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Abusing kids for “art”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 28, 2006 11:56 AM

***scroll for updates***

This is unbelievably sick. A left-wing photographer, Jill Greenberg, deliberately makes toddlers cry and turns the pictures into a Los Angeles art exhibit called “End Times” to indulge her Bush Derangement Syndrome. She slaps titles like “Grand Old Party,” “Four More Years,” and “Apocalypse Now” onto photos of the poor children she manipulated and goaded.

The Guardian covers the exhibit here with links to the children’s photos and reports how Greenberg deliberately provoked the children to tears:

When photographer Jill Greenberg decided to take a lollipop away from a small child, she had a broader purpose in mind.

“The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset,” the Los Angeles-based photographer said. “It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation.”

As the 27 two- and three-year-olds featured in her exhibition, End Times, cried and screamed, demanding the return of the lollipop given to them just moments before, Greenberg snapped away.

Someone at YouTube has posted the gallery as well:

PopPhoto magazine has an interview with Greenberg, who used her own daughter in the exhibit as well, and speaks of the merits of children vs. monkeys as photo subjects:

When Jill Greenberg conceived the idea of photographing crying children back in 2004, she didn’t anticipate the attention the project would bring to her fledgling art career, or the furor it would raise. Greenberg, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children, is already known as one of the country’s most success commercial photographers, with work for ad clients like Microsoft, Kraft, and Procter & Gamble and magazines like New York and Time. She has emerged as a potent force in fine art with a series of acutely lit portraits of monkeys and apes, which in turn led to her work with children.

Your images have certainly caused an uproar. What do you say to people who call you a child abuser?

I think they’re insane…Maybe getting kids to cry isn’t the nicest thing to do, but I’m not causing anyone permanent psychological damage.

How many kids did you shoot altogether?

Around 35. Some were the children of friends, plus my own daughter; others came from the Ford or Jet Set model agencies. Kid models aren’t very expensive—not as expensive as monkeys, for example.

The lighting is very dramatic. How did you accomplish that?

It’s the same lighting I used for my portraits of monkeys, and I’ve been using it for some recent magazine cover portraits…

Greenberg talks about the larger purpose of her “work:”

I saw this little girl who’d come to a party with her mom, and she was beautiful, so I thought it might be interesting to photograph her. When they came to my studio, the mother brought along her toddler son, and I decided to shoot him too. We took off his shirt because it was dirty. He started crying on his own, and I shot that, and when I got the contact sheets back I thought, “This could go with a caption, ‘Four More Years,’” like he was appalled at George Bush’s reelection…

…That was one of the things that interested me about the project—the strength and beauty of the images as images. I also thought they made a kind of political statement about the current state of anxiety a lot of people are in about the future of the country. Sometimes I just feel like crying about the way things are going.

Other photographers are appalled at Greenberg’s methods. See Thomas Hawk and Jeremiah McNichols. Read and listen carefully. Turns out her methods involved more than a quick provocation. The kids were stripped and she described how frustrating it was to have parents “step out of the studio for a couple minutes” in concerted attempts to make children cry who were not cooperating.

BoingBoing reported on Greenberg’s attempts to harass and intimidate Hawk. More details from Hawk here. McNichols, who shares Greenberg’s political views, condemns her corruption of art:

Perhaps the greatest irony of the work is Greenberg’s overlaying of a political message, one preaching compassion and intelligence at that, to a process that involved the willful manipulation of toddlers to break down their toddler-sized psyches and leave them in a pool of their own tears…

…I believe that the moral dimension of “End Times” cannot be ignored, and that an artist need not profit from societal objections to their work if those objections are sound and widely shared. I further believe that Jill Greenberg’s work should not be viewed through the art-historical lens of edgy, contemporary art, but is instead a cultural hiccup that should be shelved with divisive cultural artifacts like black minstrelry, art involving the physical abuse of animals, and other works that reflect a sensibility so alien that it is better approached not as art, but as the fractured product of a diseased mind or a necrotic culture.

Indeed, this woman makes Deb Frisch look like Mr. Rogers.

Someone should put together an art exhibit called “Unhinged Times.” Here’s a start.
And here’s Greenberg appearing on cable TV last night:

greenberg002.jpg

***

Reader Miki B. writes:

Imagine the uproar if a “right wing” photographer used the same technique to illustrate what crybabies Mr Gore and Kerry are for having their
lollipops snatched away.

Reader Eric W.:

Michelle, I think you’ve got Jill Greenberg all wrong. Her work is brilliant! What better way to describe how moonbats feel about “our current political and social situation” than by showing a bunch of toddlers having fits. And who doesn’t believe that a liberal would take candy from a baby if it’s for “the greater good”? Quite frankly, I appreciate Ms. Greenberg’s candor on the subject.

Reader Steven S.:

If that was a movie shoot and not a still shoot, it most certainly would be child abuse. A social worker from an accredited agency must be present at all movie shoots to protect children from such abuse, and you can bet her method would not be allowed. (You can check with any film board to check the specifics of this).

Also, the famous (child) actor/director Jackie Cooper titled his autobiography, “Please Don’t Shoot My Dog” because when he was a child actor, his uncle and the director wanted him to cry for a scene. So they took his dog from him, took him around the corner and they fired several shots as though they shot him to death. They came back and told him they killed his dog. He cried alright. After the scene, they gave him his dog back, but Jackie never forgave his uncle and never forget the trauma of that awful act, and still talks about it in almost every interview, even though it happened something like 75 years ago!

But I guess it’s okay as long as one suffers from BDS. (Bush Derangement Syndrome.)

***

Speaking of Frischness, here’s the latest on that. Jeff Goldstein needs help.

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