You can’t force artists to classify their art


There is talk in Australia, once again, of limiting artists rights. I am likely to offend people with these statements and I don’t care. Ratings classifications don’t belong in the arts. Frankly they barely belong in movies. Most people fail to notice them with regards to tv and movies and still they complain.

Bill Henson is once again exhibiting. This time in Melbourne. I was waiting to discuss the exhibition until after I had seen it In Person but this latest wave of protests have brought me out of my studio and indignant once more about the treatment of artists in this country.

After the press tried and failed to get people riled up about the latest exhibition the right wing nut jobs have taken a stand saying that thhe only thing that will protect the fair and delicate citizenry of Australia from the tyranny of artists is to force artists to undergo the same classifications procedures that movies and tv shows do. Here are some of the reasons this won’t work.

1. Classifications are expensive. Production houses can afford it, individual artists can’t.
2. When the classifications board reviewed henson’s work and came back with a PG rating the protesters were enraged. Even though this was something they requested. They won’t be happy regardless.
3. The ratings system in Australia is fundamentally flawed. Ask any gamer. It isn’t flexible enough to cover art.
4. How do you classify something as subjective as art any way?
5. By increasing the costs for artists you will be raising the price of art for all. In this economy this will probably drive the market further down and for ce more galleries to close.
6. This will fundamentally shift the way australian artists create. It will engender self censorship, make artists less likely to create for fear of the process, the costs and the issues. They may not create their best work, stick to safe things and in the end this may hurt the arts industry more.

I am not unreasonable. By all means make the classification board accessible to all artists to help in disputes, or even to prevent them for the artists that can afford it. But making it compulsory for all artists is irresponsible and despotic to say the least. In the States a bill like this would never reach the floor, here, well I only hope more sensible heads prevail.

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