or I took exploitive photos of our children or grandchildren, who has the right to ask them to be destroyed? How famous does the creator have to be? Is all art of equal value? If Thomas Kincaid took the photos, should they be destroyed?

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin I’m not sure I can do that. I see your point but we don’t know the reason for his daughter’s reasoning. IF, and this is a big IF, Larry Rivers had sexually abused his daughters would it change your mind on the historical significance of the work. I am not saying this happened and not implying that I think it did. I am just saying we don’t know.

@gorillapaws I see your point, but if the “art” is something that is offensive to the object of the art, and the object was a child who had now power to stop the art being made, it should be that persons right to have it destroyed.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I looked up a bit more information and from what I’ve found, I think it should be destroyed. In the article posted by the OP, it says “He (Rivers) admitted, in the voiceover, that he made the film despite the “raised eyebrows” of his friends and the reluctance of his daughters.”

In another story, it states “Ms. Tamburlini said her father filmed his daughters every six months over at least five years for a body of work he titled “Growing.” If she objected, she said, she was called uptight and a bad daughter. When she confronted her father as a teenager about the films, she said he told her “my intellectual development had been arrested.” In 1981 Rivers edited the footage into a 45-minute film that he planned to show as part of an exhibition. The girls’ mother, Clarice Rivers, who also appears in parts of the film, intervened and stopped him.”

And in another story, “She (the daughter) told the New York Times that “Growing” contributed to her development of anorexia and that “It wrecked a lot of my life, actually.”

The things I bolded are why I think it should be destroyed. I would feel differently if this was somthing the girls wanted to do and wanted to participate in. From the sound of it though, they didn’t want to do it and their father forced them to. The fact theat their mother objected to it being shown really had me thinking about it because I think both parents should have to consent to using their children’s naked body in any documentary.

dpworkin's avatar

@missingbite It might make it more important. Supposing it were discovered that JFK had sexually abused Caroline. Should she have the right to suppress that information because it discomfits her?

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin If the work showed her underage nude body, yes. A photo of her in the garden, no.

chyna's avatar

I haven’t read the other responses yet, so I’ll probably just be saying what they did, but I do agree with @janbb. I think the women are being exploited, they were too young to agree to be painted in such a manner and to have known it would follow them the rest of their lives. Waiting until their deaths would be unacceptable to me.

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Response moderated (Off-Topic)
dpworkin's avatar

@missingbite Why? What’s the difference? The real difference, not the “hurt feelings of a dead person” difference.

cazzie's avatar

@missingbite didn’t the poster say it was about their breasts and genitals? even it didn’t show them extrovertly… getting CHILDREN to speak of these things…. and then they are later sorry they did so… I think that has to be respected…...

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

This is tougher than I picked up at first glance. The Tailiban thought they were in the right destroying the Buddhist statues, but destroying art is another question. I guess is it art?

cazzie's avatar

So… ‘art’ is now more important that a child’s right? OMG.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Rivers was an artist, but I honestly don’t think this is art. It was a documentary about growth and development. Documentaries are different from art in my opinion.

janbb's avatar

He is a well-respected and famous now-dead artist. It is a tough issue for me; the more I grapple with it, the more difficult it gets.

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie A child’s right to what? Interfere with scholarship for transient emotional reasons?

cazzie's avatar

We’re not talking about statues that have stood for a millennium..that have been put under UNESCO care….. we are talking about a couple of little girls that feel used by their father…..

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin Like I said, I don’t think I can take the feeling out of it and I’m not sure we should. What if it led to an art historian abusing his or her children because they viewed it?

dpworkin's avatar

Why are their feelings more important than history in the very long run, please?

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin she’s grown now…. and who is to say that if her father were alive now and knew of her feelings, he wouldn’t destroy it himself. and I’m sorry… ‘scholarship’?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin These are not random transient emotions – these are very valid emotions in response to what they deemed as an unacceptable usage of their bodies. I don’t know why ‘for the sake of art’ is an acceptable reason to excuse their father’s behavior.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin Think of the sexually abused children you worked with. What are their rights to avoid re-wounding? It’s complicated; not black and white.

dpworkin's avatar

Oh,so you choose ignorance over scholarship? Why are you dismissive of scholarship?

cazzie's avatar

shakes @missingbite ‘s hand because she’s very proud to agree.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin There are already numerous documentaries about growth and development, losing this one won’t hurt the academic world.

If an artist was sexually molesting a child and recording it, would you say that it has to be preserve because it’s art? This children had to do this against their will, if it would have happened today, he could have been charged with abusing his children.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir They are transient in the sense that these women will eventually die, but one hopes that the contents of the Library of Congress will not die.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@cazzie I haven’t seen the film, so I’m going into this blind. If it’s explicit, I’d say it isn’t art. If it was done in a respectful, age appropriate way, it might be art. This reminds me of trying to define obscene.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, what if he started documenting intimately them for some other reason after they’d become an adult at 18, and they said No. And the artist then brow beats them and intimidates them into complying anyway. And 20 years later they realize they had every right to say no, and not be forced into complying. Would the situation be any different?

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin how is ignorance the opposite of what is going on here… I can NOT see that this is pure scholarship…. if it were, he would have PROTECTED the identity of the contributors.

dpworkin's avatar

It is the thin edge of the wedge. Where do you stop, if some individual’s sentiment trumps history? Hitler’s kids could object to a lot of things that are in print, could they not?

janbb's avatar

@cazzie I don’t think the question is whether the film is scholarship, but that it is part of Rivers’ oeuvre and thus might be important for future art historians to view.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin It stops when the individual being used for the work was forced to do it.

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin Hitler’s children weren’t’ the subject of his exploits.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds Larry Rivers made only this one. That’s like saying there are plenty of landscapes, let’s sacrifice just one Kaspar David Friedrich painting..

cazzie's avatar

@janbb that might be the case the the identity of his subject should have then be protected.

dpworkin's avatar

Supposing the woman whose vulva Courbet had painted in The Origin of The World had objected later in life. Should that painting have been destroyed? Why not?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin Yes, and he made it against the will of his minor children. He forced them to show their breasts and genitals, talk about what they were feeling and if boys were noticing their body. Sounds like sexual abuse to me, not art and honestly not a legitimate documentary. If partipants are forced, can you really expect the results to be valid?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin Was she an adult at the time when he drew it?

janbb's avatar

Where there is a power discrepancy and especially coercion of children, it is a valid question to raise.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds It “sounds like it” to you is a good enough reason to destroy an historical document? I’m glad you’re not the archivist.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin What kind of a historical document is it, really? Other than it was made and there was a history of this…it’s about relativity, I suppose…what point is there to this documentary? And before you say who am I to decide what art has a point, let me ask you what parent gets to decide to use their kids as subjects and then hides behind art as an excuse? What if these pics are explicit or pointless or pornographic? Why are they different just because this man deemed himself an artist? What if I don’t deem him as such. Why do other tapes taken of kids against their will destroyed or not even shown in court? What if the person on trial said it was art, should he be aquitted?

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin no one would have know whose vulva those where… and these kids were MINORS when this was done.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir We don’t know. For the sake of argument, say that she was 16. Do you know the painting? Are you willing to lose it? She’s dead. He’s dead. The painting still lives. Must it be killed for political incorrectness?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin How is this a historical document? It is a film a father forced his children to partipate in about the growth of their bodies. They growth of their bodies is not a significatn part of history unless there was something abnomal about it that scientist would have wanted to study. If that was the case, the father wouldn’t have been the one doing the documentation.

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin ‘she’s dead’? then she takes no offence… your argument is mute.

gorillapaws's avatar

@cazzie I think the fact that it’s his daughters might be an important detail for an art historian to know 400 years from now wouldn’t it?

I can think of too many instances in history when the moral temperament of the day passed judgment on something, destroyed it, and now history will never know what the truth really is. Just think, if this gets destroyed now, in 400 years, people may come to believe that Rivers was a child pornographer, without this record, it will be impossible for them to review the “evidence” and decide for themselves.

dpworkin's avatar

I am sorry. If you don’t understand how the contents of an archive are historical documents you have stumped me.

janbb's avatar

@Seaofclouds As stated above, it is a part of the artist’s oeuvre and thus potentially of scholarly significance.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin Yeah, but in this case the person is still alive…I don’t get how ‘we’ll all die’ is relevant. You will die someday too and what does it matter that you thought it art? And just because something got into a random archive does not make it a historical document – this can still be argued.

cazzie's avatar

I don’t care if he was the UNCLE….. SHE has a problem with it. She was a minor…. she has a voice… and SHE could do alot of good to answer this whole issue if she put in an instillation of her own on the subject.

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie I have no idea what that means. It would seem to me that my argument is strengthened. Everybody dies, including Larry’s kids.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That is precisely the argument: the right of future generations to understand an important artist fully, vs the right of someone to feel better for a few years.

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin well, then… I guess, because YOU die, you have no rights during your lifetime either….???

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie That is a flawed argument called the fallacy of reductio ad absurdum and really has no place in a dignified discussion.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin What line do we draw then for what artists can use? Do artists get free reign to film anything they want regardless of how they do it all in the name of art?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I just pictured it if it was my sex organs splashed all over for everyone to see. (Please stifle the laughter). I don’t think I would think it was art.

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin well double….reductio ad absurdum on you too…. WTF.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds It might be better to regulate what artists can do in future. What Larry did was indefensible. But it’s done. Why should it now be destroyed because in retrospect we disapprove of his motives?

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janbb's avatar

She is still unhappy with the idea of the film being around after she has died. I am beginning to posit a potential solution. Suppose that she and the archive owners – now NYU – together come up with a policy of fair use or access to the film either now or after she has died. Perhaps the policy would be that it can never be shown publicly but would be available to scholars for viewing on an individual basis. Also, suppose that part of the record of the film was a documentation of the history of its making and that it was objected to by the subjects of the film. That would strengthen the historical value of it, in my book. Do you think such a solution is valid?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin You didn’t answer the question. Where is the line? It should be destroyed because the victims of his abuse want it to be destroyed. If an artist raped someone and taped it without their consent and then decided to call it art and a documentary, does that me we should preserve it for all to see because he did it “for art”?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

At what ages is it inappropriate to portray full nudity? Give me a range and explain why?

Is there anything shameful about these images? Is the human body shameful at certain ages, and not others?

dpworkin's avatar

@Janbb such solutions are made every day. We regulate, we do not destroy.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin Well yes, I know, and I suspect this is what will eventually happen here. But it has been an evolution in my thinking through the discussion.

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gorillapaws's avatar

@janbb ” Perhaps the policy would be that it can never be shown publicly but would be available to scholars for viewing on an individual basis.”

This was my interpretation of what NYU’s intent was. I certainly don’t think they should be showing the work publicly, but keeping it around in the archives for future scholarship is a fundamentally different thing.

missingbite's avatar

It is a person’s wish. It shouldn’t matter if they are alive or not. That is why we honor the wishes of the deceased as to not cremating their body. They will not feel it or know it happened but we don’t do it because of their wishes.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@janbb If the daughters were willing to do that, it would be fine. It seems like they are completely against it being shown ever though, so I doubt they will want to compromise.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds I reply the same way to you. The line is drawn at destruction. Regulation is permissible, even to be wished for. Once you destroy something it is gone forever.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin So then you don’t care what means an artist uses to get their work? That is my question. I get that you are against destruction, but shouldn’t there be lines as to the means of obtaining the film? I feel that victims of a crime should have the right to have the “work” destroyed because they were used against their will. That is my answer to the question.

nikipedia's avatar

How is this even a debate? The subject did not give consent. This is exploitation. The end.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds I do care. I care more about the integrity of the historical record. No artist should ever do that to his kids again. It was hateful. I never defended it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Consent is not a requirement for art. Ask any photojournalist.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Seaofclouds I don’t think anyone who studies art would call the rapist scenario art. Obviously, the film department of NYU believes this to be art, and that seems like a reasonable litmus test.

janbb's avatar

Expanding what I said before, it could be of more value to history to preserve it with the discussion of the coercive and abusive nature of its creation, than to destroy it.

kevbo's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, photojournalists aren’t artists, and consent is required unless there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy.

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia if we followed your reasoning we would have to destroy every negative and print by Weegee. Are you willing to do that?

nikipedia's avatar

@janbb, why does the piece have to be preserved for the discussion to happen?

@dpworkin: I don’t know who that is.

dpworkin's avatar

@kevbo Explain to me in simple terms how Weegee wasn’t an artist, please.

chyna's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Not all of those photojournalists are really artists. The ones that pop out of bushes to get a picture of, well of Britney Spears bush is not what I would call an artist.

kevbo's avatar

@dpworkin, explain to me in simple terms how Weegee was a photojournalist, please.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photojournalism

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin I care more about the victims, so that’s where we see things differently. I don’t think such films should even be acknowledged as art and worth preserving.

@gorillapaws Perhaps NYU wouldn’t consider it art, I was using that as a stronger point about the abuse aspect. What Rivers did to his children is abuse and I don’t think it should be acknowledged as art.

On a side note, while I completely feel like it should be destroyed, I’m pretty sure that it won’t be. If NYU and the daughters don’t come to an agreement, NYU will be free to do whatever they want with it once the daughter’s die (unless the daughters get a legal order to destroy it).

janbb's avatar

@nikipedia You’ve got it backward; I am trying to find a way to preserve the piece as part of Rivers’ work, but put it in a moral context that is valid and acceptable to his daughter. Because I do feel like @dpworkin that we are on a slippery slope when we start to destroy art.

nikipedia's avatar

@janbb: I don’t think it’s a slippery slope at all. I will gladly stand by the position that when art exploits a specific person who is unambiguously depicted in the art who either never consented or relinquished consent, it should not exist or should be destroyed.

gorillapaws's avatar

@nikipedia so all artistic work done of slaves should be destroyed as well? They weren’t able to give consent?

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia So the transient feelings of one individual trumps the whole length of history? You should know better. You are a scientist.

janbb's avatar

I am looking for a solution that will reconcile the two.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin I don’t think that the destruction of this particular ‘documentary’ results in ‘trumping the whole length of history’ – can you be any more melodramatic?

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m the one who is being melodramatic. Ahahahaha! I give up.

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin, my work would proceed much more quickly and effectively if I did not have to obtain informed consent from my research subjects. It would add so much to the literature if I could take hippocampal slices from just one undergradate! Why does that person’s feeling of wanting to stay alive trump the whole breadth of science?

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia You have just ignored everything I said above about regulation.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin Yes, because you’re speaking of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Just because some of us are speaking to the feelings of the person in question doesn’t mean we’re being melodramatic or aren’t able to see your point.

gorillapaws's avatar

@nikipedia so we should destroy the work of the prison guard experiment and not use any of the data because it was unethically obtained? The damage is done, shouldn’t we learn what we can from it?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@janbb As long as the daughter wants it destroyed and never shown to anyone, I doubt there will be a solution. It will either stay the way it is until they die and then NYU can do what they want without then trying to stop them or the daughter will attempt to get a court order to have it destroyed. I honestly don’t think they will reach a compromise.

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin, I don’t see how regulation factors into the scenario I described.

@gorillapaws: No, I think we can retain what we learned from it without continuing to exploit the participants. Similarly, as I suggested above, we can use the existence of this piece of art to discuss coercion etc. without continuing to display the art itself.

gorillapaws's avatar

@nikipedia what if one of the participants wanted the data destroyed because it’s existence brought him ongoing psychological distress? Should we honor his wishes?

nikipedia's avatar

@gorillapaws: No, but I think it would be reasonable to thoroughly de-identify his data and destroy any record of his having been associated with the study.

tinyfaery's avatar

I hold no belief in art for arts sake. The whole institution of art is a bunch of B.S. Anyone can call anything art, for good or bad.

If the subject wants the photos destroyed, so be it. One less piece of “art” amounts to absolutely nothing. The world will not be the worse for it.

I have no interest in defending my opinion, do don’t bother addressing me.

dpworkin's avatar

The US Air Force still uses the data from Nazi experiments wherein Jews were drowned in frigid water and their reactions were observed. Should those data be off limits? Why or why not?

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Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws Research studies are a bit different than a film or piece of art. The knowledge of either one won’t be destroyed, but the work itself can be. Destroying the actual data won’t destroy the knowledge of the results and won’t stop peole from discussing it. Just as destroying this film won’t destroy the knowledge of it or people from discussing it. The only similarity would be that people wouldn’t be able to read the original research study or view the original film. There can be documentation of the work without the actual work being shown.

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin, the difference is that data can be deidentified and art cannot.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that this film be exhibited. @nikipedia Those were murdered Jews. I’m sure we can link the records to their names. The Nazis were meticulous record-keepers. Do we destroy the data, or use them to save the lives of endangered airmen?

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin: Destroy the link between the individual and the data point.

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia We can’t! It’s already recorded! Shall we destroy all the documentation?

rebbel's avatar

The girls obviously don’t give a fuck about his artistic intentions…, they feel that they do not wish to be on show publicly again after they already had to show themselves to their father.
If i was a daughter of that guy, i would cut the images in pieces, no matter if some people in the art world would object to it.

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin: You can easily destroy the link between an individual and a data point. I have done it myself. I am not sure what the problem is.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Seaofclouds if this work is irrevocably destroyed, then future generations will NEVER be able to resolve certain questions about how far the documentary went. Reading accounts of the work would be an insufficient tool for making such fuzzy decisions. We have descriptions of ancient books that have been lost to time, but they are a completely insufficient replacement for the originals themselves.

dpworkin's avatar

I know their names, @nikipedia. How do you destroy my knowledge?

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Dutchess_III's avatar

I wonder what the reaction would have been if he made it today, the instant he made that film “public.” I think we protect our kids better than we did 30 years ago…..

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin: I am starting to get the sense you are being intentionally obtuse. What I am suggesting is this: if a record exists linking the identities of specific people to a study that is ethically objectionable, destroy that record.

If you have memorized the name of every person who was experimented upon in the holocaust and each data point associated with each person, you present quite a conundrum indeed. However, I know some memory researchers who would be very interested to put you in an fMRI… with appropriate informed consent, of course.

missingbite's avatar

We have gotten off the subject of this being a child.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@missingbite Because that never mattered to some of the above.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws I understand that. The thing is, we don’t need a replacement for this. It doesn’t teach us anything and, in my opinion, it holds no value for our society. It’s etiher art or a documentary. Either way, it doesn’t need to be seen and studied. It is a video of children being forced to show their privates to their father. It’s abuse, plain and simple. It is not art and has no reason to be preserved (once again, in my opinion).

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia Supposing the records were in the hand of Joseph Goebbels?

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin: Again, I get the sense you are being intentionally obtuse. Joseph Goebbels has been dead since 1945. That does not seem to be a reasonable concern.

dpworkin's avatar

Then why do we preserve the original specimen of John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration?

nikipedia's avatar

Maybe I need to start drinking coffee again. You lost me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

What I don’t get is how this documentary is comparable to the Declaration or the Holocaust.

dpworkin's avatar

Historical records have intrinsic value beside that data they contain. One doesn’t need coffee to understand that.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Who gets to choose what is or could become important to scholars?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin What data does this film contain that needs to be preserved? The fact that he filmed this and all of the controversy around it can still be documented. No need to keep the original film that filmed the abuse of his children and caused them harm.

dpworkin's avatar

No need to keep the original copy of the Declaration of Independence. We all know what it looks like and there are millions of facsimiles.

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin: Individuals. Again, science would progress much more quickly if we did not need to obtain informed consent or treat our subjects ethically. However, in the interest of individual people’s feelings at the expense of science and knowledge and advancement, we are bound by ethical constraints.

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia Yeah, now! I fully agree, and have said above more than once that Larry Rivers should never have been allowed to make that document.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know, I think he used his daughters just to create a controversy, just like this one. What kind of a father would put his desire to get attention over the wishes of his kids? Who the hell cares about watching the changes in a pubescent girl except a pedophile? I also wonder if he had a son.

dpworkin's avatar

He was an asshole, but he was an important asshole so we are stuck with it, or we start down a path of great danger.

missingbite's avatar

@Dutchess_III He did have a son and no document on their “growth.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

@missingbite Hmmm. Didn’t it occur to him that the world was breathlessly waiting to see his son’s gentiles develop? Why just the girls? Dude a selfish sick-o.

missingbite's avatar

@Dutchess_III I agree! Some may call it art but I never will.

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Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin Since you agree that he should have never been allowed to make it, why should we then reward his bad behavior?

dpworkin's avatar

He’s dead. What’s the reward?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Seaofclouds “It doesn’t teach us anything and, in my opinion, hold no value for our society.”

I’m not sure how you could possibly know this without seeing the film. Clearly, people who are experts in the field and have actually seen the film believe this to be important. If I were to have read a description of “The Blue Lagoon” I might have formed the opinion that it’s simply pornography. These things have to be seen to be evaluated, which can never happen if it’s destroyed.

missingbite's avatar

@gorillapaws Are you saying we are better off as a society because of “The Blue Lagoon?” Sorry, I couldn’t resist! LOL

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin The reward is people like you defending his ‘art’ over the people he used.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws I feel it has nothing to teach us because there are already documentaries about puberty, growth, and development and the fact that these girls were forced to participate invalidates anything they said. They could have been saying what they thought their father wanted to hear. Therefore, it is not a valid study. Also, if there was something abnormal about their growth and development, then medical professionals would ahve been interested in studying them and we would be hearing about valid medical studies and not a father’s abuse.

Is this suppose to be a piece of art or a documentary because people seem to be going back and forth with it.

@dpworkin The reward is people classifying it as a valid piece of art and American history.

Likeradar's avatar

I read a different article and discussion about the issue than the one @janbb linked to.

By her account, the daughter and her sister was forced by her father to talk about and display her developing body when she was a child while he videotaped it. It’s essentially child abuse being called “art.”

Destroy it.

dpworkin's avatar

How does that “reward” a dead man? I’m sorry, I don’t follow that reasoning.
@Likeradar And the data from the Nazi experiments? Destroy them?

janbb's avatar

I still would like to see a way to honor the daughter’s feelings while preserving the work.

I think once you go down the route of determining whether or not it is a work of art, you are on the path of philistinism and censorship. He is an artist; ipso facto, what he creates is art and of value to his scholars if not the wider world, whether highly objectionable or not. Elephant dung anyone?

However, since the daughter was coerced and is alive and objecting, it is hard for me, as a feminist and abuse victim, to not feel that her wishes are primary. Oy vey – my art history librarian side is fighting with my feminist side!

Likeradar's avatar

@dpworkin I am talking about the sexual abuse of this particular child, not Nazi data.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin I’m sure you’d agree that, to an artist, their post-humous fame and continued discussion of them are very important matters. Again, why compare this to the Nazi experiments? These girls being coerced is nothing new – the Holocaust was, at least, a monumental historical perspective on a huge genocide – NOT the same thing.

dpworkin's avatar

@Likeradar Explain the difference. Those Jews were murdered.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I am talking about particular Jews in a particular series of experiments from which the data are still being studied. That’s not the Holocaust, it is a perfect analogy to what we have here: The fruits of an immoral, destructive practice. Do we destroy the fruits or protect them?

Likeradar's avatar

@dpworkin This question is pretty specific and clear. Your question is valid and would probably make an excellent question but in my mind it’s only tangentially connected to @janbb‘s question, and not what I entered this thread to discuss or debate.

anartist's avatar

I feel that the preserving the historical and artistic legacy of Larry Rivers is of greater importance. The university agreed to have the films withheld until after the daughters’ deaths. Perhaps it could be changed until after their childrens’ deaths, to spare sensibilities. It is quite possible that Larry Rivers and his work may fall out of favor by then and no one will look at them at all. By withholding them for a time the library is doing what is often done with sensitive historical papers and acting conscientiously and appropriately to preserve the dignity and reputation of the daughters.

Although @Keybo has an interesting point—sort of like the “Erased deKooning” by Rauschenberg —except she isn’t Rauschenberg.

@Adirondackwannabe Buddhist statues aren’t art?

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, sorry I distracted you. Don’t reply to the parts that you imagine don’t fit the parameters of the question, even though they are perfectly analogous.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Likeradar, @dpworkin is making an argument from analogy. It’s perfectly valid in this context.

Likeradar's avatar

@gorillapaws Thank you, I understand the concept analogy. I don’t see much connection between the issues connected to the mass murder of millions of people and this particular case. I am not asking anyone else to not bring it up, I just mentioned that it’s not what I came here to discuss seeing as I think it’s only tangentially connected. If that’s hard to understand, I don’t think the problem lies with me.

dpworkin's avatar

Not mass murder of millions. Discrete murder of hundreds to get data about human survival in cold water.

dpworkin's avatar

(Maybe if you read the thread you wouldn’t be misstating my arguments so egregiously.)

janbb's avatar

I think we are getting sidelined here.

ipso's avatar

How gleeful Rivers is. A key function of art is to challenge the very definition of art, and cause debate like we have here. By that measure alone the art is not only “art”, it is successful art.

It should not be destroyed; it should be used as evidence to convict the father and set an example/precedent if one does not already exist.

The only one who can legally destroy it is the owner. Seems to me she has a strong case to sue for an injunction. Long live the Rule of Law!

Likeradar's avatar

@dpworkin If you would like to continue to be insulting to me, please take it to PM as @janbb has started a very interesting thread that it would be a pity for you to derail any further.

nikipedia's avatar

@dpworkin: You know how sometimes you mention that you’d like to be more agreeable and pleasant during debates? This is a good time to practice.

Also, you seem to be setting up a false dichotomy: either we preserve the art (or data, or whatever) and necessarily exploit individuals, or we destroy it in order to preserve their feelings. I have offered a compromise wrt scientific data (deidentify). With the art, I agree that no real compromise can be made so long as the art itself is on display.

janbb's avatar

@nikipedia It is not on display; it is part of the archives.

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia It’s not even on display. It will simply become available for qualified scholars to study after the deaths of the concerned individuals. And how was I impolite by asking that someone explain his faulty reasoning? He hasn’t yet explained it.

nikipedia's avatar

While I personally find this to be an acceptable compromise, the person in question—the only person whose opinion matters—does not. So, I continue to agree with her that this should be destroyed. The discussion can continue without the piece being available for observation.

And at the risk of derailing, I think some of us can find your tone condescending and abrasive, which is not particularly conducive to a productive discussion. Which this has been so far, I think.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know, even if it isn’t displayed until after their deaths, you’re still going to have their children and grandchildren having to say, “That’s my mom/gramma.”

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anartist's avatar

@ipso good thing he willed it to the university instead of his daughters.

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rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Now that NYU is no longer accepting the art piece, where is the art headed now?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Likeradar an analogy is a different thing than an “argument from analogy”. One is a literary device, the other is a logically valid method of forming arguments.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I did not read all the responses but I would like to say that if this man wasn’t an artist but made his teenage daughters take their clothes off so he could take pictures of their genitalia, he would be arrested for sexual abuse. However, because he’s calling it art, it’s okay for it to be on display and he would receive no backlash if he were alive today. I think that just because someone calls something art doesn’t mean he/she should be exempt from the law.

I also have a hard time believing that if he really wanted to document the growth of the adolescent female body, he couldn’t find a willing volunteer with parents willing to cooperate. To use his own daughters against their will is not okay and, honestly, I think it compromises any integrity this piece might have had.

anartist's avatar

Have not the nude photos Lewis Carroll took of little girls, including perhaps Alice Liddell, been preserved? Then why not this?

dpworkin's avatar

@nikipedia and @Likeradar.

Kindly give me a consistent, logical reason why the fruits of one crime should be preserved, while the fruits of another crime should be destroyed, and I will thank you and concede that I have been wrong.

Likeradar's avatar

This is essentially a repeat of a question someone asked on another discussion about this issue, but I think it’s interesting so I’ll ask it here.

If videos belonging to just an ordinary Joe Schmoe (not a famous artist) featuring his pre-pubescent daughter naked and being made to talk about her developing body were found, would there be any question that the videos should be destroyed?

edit: or what @katawa said :)

gorillapaws's avatar

@Likeradar actually, they would probably be preserved as evidence.

anartist's avatar

@rebbel if she did chop it up, would you consider it “performance art”?

Spider's avatar

I apologize if I missed someone else’s post of the update on the original article, but:

Postscript: July 16, 2010

After publication of this Op-Ed article, New York University told The Times that it had decided not to accept the Larry Rivers film “Growing” as part of the archives it purchased from the Larry Rivers Foundation. Though the university had reached its agreement with the foundation on Tuesday, the arrangement had not been publicly announced.

As far as my thoughts on this matter, the fact is that someone owns videos of children. What would the situation be if those sisters thought the tapes were already destroyed? Would they not still carry around the same memory of being forced to make the films? The unfortunate thing is that destroying the tapes will not heal those who feel victimized – any crime that was committed happened over 30 years ago, and the perpetrator is no longer with us.

gorillapaws's avatar

Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s say that tomorrow we discovered an authentic document describing an account of a previously unknown work of Leonardo da Vinci’s that suggested that he created an immoral painting of a young girl. Let’s say the work itself was destroyed, so all we have to go on was this person’s description of the work.

How could we possibly thoroughly evaluate the artistic merits of this work now without the piece itself? We would perhaps study the moral temperament of the time against our own to try to understand how to interpret the 3rd party account. There’s no substitute for the primary source when conducting research.

janbb's avatar

@Spider Thanks for the update! That is very interesting.

Likeradar's avatar

@Spider Oh, great update! I was wondering why every piece of shit an artist labels “art” needs to be taken seriously. His other art can be appreciated without evidence of a disgusting crime being lumped in with it. These videos should be, I think, looked at as evidence of a crime that a sick mind labeled art.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Likeradar I’m considering it art because professional art historians who have actually seen the work are calling it that, not because the artist sees it that way.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws How do we know who viewed it? Is there anything that says who has seen it and declared that it is actually a piece of art?

Val123's avatar

CAN I CALL A TIME OUT FOR JUST A SEC??!!
This is getting really hairy. Can we just take a moment and post a vote of either “For Destroying” or “Against Destroying”?

I’m not going to include my vote for reasons that I hope are obvious in a moment…..

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Val123 I’m for destroying it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Do NOT Destroy

And if you do, then destroy all images depicting naked holocaust victims as well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Whew! Thank you @Val123! It’s like you read my mind. I really wanted to to that, but didn’t at only 843 points, I feltl like I have enough seniority to call a vote…....

janbb's avatar

It sounds like most are for destroying, four or so are for preserving and I’m jumping back and forth but mainly for preserving with restrictions.

But we should probably have a show of hands.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes absolutely preserve with restrictions. I don’t want my kids to see any nudity on cartoon network.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

I vote to destroy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But why preserve it at all? For what reason? This is about the daughter, NOT the artist..

gorillapaws's avatar

I think voting is absurd. As Thoreau put it: “Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Hm. I just don’t see the connection. The holocaust wasn’t “art.”

gorillapaws's avatar

@Seaofclouds it is my understanding that the head of NYU’s film department has seen the work. Perhaps this is an incorrect assumption, although I would find it hard to believe that they would have held such an unpopular position if they didn’t see any value in the work (or hadn’t seen it at all).

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws From what I read, part of the agreement when they purchased it (as part of a larger collection) was that they would not show it until after the girls had passed. I’m not saying they haven’t seen it, I’m just asking if we know who actually has seen it and decided that it is in fact a piece of art (and not just a piece of work that was done by a known artist).

gorillapaws's avatar

@Seaofclouds that’s a fair point. I guess though that even if this ultimately doesn’t qualify as art (to art historians) there is still value in studying the work that the artist considered art that actually wasn’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gorillapaws I called for a vote just to figure out exactly where every one stands, not necessarily to determine who was in the majority.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Dutchess_III It’s a fact of historical reference. It’s not about the girls, or the artist. It’s about the artwork and what it says to our legacy in history.

What one society finds as repugnant, the next may find intriguing.

We’re slicing up humans and displaying them in art museums now. There was a woman who displayed her aborted fetus as artwork about a decade ago. I saw a man masterbating in an art installation last year. The crowd applauded when he came. I walked away in disgust, at the display, and at the crowds reaction. But regardless of my disgust, I refuse to place my personal morality above anyone else. I feel the same about Maplethorpe. But if it has been recorded, then it has historical value that speaks to our state of the human condition as we endure it in the present era. I cannot deny the future from acting as witness to our vulgarities.

cazzie's avatar

Relevancy to Context! wholly crap,....

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That’s gross!
But, even so, the point is, in all of the examples above there were no unwilling humans being forced to be the object of the art. Would if be ok to put a man and a pubescent boy in a display, and have one hold a gun to boy’s head and make him be the masturbatory one? The fetus is just poor taste, insensitive, but he fetus was in no position to object, so you can consider that point moot.
And slicing up humans is being done, I assume, with their consent while they were living or it would be illegal…dessication of a corpse.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@dpworkin I believe you overstate the historical value of this one film. There is adequate documentation of the stages of physical development including detailed photography of subjects shown in a way that does not readily identify the subjects.

Not everything done by an artist has artistic merit or historical value. If that were not true, we would feel obligated to conserve photographs of their bowel movements because they were artists and this was their special creation.

Given the circumstances, the permanent removal from display or even the destruction of the film, I suggest is no great loss, despite your protestations.

“Methinks he doth protest too much” To misquote Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

gorillapaws's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence but if the artist himself considered something to be a work of art, isn’t that enough to make it worth preserving for future scholarship? I don’t believe anyone in this thread is advocating that this thing be released to the box offices, or on dvd’s. The point is that if this is destroyed, hundreds of years from now, art historians studying Rivers will have no way to make up their own minds about this work. Essentially, you and others are advocating to make that decision now that those future scholars will never have a legitimate need for that work.

I simply think it’s shortsighted. This was clearly an important work to Rivers (he was willing to cause a lot of pain in his family to produce it over the course of many years). This fact in-and-of-itself makes it a notable part of his body of work (regardless of how successfully it accomplished his artistic goals). As long as access is carefully limited to only academic scholarship of River’s work by qualified people, I think it’s reasonable to keep in archives where it isn’t really doing an harm.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gorillapaws I do NOT think he has the right to exploit his children for the sake of what he calls art. There were other, innocent human beings involved in this against their will, and that can NOT be overlooked for the sake of “Art,” or anything else. If it can, then the pedophiles just have to claim all the kiddie pics are “art.” Where do you draw the line on human’s rights? What makes his right more important than his daughter’s?

dpworkin's avatar

To demean the particular artwork is to beg the question. Let us stipulate that art historians world wide find it to be a stunning masterpiece. Now, what is the principle on which it should be destroyed?

Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo conducted experiments in the 1960s on the nature of authority which would never be approved today by an ethics committee. The Tuskegee institute allowed syphilitic Black men to die in order to trace the progress of the disease. Do we destroy the Zimbardo, Milgram and Tuskegee data? Why not?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Dutchess_III There is a bit of a debate going on currently whether or not these sliced humans are from the Chinese prison system, executed for the very purpose of the displays.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

The children did not give consent, it should be destroyed. This is already so controversial and well-documented that the pieces do not need to remain to in order to be studied. There is nothing to be studied. Going through puberty? We already know all about that. As other people have already pointed out, anyone else, who wasn’t a famous artist, would be jailed if they did something like this.

It is not art, there was no consent, end of discussion.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Well, it would be illegal in the US. I don’t know about China. Given their dismal human rights record, it wouldn’t surprise me if they did something like that.

@dpworkin That is atrocious behavior. It does NOT justify the actions of this artist. Nothing anyone else has done justifies it. There is NO medical value to his films. There is no value at all except to voyeurs.

Also, don’t you find it odd that he only did that with his daughters, BOTH of them (why wasn’t just one enough?) and not his son? Isn’t the changing of a boy’s penis into a man just as “important to art?” For the sake of sick art, I would think capturing both sexes would really round it out. But he didn’t do that.

janbb's avatar

@dpworkin Although I agree in many ways with your conclusions about destroying art, I’m not sure that equating the positive results of unethically conducted scientific experiments with a piece of one man’s art is a productive analogy. The scientific experiments benefit humankind’s knowledge and well-being; preserving the film may aid in understanding Larry Rivers. It seems a bit of a stretch.

dpworkin's avatar

@kevbo Weegee was a photojournalist because he took photographs meant to be published which were indeed published in newspapers, he was paid by the hour and the work belonged to his employer. Your turn.

dpworkin's avatar

OK @janbb supposing there were some trivial research that broke ethical rules. Destroy the data? Why or why not? And on what overriding principle?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Because people are more important than art! @dpworkin! That’s the principal.

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DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin I understand the point you’re trying to make in associating important data gained through possibly unethical situations. However, art and important data are not the same. Important data gained, even through unethical means, can serve to make the world (potentially) a better place in the future. “Art”, like this, can not.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws You siad, “This was clearly an important work to Rivers (he was willing to cause a lot of pain in his family to produce it over the course of many years).”

It was impornant enough for him to put the time and effort into doing, but from what I read, when he was ready to show it at an exhibition in 1981, it was not important enough for him to go against his wife when she intervened and stopped it from being shown at the exhibition.

dpworkin's avatar

@Dutchess_III Who made that rule, and who endorses it? There are billions of people on earth, and millions of them die and are born every day. They are all pretty much accidental. What makes them the least bit “important”?

dpworkin's avatar

@Dutchess_III Just as a thought experiment, if killing you would save two Haitian babies, should we kill you? Why not? Aren’t they twice as important as one of you?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin If you’re going to argue that people aren’t important, that their personal feelings don’t matter, then surely you can understand that a mere video absolutely doesn’t matter. If people don’t matter, then then there’s no reason to study or preserve the video at all. Especially because it is, after all, a video of people.

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, so I may not claim that ideas trump individuals?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@dpworkin Destroying data already collected that no longer or never met with ethical standards does not erase what was learned. Even if the data were destroyed, the knowledge persists.

Clearly, your analogy is not informative or relevant.

Elevating the one film to some kind of masterwork is likely to be linked to the desire of some to preserve it despite the good reasons to remove it from view for a few centuries or to destroy it, at the request of the living subjects of the abuse imposed on them by its creator.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin You can claim that, absolutely. But it wouldn’t make much sense to do so. Ideas come from people. If people are not important, then neither are the ideas that come from them. Which means this video isn’t important at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dpworkin Re killing me to save two babies (I wouldn’t care what race,) that is an ethical delimma that doesn’t belong in this question. No one lost their lives in the pursuit of art (And as @dpworkin comparing “art” and “important data” are apples and oranges) no one lost something they can’t get back, except for those poor girls, who lost their dignity and were betrayed by their father. The closest they can come to getting anything back is to know the video is destroyed so their embarrassment and shame won’t been seen by the rest of the world, including their children and grandchildren after they’re gone.

dpworkin's avatar

This has become tedious. When someone can make a cogent argument that follows the rules of rhetoric, wake me up.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dpworkin So people and their feelings and trauma just don’t have any place in this discussion. That is sad.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin Many people have brought up valuable points, just as you have. Why does it matter if this piece is preserved or not? You didn’t answer anyone that asked you that specific question – and multiple people did. Why, truly, does it matter? What difference will it make, in the long run, if it is preserved?

This man was a famous artist, yes. Why does knowing about him and his life matter more than the fact that he forced his daughters to do something that they did not want to do? Simply because he was famous?

Dutchess_III's avatar

And which part of rhetoric are you referring to?
1.in writing or speech) the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast.
2.the art or science of all specialized literary uses of language in prose or verse, including the figures of speech.
3.the study of the effective use of language.
4.the ability to use language effectively.
5.the art of prose in general as opposed to verse.
6.the art of making persuasive speeches; oratory.
7.(in classical oratory) the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience.
8.(in older use) a work on rhetoric.

dpworkin's avatar

@Dreamer The particular piece does not matter. I am defending the principle that the data on which we rely for scholarly development of coherent history are not to be trifled with for sentimental reasons. The thing Larry Rivers made, was in my opinion an objectionable piece of shit, but it is not up to me or to you whether it should be excised from the archive.
@Dutchess_III Congratulations on learning to use the dictionary. Now demonstrate that you can draw understanding from facts.

anartist's avatar

preserve [if you are still voting]
That is, unless they become the property of the daughter.
Then it is her choice, but I wish she would watch it once before she throws it on the fire.
Perhaps she would like it more than she thought she would.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I understand what you’re saying, I honestly do. But this “art”, in my opinion, does not fall under the category of data we rely on for scholarly development of coherent history. This was not a major war – which needs to be remembered for so many reasons that creating a list would be exhausting. This is a video, of his underage naked daughters, who were forced to participate in something they did not want to do. It serves no purpose, like other very important historical data does. I do agree, for the most part, with the principle you’re defending, but I simply do not think it applies in this case.

@anartist Why would the daughters want to watch something that they were forced to do and clearly, to this day, makes them extremely uncomfortable? If a famous artist raped someone, filmed it and called it art, would you still wish the victim would “watch it once” before throwing it out?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I find the work of Thomas Kinkade quite sickening and repulsive. It should be stricken from the historical record… why? Because all those cute little cottages make me want to puke, and I can’t bear the burden of foisting it upon future generations.

dpworkin's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Thank you for your civil disagreement. Emotionally I am on your side, intellectually I am on the side of preservation on the chance that one day the piece may be seen as important in ways we don’t understand now.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That’s different from this situation. It’s not about us being repulsed by it, it’s about the women who were forced to partipiate in it wanting it destroyed. I believe they should be able to have it destroyed because they were victims in the making of the film. If Thomas Kinkade forced you to participate in a video and you wanted it destroyed, I would support that. I wouldn’t support it just because you didn’t like his work. If this was someone else requesting to have the video destroyed, I wouldn’t support it. I only support it because the victims want it destroyed.

gorillapaws's avatar

@DrasticDreamer History is littered with accounts of monks destroying the manuscripts of ancient Greek/Roman scholars in order to write prayer manuals. At the time they couldn’t see any value in the works, especially in the face of “infinitely more important things” like worshiping God.

The reality is that we are not equipped now to possibly know what future generations might need. Perhaps there will be important technology developed one day that will be able to analyze the film and shed new light on the material. I can’t really foresee this, but neither could the monks foresee how an ancient Roman account of history was of any use. However, I’m not so arrogant as to assume that my inability to foresee a use for something will in fact mean that there will never be a use for it.

@Seaofclouds so what about my earlier point about slaves being forced to be the subjects of art? Should those paintings be destroyed because they had no say?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@gorillapaws As I said earlier, the weight of things like important Roman accounts of history can not even be compared to this video. Trying to compare them is absolutely ridiculous. The Roman manuscripts were literally monumental – this video comes nowhere close to being that – and I am arrogant enough to assume that it never will. It is highly unlikely that this video will ever amount to anything important, that people can learn from. The only thing that can be taken away from it is “Wow, this was really fucked up.” So… Let’s keep it around to study? Pointless.

dpworkin's avatar

@DrasticDreamer You seemed to have missed the part where, whatever our opinion, we have no way to really know. Also, as a matter of principle, who gets to decide what gets kept?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Dutchess_III ” I do NOT think he has the right to exploit his children for the sake of what he calls art. ”

I think everyone in this thread is in 100% agreement on this point. If we could go back in time I think all of us would try to prevent this from ever being made. But it was made, and the fact remains that it’s part of Rivers work.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@gorillapaws If they wanted them destroyed because they were forced to do it, then yes, I say destoy the photos of them.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@dpworkin No, I agree. But there’s no way to really know if there’s a god or not either, but I still formed an opinion and beliefs about that. Highly unlikely – so I have no desire to preserve “teachings” based around a book that I happen to personally believe are extremely fucked up. Same thing. It serves no purpose.

And exactly – who gets to decide what is kept? That’s a two-way street. In this case, I say the victims get to decide.

dpworkin's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Really? You wouldn’t preserve the Dead Sea Scrolls? That’s not very romantic of you.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Okay, ignore my god comment. The Bible serves as a very important historical document. I was specifically referring more to the teachings, so that was a weak and stupid thing to say on my part. I apologize.

gorillapaws's avatar

@DrasticDreamer to the monks, there was no value in those manuscripts. To you there is no value in this film (which you haven’t seen by the way). Having 1000 years of advancement in human knowledge and understanding has allowed you to appreciate how foolish the monks really were. Who’s to say that in 1000 more years someone wouldn’t look back at the calls for the destruction of this work and think the same. There is a very strong possibility that they won’t, but it’s impossible for any of us to know that now.

kevbo's avatar

@DrasticDreamer (and @nikipedia), legally children can’t give consent. For all intents and purposes in this case, the parents were the ones who consented on behalf of their minor children. They (the dad in particular) were coercive in addition. The mom probably should have put her foot down in the matter.

I don’t think consent is a viable argument. If anything, it someone should decide if it is art or documentation/evidence of abuse and go from there.

@dpworkin, whatev. My point was that the comment about no need for consent or release was inaccurate and that art and photojournalism are two different disciplines. Photojournalism is frequently done in public spaces, so there is more commonly no need for consent or a signed release, and it’s misleading to conflate the two contexts. The comment wasn’t directed at you, and you misread my point.

dpworkin's avatar

@kevbo: This is what you said:

”@dpworkin, explain to me in simple terms how Weegee was a photojournalist, please.”

So I did. Now, what point did I miss?

kevbo's avatar

@dpworkin, That I was being rhetorical. Now go ahead and have the last word.

dpworkin's avatar

You are right. I thought you were asking me for an answer to the question.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin I don’t think the emotional and the intellectual are mutually exclusive here – I intellectually and emotionally oppose this – intellectually because this is about considering the living person. I understand you do not agree – I am not out to convince you. I think this has been a wonderful question with many different angles. I’ve been thinking about it all day – you mentioned earlier the idea of a slippery slope – well that happens to work both ways, does it not? If we assume that the destruction of this one video is a slippery slope towards some kind of an anti-art dystopia, then we can also assume that rape of one’s child (if recorded or written about or even simply spoken about in some kind of rap/speech) can be defended if the attacker/abuser calls it art.

Coloma's avatar

Simple.

People first things second.

The wishes of the adult child subject in question take precedence over preserving the illicitly documented growth of body parts of a minor child couched as an art form.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I quite agree with you. The facts are so unsettling that either point of view can be found objectionable on some bases. I am pleased this particular issue was mooted by the wise decision on the part of the archive not to accept the material, but I am still convinced that it is the most noxious of ideas which need protection, just as it is the least popular views which demand the protection of freedom of speech.

@Coloma where do you provide any room for nuance in your pronouncement?

anartist's avatar

Looks like the university made this all moot by rejecting this part of the archive. Now it no longer has any say in the preservation of this work. It seems a politically adroit way of handling this very ambiguous situation.

janbb's avatar

@anartist That NYU is one shmart university. They knew a political hot potato when they saw it.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t see a need for nuance.

A child was used in an inappropriate and manipulative manner.

It is her physical being on display and she has every right to keep it from the teeming masses.

There is zero historical value in this situation, gentalia grow every day like weeds.

Nothing of cosmic importance here.

Multiple wrongs don’t make a right.

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rpm_pseud0name's avatar

283 comments later, I finally figured out why this article & these comments had a familiar ring to it. This art project from a year ago stirred up some controversy. For those who don’t want to read the article, I’ll sum up- An artist looking to revamp his career, decided to make what he called a Rape Tunnel. Those who go inside, will be raped by him (the artist). He said he wanted to do something with a more physical/emotional impact on the audience that no artist has done. For some fun reading – read the comments in this article

I think this art project has a lot of similarities with what we are discussing here in this forum.

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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin Okay, if adults want to get raped willingly or want to masturbate in front of strangers, I don’t give a crap – NOT the same as exploiting children.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

I can’t possibly go back and read all this, as I’m coming late to the conversation – I see after the end of the article that NYU decided not to purchase this particular part of the collection, which I guess is a political cop out from a very dicey issue. Although, I think, personally that if the subject of the “documentary” wants it destroyed then it should be, I’m afraid that there’s legal precedence not to. We film people all the time doing things they’re not proud of, and this has previously been given the stamp of approval from our legal system. Heck I’d bet that mainstream stuff like National Geographic runs into this all the time.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You make an inarguable point.

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

You took the words right out of my mouth.

anartist's avatar

@rpmpseudonym the artist of ‘rape tunnel’ got sued for ‘punch your face’ after he broke someone’s nose so I suspect he’d be a little slow to rape someone. besides it is harder to jump someone’s bones as they crawl out of a tunnel than to punch the face of someone crawling out of a tunnel.

I much prefer the non-aggressive performance pieces like Vito Acconci’s jerking himself off under a platform where no one can see him and telling you all about it via loudspeaker

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@anartist – I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for everyone so early(those who read on after the article would already know), but I’m tired & want to get to bed, so I will let the little kitty out of the bag.

The Rape Tunnel article was the art piece. He never did any of it. The real art came from the comments on his article. Kind of like the comments that came from this post. All the artist wanted was to see the comments from people. They ranged from ‘who cares’ to ‘this guy should be shot to death’.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Would someone please tell me exactly what are the ages that the nude human body is deemed unfit for viewing? What? Between 3yrs-17yrs? When is it inappropriate to expose the human body to the public? And are there certain body types that should not be exposed regardless of age? Are there certain races? Are there certain physical conditions?

My point is, that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of at any age or any condition. It is fundamental to our human condition. And protecting its exposure from a public that has experienced 100% exposure to it seems absolutely ridiculous to me.

I honestly think that society as a whole, is not so much attempting to protect the well being of children, as much as we are attempting to prevent the lustful thoughts of others.

I cannot help the lustful and decadent thoughts of others. If society wasn’t so fearful of shame, and ready to pass judgment upon thought, perhaps we wouldn’t have such lustful and decadent thoughts towards perceived societal taboos.

My psychology teacher, God rest his soul, said the best thing we could do for society would be to put up a poster in every classroom of a completely nude male and female with average body types at various ages. The mystery is gone. The kiddy snickering and self righteous judgment will vanish. Society is thus numbed against the constant media lies about sexuality and attraction.

Coloma's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

I agree, however I don’t think that has much to do with a father documenting his daughters sexual development.

Making sexuality and the human body shamelessly natural, dissolving the mystery, is a good thing, but, there are still lines, one of them being parent / child boundaries.

anartist's avatar

@rpmpseudonym now that is a truly fine piece! I am impressed.
But who is the artist? Sheila Zareno or Richard Whitehurst?

LostInParadise's avatar

Suppose that someone had complained to the police about what Larry Rivers did at the time he was doing it. Would they have been able to stop him? If so, the work should be destroyed. It would be as if someone filmed himself raping someone. I would hope that everyone would agree that such a film should be destroyed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It’s not a question of the body not being fit for viewing. It’s about someone being forced to display it when she didn’t want to. If some guy came in with a gun and demanded you take all your clothes of so he could take a picture and call it “art,” and you didn’t want to but he forced you….. well, that’s a question of rights being violated. Not whether or not your body is fit to be viewed.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Dutchess_III I think a lot of the controversy has to do with the fact that it’s the nude body of an underaged girl. I’ve been “forced” to take lots of cheesy pictures in my life with my camera-happy father. I just wanted to play and explore, not put my arm around my sister and fake a smile. I hated taking those pictures, and to this day I don’t like being photographed because of it. I don’t think anyone would say that it was in the same league of “abuse” as this falls under.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@gorillapaws @RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think I have less issues with the nudity because, I agree, there are grey areas and who makes those standards anyway…I disagree with this because it was coerced.

dpworkin's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I wonder if everything asked of a child by a parent isn’t in some sense coercion. Would that make Sally Mann’s work subject to destruction?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@dpworkin Perhaps but the point is to minimize those instances and to certainly not extrapolate them to the public. As for the person you keep mentioning, I don’t know their work and don’t feel like finding out – I’ve had enough of this q, to be completely honest with you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gorillapaws Above SeaofClouds posted “In another story, it states “Ms. Tamburlini said her father filmed his daughters every six months over at least five years for a body of work he titled “Growing.” If she objected, she said, she was called uptight and a bad daughter. When she confronted her father as a teenager about the films, she said he told her “my intellectual development had been arrested.” In 1981 Rivers edited the footage into a 45-minute film that he planned to show as part of an exhibition. The girls’ mother, Clarice Rivers, who also appears in parts of the film, intervened and stopped him.”

And in another story, “She (the daughter) told the New York Times that “Growing” contributed to her development of anorexia and that “It wrecked a lot of my life, actually.”

Also, would you feel differently if your father had insisted on taking “cheese cake” of you in the nude?

@dpworkin This can’t be compared to the destruction of one-of-a-kind ancient manuscripts. There are plenty of examples of pubescent growth out there. It’s called child pornography. I ask again, and again, and again, why he didn’t take such pictures of his son.

dpworkin's avatar

OK, I’ll just say briefly for others who may be interested, that she is a photographer famous for having taken provocative nude photographs of her own children.

gorillapaws's avatar

@dpworkin notably, her artistic goals have been described as an attempt to capture the essence of motherhood.

dpworkin's avatar

@Dutchess_III I cannot for the life of me see what your post has to do with the philosophical import of this thread, so I’m afraid I am unable to answer you directly.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Dutchess_III I brought up the point because you were trying to say the issue has nothing to do with nudity and everything to do with the fact that it was coerced. My point was that there are examples of acts that are coerced by parents of children that may cause lasting trauma that wouldn’t get anyone too worked up like they are here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@gorillapaws Most of them we don’t know about! If it’s bad enough, and we find out, then they go to jail. But this one was filmed. Also, of course it has to do with the nudity! I don’t think the girls would be objecting if they had been clothed.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dpworkin I looked at Sally Mann’s work. I feel that if her children felt they were forced to participate and wanted the photos destroyed, then they should be destroyed. If only one of her 3 children wanted them destroyed, then only the pictures of that child should be destroyed in my opinion. From the looks of her work, it almost looks like most of the pictures are candid shots. Some of them look posed. To me, it just depends on what the children want.

dpworkin's avatar

@Seaofclouds I think you take a defensible position, but of course we disagree. I think we owe more to art history than to any one individual. I doubt we will ever resolve a disagreement of this nature, but this has been a fascinating thread. Kudos to @janbb. I hope I am not the only person to have given her a GQ.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There are constant rumblings in the creative world about copyrights, what they are, and to whom they should apply. I haven’t kept up with the latest laws, but I know that greater concern has recently been given to the subject, and not so clearly weighted towards the artist as had been practiced in the past.

This came about with certain cases involving Michael Jackson impersonators. And new concerns for a persons image have been expressed. I don’t know how it turned out, but as I understand it, everyone from Jackson to Elvis impersonators, to Beatles and Pink Floyd copy bands would be required to attain permissions from the estates involved and pay adequate royalties as well. This would encompass political figures whom were being characterized on comedy shows, and beefcake greeting cards with Johnny Depps face photoshopped on top of a nude body builder. The lines were blurred as to where it could stop and how to calculate royalties, as well as who would be fit to perform the impersonations, bringing favoritism into the mix, or limiting expression by not allowing those who could not afford it to even wear a white glove on one hand in homage to Jackson.

Regardless of how it did, or will turn out, there is much concern these days in the arts about what an artist can and cannot do with an image of someone else. It seems the one imaged is gaining voice.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

If it were their mother who made the film, and the children were willing participants, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. The fact that their father did it, and that this woman is obviously embarassed by it speaks volumes. It is a disgusting display of how far some people will go for “art”, and the fact that there are comments on this thread that put that “art” above the humiliation and wishes of the subject, frankly makes me want to vomit. Since when did we, as a human race, begin to value “art” over another human. You make me sick.

Likeradar's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Why does which parent did it make a difference?

Facade's avatar

@Likeradar Probably for the same reasons that mothers and daughters or fathers and sons may disrobe in front of each other. It’s more acceptable for parents and children of the same sex to see each other naked.

liminal's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate regardless of a parent’s gender the use of parental power to coerce and force one’s child into exposing genitals and displaying nudity is abuse. Further, the mother allowed it. Neglectfully refusing to step in and protect one’s child is abusive.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Likeradar It’s like this- I snapped candid shots of my daughters running naked through the house as toddlers, after they’d had a bath and were playing a child’s all time favorite game “run away from the jammies”. It was cute and funny and innocent. I even snapped a pic of them playing in the water together when my oldest daughter was about 7. I took those pictures though, not my husband. And I don’t show them to people either. They are for me to keep in a photo book to look at when they are older and married and having babies of their own, so I can reminisce.

I can understand if a mother was an artist and wanted to record her daughter’s transition from childhood to womanhood ONLY if the child in question was completely aware of what it meant and was completely comfortable with it. I do not believe a child would feel comfortable with their father getting up close and personal with their budding breasts, nor with their rapidly changing vaginas. It would feel more natural for their mother to chronicle the changes, because they are of the same sex.

I had a horrible experience with a doctor checking my feminine growth once a month and it scarred me for life. He wasn’t acting innapropriately with me, but it still embarassed me so badly that I still find it hard to be comfortable when naked. I feel dirty and used and even have a paranoid feeling of being watched when I bathe myself, even though my husband is nothing but kind and gentlemanly.

What dpworkin and a lot of regular men in this world don’t seem to understand is when a female of any age feels uncomfortable, embarassed or angry about their body being on display, that is a sign that they FEEL abused, whether abuse was intended. And that woman should not have to suffer the indignity because some idiots think it’s “art”.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@liminal I didn’t say it wasn’t abuse. I said I would understand it better if it were the mother taking the pictures, and if the children were willing participants.

liminal's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I missed where you said willing, I apologize.

dpworkin's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate -What dpworkin and a lot of regular men in this world don’t seem to understand _

How do you know what I understand Read the thread before you make irresponsible comments. I never defended Rivers’ bad behavior. In fact I condemned it, over and over. you owe me an apology.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@dpworkin “The video is an historical document regardless of its content or origins, and as such belongs to future researchers. It would be vandalism to grant one woman’s temporary desire (she is, after all, going to die, and after that it cannot possibly matter to her) in favor of the entire world of art history to come. Her father became famous and highly regarded and important to historians. She is a minor footnote at best. Tant pis.”

What you are saying here is that the “art” matters more than the subject’s obvious discomfort. I owe you nothing. If anything, you owe that woman an apology for basically saying her humiliation doesn’t matter.

dpworkin's avatar

How will it matter when she’s dead?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

photography has a way of saying “your humiliation does matter” just ask the jews

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@dpworkin Because it will still be out there, floating around, so her humiliation will live on whether she is dead or not. Somewhere out in video land is a picture of my naked breast because my idiot partner on my massage state board didn’t drape me properly. It’s humiliating, but for me personally, it’s not worth the effort to track it down and burn it.

It matters because it matters to her. She feels emotional pain because of it, and one human’s emotional pain should be enough to trump a questionable video that sick people view to be “art”. It’s not art, it’s a documentary of her privates, made by her father, that should never have been made, not to mention viewed by other people. If my husband flipped a switch in his head and started taking naked pictures of our oldest daughter, who by the way, is at the age of development, or if he made a video of any kind, I would flat out castrate him and leave him to bleed out.

It matters because it is a video that shouldn’t exist. It matters because it is wrong. It matters because she’s not dead yet, and as the subject, she has the right to destroy it. It matters because she was victimized in order for the video to be made. It matters that it was a video made of her and her privates and it distresses her. It matters. And it will still matter after she’s dead, because dead or not, it’s still a humiliating video of a girl victimized by her own father.

dpworkin's avatar

We have a philosophical disagreement about the sanctity of the historical document. We have no disagreement on the bad behavior of the perpetrator. It is a nuanced point of view that I hold, that has nothing to do with what I understand about “a female’s” feelings. I still think that was an ugly and pejorative statement, but I have now learned better than to expect an apology from you because you don’t really evaluate things on principle, you just react emotionally like someone leading an unexamined life.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@dpworkin LOL, that was quite a mouthful of pure nothing right there. I evaluated the matter on principle, the principle of doing the right thing and giving that woman the peace that she deserves. Peave that every human being deserves after they’ve been violated.

dpworkin's avatar

As I said, your understanding is shallow and puerile. Bub-bye now.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

OK I read the article. I refused at first because I figured that the author would have presented his position with some degree of bias. I did not wish to be influenced. I was correct.

Though I was pleased to see that the author questioned his own motives and final outcome of writing personal histories of his own son, a few questions came to mind that were not addressed.

First of all, the article did not say if the girls faces were shown in the film. That is worth considering. The reason being, is that there is a slight comparison to the myriad of medical books that have highly detailed photographs of countless physical conditions. Anyone who’s been to the dentist has had an x-ray as well, and plastic surgeons along with weight loss clinics photograph their subjects too.

Now, I’d like to think that any photograph published in a medical journal has the written consent of the subject, but I’m not all that confident that they do. At least not in the manner of a typical model release. It could very well be that these photos are rights released at the time of patient signing the malpractice waiver. Even our local city magazines publish before and after photos for weight loss and dental work, all without faces showing. I just did a job that required hundreds of model releases from medical patients. The client told me they were all signed at the time the patient entered the facility. Some releases were twenty years old. So let’s say that medical patients may have signed the rights of their image to be used, with or without face showing. What if they later change their minds?

As well, we are all one google search away from viewing photos of cancerous lungs and tumorous livers that were removed from patients still living. Some I’m sure are from minor children. So the question begs, is there any difference in showing the inside of someones discarded body, vs the outside?

I know these are tough questions. But ultimately they must be considered in reason, one way or another.

But specifically, would it change anyone’s opinion if the girls faces were shown in the film or not shown in the film? Without actually seeing the film, I’ve formed this mental image of some poor girl sitting there teary eyed wishing her father wouldn’t do this to her. I see her face. But the article clearly explains that he zoomed in for closeups on their breasts and genitalia, never mentioning a thing about photographing their faces. Would that make any difference whatsoever?

It also states that he asked the girls to describe their feelings about their changing bodies. I’d be interested in knowing if any of the transcripts revealed them feeling disagreeable to the process itself, beyond describing the requested information.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Wouldn’t make a difference to me. The girls, regardless of whether or not their faces were shown, did not want to do it. And that’s the only thing that matters.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Understood. I just had to throw that out there.

anartist's avatar

NYU has resolved the situation.
Ownership will like devolve to the daughters.
End of argument.
Why do all of you go on?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@anartist Because it still raises interesting ethical questions, regardless. Why ponder anything?

dpworkin's avatar

Well, those of us who are here to consider the issue, perhaps. Those of us who are here to make flat declarations and/or hurl invective, not so much.

janbb's avatar

Yes, I like to raise questions here that don’t necessarily have a simple answer and the ensuing discussion has proven that was so of this one. Although I tend to come down on the side of the abused daughter’s rights, I do think there is also merit to the “historical record for future scholars” argument. Nobody, including @dpworkin was ever condoning what Rivers did, it is a question of the abused indivudual’s right to the work versus the potential greater good of letting it remain in the archive. NYU is a very savvy political machine and I wouldn’t take their decision as anything but a CYA action.

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Coloma's avatar

Well..the majority rules, just take a gander at the majority of answers.
The scales are definitely tipped in favor of the womans rights and, well…plenty of big fat zeros beneath the minorities replies.

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dpworkin's avatar

The majority does not rule. Reason rules, even if it is embodied in the ideas of one poster among thousands.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Coloma Sorry, but the majority makes mistakes all the time (slavery, communism, Nazis etc). It’s a fallacious argument to appeal to the majority called an argumentum ad populum. I personally think the position in favor of preserving the work is a highly nuanced position that requires a lot of intellect, study, and knowledge of history to fully appreciate. Please don’t assume that we don’t care about the woman in question.

The reality is that on the timeline of human history any one of us are pretty damn insignificant. In the bigger picture all that really stands out are people of note. There have been billions of people born, but only thousands of notable figures in history. I’m not saying Larry Rivers can be equated to Einstein or anything, but history is full of examples where the people in an artist’s own time were never able to fully appreciate their work until much later (sometimes centuries).

Perhaps, many centuries from now, humanity will evolve to the point where everyone walks around nude because they’ve grown beyond the shame we’ve been cultured to have about ourselves. Perhaps in such a world they would have a difficult time understanding our culture today. I can imagine how actually seeing this work (instead of just reading about it’s existence and transcripts) could prove incredibly valuable to scholars in understanding how our culture made us feel about our bodies (even taking into account the coerced circumstances of the film’s production). Perhaps, they will have technology that can analyze the emotional tones from our speech, body movements to gain new understanding of the piece.

I realize the daughters were coerced in a manner that can only be described as abusive, but the reality is that it was made, the abuse occurred, it cannot be undone, and that there may be value in the work we can’t fully appreciate (especially since none of us have seen it). The position @dpworkin and others have been taking requires us to step outside of our time, and realize that we don’t have all of the information to evaluate the merits of this work today because we can’t escape the paradigm of our own time and culture.

Hell, people are looking back at impressionist painters now and realizing that they may have artistically anticipated the theory of relativity. How the hell could people of the day possibly have understood those types of implications in the 1870’s and 1980’s?

My initial response after reading the question was to burn it—it’s trash. But I became swayed by the arguments of @dpworkin, and tried to see things from the other side. After much contemplation, I’ve come to the conclusion that preserving the work in a locked vault with limited access to only qualified scholars after the death of the daughters would have been the right decision. My biggest regret in this whole thing is that I’ve not been able to effectively communicate why such a policy is ultimately better for humanity than the momentary joy/relief the daughter would feel at it’s destruction.

The destruction would create a permanent hole in the historical record that would leave future art historians to always wonder just how far Rivers went. I also fear that one-day some artist may feel compelled to reproduce “Growing” and subject his family to similar torments. The fact that “it’s already been done and is still around” may be enough to discourage someone from trying.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@gorillapaws “Hell, people are looking back at impressionist painters now and realizing that they may have artistically anticipated the theory of relativity.”

Agreed. I’ve often claimed that pointillism was the genesis of the digital revolution.

dpworkin's avatar

@gorillapaws Thank you so much for your reasoned post. I just said the exact same thing in far fewer words, but my post was modded off for no good reason. I have filed my objection with the moderators, but I hope people who saw what I said will also come to my defense. It was entirely unobjectionable in every way, but was called flame bait.

cazzie's avatar

Why do you want to see ‘genius’ in what this man created at the expense of his pubescent, under age daughters?

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie Whether the art was worthwhile or not has never been the issue. The issue has always been the historical integrity of the archive.

janbb's avatar

@gorillapaws Good points; I’m still squinting at the question and still would like a solution that records the daughter’s feelings, the history of the coerced piece and the piece in a way that soothes her pain. I guess I want pie in the sky when I die too.

@cazzie The point is that he is a great artist not that this piece alone makes him one.

cazzie's avatar

I didn’t raise the worthiness of the art. You did.

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie I have objected to the particular piece many times above, and have even characterized it as a crime. You are mistaken.

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin sorry… I wasn’t referring to you.. but to @gorillapaws.

gorillapaws's avatar

@cazzie what exactly are you asking me?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There is a theory, that all great cultural, philosophical, and scientific revolutions acquire their seminal foundations from the artists, many of whom are rejected in their own times.

First the visionary artist, scratching out an idea that is upon them. They may not understand it all, but it’s as if they have become aware of something that no other person is aware of, and they feel the need to describe it somehow, most often vaguely at best.

This plants a meme virus into the minds of society. If the virus catches on, it will first propagate in the minds of other artists. This catches the attention of philosophers, who discuss the possible meanings and implications of the new form. The strongest surviving philosopher memes are then taught in the universities, whereas a new generation of students enters the workforce with new and often vulgar ideologies.

The students are forced to contrast their new ideologies against the status quo of current paradigm, which of course was built upon legacy and heritage. As the old guard dies away, the new paradigm is set by maturing students who grow to take over the responsibilities of their particular industries, whereas manufacturing, design, and science are all the benefactors of.

Upon the new meme being integrated into multiple disciplines, it is released to the public as products and services. The public is therefor encouraged to embrace the new way and is thus educated on how everything works and the benefits thereof.

At this point, the new meme, after having been subject to years of debate, evolves into the current cultural identity. It must fight other memes for its survival.

The cycle continues, as the current meme is replaced again and again, slowly over time. We cannot possibly fathom how a current meme will evolve as it bounced against years of heritage and years of refinement.

May the best meme win. Supposedly, it takes about 120–80 years for this cycle to complete. I think it is shorter now with the digital world we live within.

rebbel's avatar

I might have the solution, @janbb.
Give an acknowledged writer the assignment to describe the piece extensively.
Then, or lock the film in a safe, or burn the thing.
If it is celluloid film, it is only a matter of time before it is destroyed.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dpworkin I didn’t get to see your post. I wish I had. Very odd to get censored on a topic that involves censorship.

dpworkin's avatar

Ridiculous, out of hand, uncalled for. I am thinking seriously of deleting my account.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

That’s what happens when people who don’t like your point of view toss out flags designed to prevent your right to free speech.

I would be displeased if you left. So much so that I’d have to question my own involvement with a group that solves problems by shutting mouths.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m sending a message to fluther requesting your comments be reinstated. I can’t imagine why they would have been removed at this depth in the conversation. I’m shocked.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Message sent. But who is listening?

dpworkin's avatar

I will repeat what I said, knowing that the same trigger-happy mod may make the same mistake twice.

I said “The majority does not rule. Reason rules, even if it abides in the post of only one person among thousands.”

Someone tell me how that is objectionable.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Reason rules. The objectionable part is having the audacity to think it actually stands a chance against an unreasonable majority.

Reason will rule when reason is considered. When does the majority do that?

cazzie's avatar

I agree. It’s not up for vote. It’s up to the powers that be. In this case, the new owner of the work, who has seen fit to return the material to the subjects that were exploited in the process of making the piece.

gorillapaws's avatar

@cazzie what, exactly, were you asking me earlier, I’m confused?

Also, as @DrasticDreamer pointed out earlier, the question is more about what should’ve happened than the reality of what actually occurred. It’s still an interesting question even if the work is destroyed.

janbb's avatar

Actually, the work was declined for purchase by NYU, I’m not sure what that means in terms of its continued provenance. But I agree with @gorillapaws, the discussion is still worth having.

cazzie's avatar

@gorillapaws I didn’t ask anything… simply a comment.

janbb's avatar

As the OP, I would be happy to have this question moved to “Social” if it can be and the modded comments restored. To my knowledge, there has been nothing egregious said – although I may not have read every word – and I think the discussion has been rich and productive enough so that the side-comments would not detract.

dpworkin's avatar

A couple of my quips could have been seen as personal, but the last one was absolutely not objectionable in any way. I don’t think the thread needs to be moved. I was on topic, and continuing the conversation.

Coloma's avatar

@gorillapaws

I was speaking of the majorities feelings on this subject within this discussion, not insinuating the global majority when referenced against slavery or other obviously twisted monopolies.

I am all for art preservation, but this is not about art preservation, it is about sexual exploitation of minor children.

I stand firm that the subject (s) in question should have the final say in what becomes of this film.

All the artsy fartsy talk in the world does not budge that fact one inch.

The subjects have every right in the world to keep that material from being ‘exposed’ to the public let alone future children and grandchildren

Their right to privacy has been violated twice IMO.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Look, my arguments above were not shallow. There were based on the obvious pain of the woman in question, the subject of the “art” piece. It sickened me to see some people placing the value of “art” over the value of a human being. That is all. Buh bye.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Should Dani Shapiro’s article be stricken from the record as well? Just speaking of the matter, mentioning names and describing the subject matter is enough to warrant a case of perceived violation of privacy. The goose is loose.

Shall we then hunt the web for all mention of this incident (art/crime) and delete any commentary mentioning names as well? As I said before, the visual in my mind was worse than the visual actually depicted. I saw faces in my mind, and although they may not be the faces of the actual subjects involved, they do represent the subject nonetheless.

Shall it be deemed illegal to search for images of Emma Tamburlini even when they are courtesy of Emma Tamburlini and be able to put an actual face with a name in a story about an art/crime?

Will you click these links to see her, or respect her privacy and forget the matter altogether?

How less humiliating is it to place a face with a name in a story about a sexual crime that gives the mind cause to imagine the most horrible scenarios, rather than to simply archive the material and be done with it, forgotten in minutes, and left for future generations to ponder?

Coloma's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

I believe the subjects in question have the right to make that determination, to decide who, if anyone, gets to ponder their names, faces, images.

I also believe that the subjects in question should retain the right to pull the material in question whenever they so choose, even if 30 years have gone by.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes I understand how you feel about this. But what about my question of Dani Shapiro’s article and other mentions of the incident all over the news and web? Her name is out there. Her photo is out there. Should all of that be stricken from the record as well?

Just by speaking of it and having access to the story and photos, people will imagine the worst. There-in-lies yet another source of public humiliation and privacy violation.

Does this whole thing rest upon the image of a prepubescent nipple? Her perceived humiliation is assured without anyone ever seeing the film. She may prevent people from viewing the final outcome, but the final outcome is not what her humiliation is based upon. Her humiliation is based upon the actual incident. And unfortunately, no one will ever be able to take that away, no matter how much film is burned.

I know my words seem harsh. I empathize with her. It should never have happened. I’m sorry it happened to her. But no one can convince me that her humiliation will be any less when there are 5,480 results that her name brings up on google. There are tens of thousands of people discussing the matter. How does this address her humiliation?

Coloma's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Because, her humiliation IS compounded by the material being ‘spread’ around.

Hits on her name, the story, etc. sure, I imagine she’d prefer that to be stricken from the public record as well, in an ideal word…but…at the very least she can take comfort that her humiliation is not going to be gawked at for centuries to come.

I understand your POV, but..I have to go with what I consider to be the just, moral, and KIND thing to do.

Maybe this is another area of male/female polarity, with the women beng more focused on feelings and the men being more focused on some sort of logic. lol

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This question has been moved to Social at the OP’s request. One of @dpworkin‘s posts (“The majority does not rule. Reason rules, even if it is embodied in the ideas of one poster among thousands.”) has been restored.

dpworkin's avatar

And no moderator responded to my two requests for explanation.

augustlan's avatar

I just did, via email.

Edit: For the record, I’m the only mod who gets an email when you hit the “contact” button, and I wasn’t on most of the day.

andrew's avatar

[owner says]: FYI folks, the section this was in had nothing to do with way the responses were moderated.

missingbite's avatar

For those of you who are defending this as art history, does that mean that someone else should still be allowed to do this and call it art today? What would we say if an artist today wanted to make another film of the same exact type and call it “growing up”? Do we give the work a pass in the name of art, or destroy it for what it is? We have examples of this. Some have compared this work to the photos of the Holocaust, are we going to recreate that in the name of art? Just because it comes from an artist, doesn’t mean it should be called art. Just because an example of something is kept as history doesn’t mean we should repeat it.

Facade's avatar

@missingbite That bothers me as well. who gets to decide what is and isn’t art or what is or isn’t important enough to be preserved or why the hell it even matters if it ruins a life?

dpworkin's avatar

@missingbite The question is not about what is or isn’t art. The question is about whether the historical record of an already established artist should be able to be changed for all time, to the detriment of future scholars, because of personal complaints.

Facade's avatar

@dpworkin Are you really trying to say that without this film, the world of art will suffer from a lack of knowledge? It’s one film on a subject that has already been studied and studied. There are many more pieces of art created without hurting a child from which scholars who shouldn’t need a film to tell them how women grow anyway can learn.

dpworkin's avatar

No, I am trying to say that even this trivial piece of shit should be subject to the principle that the archive should not be violated, just as we protect the First Amendment rights of vile speakers and useless pornographers.

Facade's avatar

Better the violation of a thing than a person.

dpworkin's avatar

Well, that’s a philosophical conclusion and you and I disagree. It’s still a fascinating discussion.

cazzie's avatar

My father had photos of what he witnessed in/after WW2 and when his children found them, he was so upset, he destroyed them (or most of them, from what I understand). I am actually sorry for that, because it could have been an important witness. BUT he wasn’t going to display them to the public. It was a private thing he went through, with his buddies. He was cataloguing and documenting. He didn’t call it ‘art’, but he knew, as it was happening, that someone needed to preserve the images and the carnage. AND he certainly wasn’t going to display the images to glorify himself. THAT is a big difference here.

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie Larry Rivers is dead, and no one wanted to glorify these images, only to preserve the record of them. They were never intended for display. I should think their destruction would sadden one every bit as much as the loss of your father’s photos saddens one. What a loss. I’m sorry that happened to you.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

How may we speak out against a travesty if the travesty is hidden?

cazzie's avatar

Well, @dpworkin , it was HIS decision. He was a smart guy. I’m sure he weighed up the matter in his mind and to him, protecting his children from the images was more important. He kept a small selection of them. I remember seeing them. What he went through has been described in film, pictures, documentaries.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies We can be aware of a travesty through other ways, other than witnessing the crime itself. That is why I suggest she release a version of the film herself, edited, but with full-on first person witness and emotion. BUT we don’t NEED to see what he did her her.

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin BUT he DID try to display them…. The mother had to put a stop to it. Have you not read the full story yet?

dpworkin's avatar

@cazzie We all agree that these images are not to be shared or exhibited publicly.

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin By that rational, nothing recorded would ever warrant destruction. Do you believe that everything recorded should be cataloged for future scholars to study? All child porn? All Snuff films? Everything? I simply cannot grasp the idea that everything recorded in life is more valuable to society than the respect of even one individual.

dpworkin's avatar

@missingbite I think that mischaracterizes my position. I don’t care about trash. I care about an already-established scholarly archive, in use, maintained by a world-respected institution, and being traduced.

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin I wasn’t trying to mischaracterize you. I was simply trying to find out if there is a line that can be crossed. I guess my point is that even though Larry Rivers work is an already-established scholarly archive it can still contain trash, as we can all agree this film is. So my belief is it should be destroyed at the wishes of the “subject of the art.”

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, I understand that each point of view here has its validity. That’s why the question has attracted so many thoughtful posts on both sides. I hope I haven’t left the impression that I don’t feel for the women. I don’t feel that their transient concerns are as important as the principle of maintaining an intact archive, but I can certainly understand the opposite point of view.

missingbite's avatar

@dpworkin I have followed your posts and can also see your side. That is why I was trying to figure out where we draw a line. You and I disagree on that line but that is what makes the world great. A person would have to be totally heartless to not feel for the woman in this position which I know you are not. It has been a great debate and I look forward to more insight.

janbb's avatar

Wow – I love what is going on here. Real thought and communication; I have changed my mind about the line several times in the course of this discussion.

dpworkin's avatar

We blame you for introducing actual content to what should be an entirely frivolous medium.

janbb's avatar

Mea culpa – runs and ducks for cover.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Hibernate's avatar

Nice question. Hard one at the same time. I can understand the girl [ woman now ^^ ]. But I understand the artist point of view [he was doing research mainly it seems].

If I had the power in this situation I’d settle for something here. She might not want the films published but at some point she’ll die and she can’t stop them for being published. She might get a lot of money with this film [and be labeled as an artist since that movie isn’t porn].

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