Jill Greenberg is a Sick Woman Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse
Update: Got a thank you note in the form of part of a comment from Paul Kopeikin the gallery owner where Jill’s work is being shown right now.
Update #2. I think Jeremiah McNichols has written the most well articulated piece on the Greenberg controversy that I’ve seen published yet.
There is a thread over at the Flickr group Utata today about artist Jill Greenberg’s latest show at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery called End Times. And it’s sickening.
The ethics of photography are by no means simple — shooting strangers, permissions, capturing pain and suffering, many different subjects require that photographers think through their ethics before coming up with the best way to make and display their work. There are a lot of gray areas and a lot of different opinions on many different areas of what should be captured and what should not be captured. I generally fall into the camp of just about anything ought to be ethical for capture assuming it’s natural and the photographer is working as a witness, bystander, artist, photojournalist, citizen journalist, etc.
But what Jill Greenberg is doing makes me want to throw up. And it shouldn’t be allowed. I’m torn about even posting this post because she is obviously using her art as an excuse to do something horrible and is looking for publicity and response and that’s exactly what I’m giving her here. But I’m hoping that through others being made aware of what she is doing that somehow pressure might be borne to stop it from happening.
So what is Jill Greenberg doing? She is taking babies, toddlers under three years old, stripping them of their clothes and then provoking them to various states of emotional distress, anger, rage etc. — so that she can then take photos of them this way to “illustrate her personal beliefs.” If you’d like to see how worked up she can get these kids you can click through here. Be warned that it is graphic. Although the children are not sexualized, I consider what she is doing child pornography of the worst kind.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to a photographer capturing all emotions of humans. I think that capturing the tears of a child that naturally take place all the time (believe me, as a father of four I know) is one thing. But for her to say that she “manipulates her subjects to evoke an emotion,” and then citing things like giving them a lollipop and then taking it away from them just to see them cry and get angry and then shoot them, this is just wrong.
Irrespective of her statement as an artist this is evil. And it is evil to collect these images of children who through the bad judgment of their parents ultimately have no say.
When the Michael Jackson trial was going on people kept saying, what kind of parents would let their child spend the night alone in a room with Michael Jackson. It seemed absurd. And it seems absurd that any parent who loved their child would purposely take their children to Greenberg’s studio to then be tormented to the point of emotional outrage.
We should all be outraged by this horrible woman who has sought to somehow justify her actions under some kind of artistic immunity. This is not art, this is child abuse. It is the purposeful action of creating anger in a beautiful child for the sadistic purpose of making a name for herself as a pop artist.
I’m not sure what can be done about Greenberg. I’m not sure if the law would in fact define child abuse as purposefully inflicting emotional pain on a child but something should be done and this is not something that we as an enlightened society should tolerate.
I’m willing to generally give artists a great deal of latitude. But this is sick. As a parent I’m outraged and as a human being this is wrong. This little boy breaks my heart. I’m not sure how to stop this but it needs to be stopped.
Update: Jill Greenberg’s husband, Robert Greenberg responds: i’m married to the artist in question. with that said, some facts: jill did not “abuse” the children, nor abuse them. they were given lollipops, and then those were removed from the kids. jill didn’t speak to them–the parents were there monitoring the whole time. this is the EXACT technique used in ads and movies and TV. i’m a producer in two of those mediums and have been through this before, so i know whereof i speak.
some of these kids are our daughter’s friends, some of them are in fact…duh duh duh…our own daughter. they still come over for playdates. they don’t seem any worse for wear.
the pictures have spoken to you, evoked pain and anguish–that, i must say, was jill’s intention. i’m not in agreement with your argument as much as its foundation is on the facts–you obviously didn’t know them.
that said, an opinion is an opinion. i just think, in this age of snap judgements and instant analysis, that we should all do our part to do as much research as possible before making very harsh accusations. jill ‘s methods are described by her on her gallerists website–you even link to it!
anyway, my two cents, but i’m (very) biased.