What actually is the difference between art and pornography?
Last night, I was watching a short documentary on Richard Kern, an arguably famous filmmaker and photographer. Based in New York, Kern gained some notoriety in early 1980s filming himself having sexual intercourse with several young girls, hired as “models for an art project”. Kern then distributed his performances in the underground circles of artists, punks and eventually voyeurs. He soon became a recognized artist.
Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton
However, let’s not be too much in hurry to judge Kern. It is not a news that Kim Kardashian earned $5 million (by court order) and fame (by herself) for a home made sex tape. And what about her ex-girlfriend Paris Hilton: initially Paris attempted to stop the distribution of a sex tape she recorded with her then-boyfriend in a hotel room, but now the young Hilton receives profits from the distribution of the video. This list may be much longer.
I write my stories, then I add sex to sell.
I am not sure if this is a real citation by Charles Bukowski. Maybe it was just the title of a biography of the Californian poet, written by an Italian author. However, it describes quite well our human nature.
Today, Richard Kern is an acclaimed photographer. No need to say that his subjects are — for the most part — undressed girls, posing in less -than-innocent portraits. All around the world, Kern works are exposed in art galleries and museums. And they sell for quite a high price.
However, are these pictures art or pornography? What is the difference? Maybe the price? A pornographic publication may sell for $10, a limited edition of a picture by Richard Kern may be bought from $10.000 up.
I think that the difference is — somehow — the purpose. The intention of the author. The idea. Then, the result may well be the same: a picture describing a young and often nice looking girl, who got paid some money to expose her naked breasts.
I wonder what Gustave Courbet had in his mind, some 150 years ago, when he painted — oil-on-canvas — L’Origine du Monde.
This video contains nudity
This short video-documentary (10 minutes) realized in Stockholm, Sweden, is part of a larger project by Richard Kern for Vice. A journey through Europe, interviewing girls who actually decided to pose for some naked pictures. I warn you: it may be, somehow disturbing. However, it is interesting. In this video, three young Swedish girls (aged around 20), describe their views on art, pornography and gender. However, at the same time, their bodies are exploited by the camera of Kern.
Watch at your own discretion.
The video is here: SWEDEN, by Richard Kern — for Vice.
Read more (in Swedish!)
Terry Richardson — a post by one of my favorite bloggers: Confessions of a pharmacist. (Do not worry, the translation in English is just a click away!)