No Embarrassment (exhibition)
Artist: Jock Sturges
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: Russia and Central Asia
Location: Moscow, Russia
Confronting Bodies: pro-Kremlin Senators; members of the non-government org, Officers of Russia
Description of Artwork: The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, a private gallery in Moscow, hosted an exhibition of American photographer Jock Sturges's series of photographs entitled, "No Embarrassment," captures life in nudist colonies. The work included a number of nude photos of young girls.
The Incident: There were many negative responses to the work. Senator Yelena Mizulina said that the exhibition included images of young girls in the nude, which qualified as child abuse and pedophilia. Children’s Rights Commissioner Anna Kuznetsova seconded Mizulina's description of Sturges’ art as “child pornography” and requested an investigation of the exhibition by prosecutors. Representatives from the Lumiere Brothers Center updated the description of the exhibition on their website to read: “The naked models in show are adult women of legal age.”
While many of the nude models for the works were underage, the photographs still don't fit the definition of child pornography according to Russian law:
"Russian Criminal Code. Article 242.1. Note 2. Materials and objects containing images or descriptions of a minor's sexual organs are not considered child pornography if such materials and objects have historical, artistic or cultural value, or are intended to be used for scientific or medical purposes, or educational activities in accordance with federal law." (via Global Voices, 9/27/2016)
Sturges said that all of the photos were taken with consent of both the models and their parents, but this confirmation was not enough to prevent people from objecting to the material. A group of men from Officers of Russia, an organization which is comprised of 100,000 veteran and active officers, stormed the gallery. One of the men threw urine at the photographs as a sign of protest.
Results of Incident: In response, the Lumiere Brothers Center prematurely closed the exhibition. Sturges was surprised and upset by the gallery's decision to bow to censors.
‘No Embarrassment’ Photo Exhibition in Moscow Ends Early Under Pressure From Conservative Activists, Global Voices, 9/27/2016
Moscow gallery closes US photography exhibit after protester throws urine, The Guardian, 9/26/2016