Being a teen is hard… like really hard. By the age of 12, most young people begin the stages of puberty, inheriting a multitude of hormonal, social, and physical changes. These changes affect our perception and the way we think leaving a lasting effect on our personalities. The years of adolescence could be considered the transition period, going from a sheltered child being educated in the primary sector, to a fully fledged adult and eventually moving out of home. Although these years seem to provide ample “transition” time, the process itself isn’t so linear, (much like social media growth AAAAAAAAYYYYYYEEEEE!). These years are therefore extremely difficult to get through and can lead to huge complications in an individual’s life.One of the most prominent complications that (usually) arises during puberty years is the idea of “freedom”. This doesn’t just mean being able to go to bed late or buy treats from the store, but also means having freedom over your own body, and being able to make decisions about yourself and wellbeing. In this weeks #BCM110 Lecture I found the video about artist Bill Henson especially fascinating, whose work had sparked huge controversy at the time, even gaining the attention of then PM Kevin Rudd. Henson’s work aims to bring light to the “Human Condition”, or rather the disease of being human, and what that inherits. His content largely consists of nude pictures taken of teens between the ages of 13-18, usually depicted in dark scenes and with struggling expressions in their body language and posture.
In Australia, although the age of consent is 16 you are not able to view or be viewed in pornographic films until the age of 18. This was one of the main arguments against Henson’s work and by far caused the most outrage among the public and various politicians. Kevin Rudd even commented, saying Henson’s work had “No artistic merit” and was just straight up porn. Talking about, and analysing this point leaves me very conflicted. On one hand I see where the (then) PM is coming from, and that this may be no different to porn, however, I can’t help but consider the other side of the argument. During these years of growth and development, most people consider and treat adolescents like adults, and they want it to be this way. This time of a person’s life is the most crucial, as it allows them to get a taste of taking charge, making their own decisions, and being held accountable to themselves. Many teens strive to become independent from their parents as fast as possible, as that’s just human nature. By this age, although everyone develops at a different rate, most people are able to make their own decisions and evaluate the consequences of their actions.I would consider Henson’s work a great depiction of the struggles of an adolescent, and an artistic wonder. His work truly does highlight the struggles of growing and developing into your own skin, finding who you are, and our continuous quest for meaning. Although his photos are confronting I do believe they are more than just porn, and may even help people relate to the teen struggles of fighting against your emotions and destructive thoughts. People can choose what they want to do with their bodies as long as there are no malicious intentions, whereby someone can take advantage of someone else. Bill Henson highlights this beautiful idea through his work.