photographers as Wilhelm Von Gloeden and Guglielmo Pluschow in order to

Shield depictions of the bare male youth from being comprehended as the obscene
— police interpreted the pictures as pornographic, thereby focusing the court

Proceeding and both the media and academic discourses on whether or not
‘naked photos of youngsters typical of family albums’ are pornographic
(Bowles et al., 1998: 5–6). In similar cases throughout the USA, individuals
who are discovered to have family snaps of nude children are frequently detained for
the possession and creation of child pornography (Kincaid, 2000). The warmed-
ness encircling the breakdown of the custom of discrete contexts that
Independent nakedness from the sexual feeds the craze around the discussions over
‘pornographic’ characterizations of kids. This area functions as a useful example of the
instability around circumstances in which nakedness could be view ed as separate from the
Child pornography — an issue which, according to Laura Kipnis, is so
emotionally charged that it’s become difcult to approach it rationally (Kipnis,
1996: 5) — is difcult to dene. Based on the Campaign to End Child Prosti-
tution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), child pornography consists of ‘sexually
explicit replicas of a kid’s picture — including sexually explicit photograph-
graphs, negatives, slides, magazines, films, video tapes and computer discs’
(ECPAT, 1996: 4). For the Australian Ofce of Film and Literature Classication,
child pornography is qualified in the following scheme: (1) texts containing
depictions of actual sexual activity involving individuals under 16 years of age
(hardcore); (2) pictures of nude models under 16 which have sexual over-
tones such as sexually suggestive poses; (3) texts given in the main to nude
children in a non-sexual context. Such recent determinations of what constitutes
child pornography concentrate on the textual picture and aren’t concerned with
the image as a record of the sexual abuse involved in their creation. In that
Admiration, child pornography is typically dened through its reading rather than its
Creation, and most legislation of western states regulating the criminality of
child pornography possession, screening and distribution determines the interpre-
tation of the image according to what the purportedly ‘reasonable’ person would
nd offensive (Hartley, 1998: 12; Cover, 2000: 108).
While it’s definitely true the practice of recording sexual abuse of
children should be considered a criminal offence — and as offensive — the simple
record of a naked child is now able to be characterized as obscene because it’s under-
stood to sexualize the youngster. For instance, in a case in California, authorities were
called in by a photo developer when he found ‘family snaps’ of an 8-year-
old boy and a 6-year old girl together in the bathroom eating sausages. What alarmed
the programmer and caused the authorities to contemplate the photos as ‘indecent’ and
‘degenerate’ were the sausages, despite the fact they weren’t, as James Kincaid
puts it, ‘being licked, stroked or fit’ (Kincaid, 2000). In another situation
identied by Kincaid, a girl:

… turned in bath-time photos of her 8-year old daughter to a Fuji lm processing laboratory in
Oberlin, Ohio. The laboratory contacted the local authorities, who discovered the photographs ‘over the line’ and
arrested the mom for, among other things, snapping in the same frame with her daughter a
showerhead, which the prosecution apparently planned to relate somehow to hints of mastur-

bation. (Kincaid, 2000)
These are two cases at which record of youth nakedness under the gaze
of the parents was deemed to be obscene through processes of sexualization or,
better, a reading that presumes the gaze of the parents through a camera lens was
a sexual one. The signiers that recontextualize the shots as sexual are, in these
two instances, the phallic sausage and the apparently phallic showerhead. No such
signiers are necessary for the sexual reading, yet, as testied by the case of
the visual arts pupil and many other recent cases of charges or arrests for kid
pornography production.
What is occurring here is a destabilization between the framework in which the
parental gaze at the nude kid (and its lmic record) is presumed harmless, and
the frame in which nakedness is seen as sexual. As with all textual interpretations,
the meaning resides in the reading. In Tony Bennett’s poststructuralist formu-
lation of reception theory, the meaning is not held by the text, but actively
produced in the act of reading, and in the relationship between the text and the
reader. For Bennett, the productive activation of meaning is regulated by the
‘reading formation’ or the ‘set of intersecting discussions which productively
activate a given body of texts and the connections between them in a specic way’
(Bennett, 1983: 216). Such readings of benign photographs of