Should NYU Exhibit Larry Rivers’ Film of Nude Daughters?
In what looks to be an interesting case of ethics and law, the NY Times ran an article today on the pleas by two women who allege they were forced and obligated to appear nude and topless in their father’s videos and films. The artist is Larry Rivers, and his two daughters are Emma Tamburlini (43) and her older sister, Gwynne Rivers. The artist’s foundation, the Larry Rivers Foundation, has declined Rivers’ daughters’ request to destroy the film and videos.
Via The Times: In the film Rivers tells the girls to take off their clothes and then zooms in on their breasts from various angles. He interviews them about how they feel about their breasts and whether boys have started noticing them. In some scenes Clarice Rivers appears with her daughters, displaying her own breasts and talking about them.
The Foundation originally sold the archives to New York University for an undisclosed amount. According to the Times, NYU has agreed to withdraw the film and video footage from viewing during the daughters’ lifetime. It’s unclear whether NYU will exhibit the material once one or both daughters die.
The NY Times quotes one of Rivers’ daughters as stating, “I kind of think that a lot of people would be very uptight, or at least a little bit concerned, wondering whether they have in their archives child pornography.”
One must agree. It’s hard to imagine, no matter how liberal or artsy one thinks one is, this is a case that leans more toward child pornography than art. Perhaps it’s not that it cannot be art. Just that it doesn’t necessarily follow that because it’s art it is therefore legal.
The NY Times has more on this here.
UPDATE: July 8, 2010
Salon weighs in on this controversy:
Given the current legal stance toward the possession of any material depicting child nudity or sexuality, it’s kind of astounding to think that NYU will have this stuff in its “special collections” library.