This guest post is written by Elizabeth Fleming. Last month I had the pleasure of joining friend and fellow photographer Jonathan Blaustein on a tour of the Chelsea gallery scene as he conducted research for an APE article, which can be read in its entirety here. We decided to stop by Aperture and wandered into their back room where, tucked into what was essentially a chink in the wall, several photographs by the controversial Jock Sturges were on display. Before I had my own children I never cared much about him one way or the other, but now his images struck me as distressingly sexualized and, frankly, unsettling. I soon discovered that my uneasy feelings were not groundless: I found Sturges to be strangely silent on the topic of how he feels his work functions in a contemporary setting, and I learned that he had at one point had an affair with an underage girl, making the question of age and beauty that much more suspect. Certainly images must first be viewed on their own merit, but after we have detached ourselves from preconceived notions about the meaning of the work based on the fame or notoriety or lack thereof of the maker and the particulars of place and time in which the work was made, there is always an underlying context. Sturges is a photographer who is nothing if not notorious.
Jock Sturges – Radiant Identities and Fanny
A pro-Kremlin protester threw urine at 'naked' pictures taken by US photographer Jock Sturges as opponents forced the closure of his Moscow exhibition which they branded 'paedophilia' and 'child pornography'. A leading senator along with Vladimir Putin's children's ombudsman spoke out against the images, while a strong grouping from a little-known group called Officers of Russia, some wearing military fatigues, blocked entry to the gallery where his work was portrayed. After the exhibition was closed, journalists were shown the pictures, and a man in a leather jacket poured a plastic bottle filled with urine on some of the photographs. A man is arrested after a bottle of urine was thrown at the photographs on display. Our culture should be Russian. We don't need European culture here,' said the protester before he was handed over to police. The exhibition's supporters claim the forced closure is another example of censorship in Putin's Russia, with gallery curator Natalia Litvinskaya insisting the show had 'nothing to do with paedophilia'. She suspended it due to 'threats from absolutely delusional people', but she said there were no demands from the police or the authorities to shut it.
(American, born 1947)
It is definitely a thumbs up from me Utatans. Iron Photographer was indeed Warning — This discussion includes nude photographs The name of Jock Sturges will always be interlinked with accusations of child pornography. Jock Sturges makes portraits. Yet his subjects are so relaxed and comfortable with him…and with themselves…that the photographs have a simple, casual quality.
When talking about nudes, one cannot but mention Jock Sturges photos somewhere in the conversation. The New York-born, American photographer and his works have been marked as taboo numerous times, mostly due to the fact that he often depicts nude adolescents and their families. This Marlboro College graduate has received an MFA in photography from the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute, and his career is the one surrounded by controversy. One of the most debatable issues about his oeuvre is the choice of subjects that occupy his photographs, the aforementioned nude adolescents who primarily live in communes in Northern California and the naturist resort on the Atlantic coast called CHM Montalivet in France.