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7. It's ridiculous that we treat child nudity as a problem

Nan Goldin, The Independent (UK), 8 July 2008

Perversity is in the eye of the beholder. Children are born without a 
fear of sexuality or a fear of their own bodies. That fear is imposed on 
them. Children are sensual beings, they touch and they like to be 
touched. It's the adult who sometimes takes advantage of this situation.

It's not about what the children in an image are doing and there's 
nothing sick about a nude child. It's so ridiculous we treat this as a 
problem in society. It's one of the joys of life, the human body.

My little nephew grew up in Scotland and when he'd visit America with 
his parents, he'd run around the beach naked and people would be 
incensed. The more we are around nudity, the more it is demystified and 
the more we realise that the body is beautiful.

Pornography is another issue altogether. I used to work in Times Square 
and a lot of the people who worked in a bar there were sex workers who 
made their money from being in porn magazines. I would say the 
difference between pornography and art is that (in the first instance), 
children are abused to act out adult's version of their fantasies. Child 
abuse is all about power and I am not encouraging anyone to have a 
relationship with someone under-age.

Last year when I had my exhibition at the Baltic, the assistant director 
called the police and said there's a piece here that you might not 
like. The image was of two little sisters belly-dancing. They decided to 
belly dance for me, I didn't set anything up. They were acting 
completely naturally. Afterwards I got a letter from the parents of the 
girls I photographed to tell me how much they had enjoyed the images.

But even respected publishers are now afraid of using that image in a 
book of my work because they think it could prevent its US distribution.

Art can't and shouldn't be regulated by the state. Politicians have 
nothing whatsoever to do with art or artists except to become anonymous 
collectors if they choose.

Nan Goldin, 54, is an American fine art and documentary photographer 
based in Paris

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