An artist facing child pornography charges has been selected to show work in a prestigious exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
Melbourne artist Paul Yore is among 13 young artists whose work will be shown in this year’s Primavera, the MCA announced on Wednesday.
Yore is facing charges of producing and possessing child pornography, related to the seizure of his work from a Melbourne gallery last year. His case was listed for mention in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday but was adjourned until August.
The artist was charged with one count each of making or producing and knowingly possessing child pornography, related to photographic images that were removed from his exhibition, Everything is F---ed, at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts.
The work paid homage to controversial artist Mike Brown and allegedly contained collages depicting sexual acts with children's faces superimposed on them.
In contrast, Yore’s work for the MCA appears to be G-rated and consist of three large textiles in rainbow colours bearing slogans such as “It was all a dream” and “Welcome to Hell”. It will not depict naked children in sexually suggestive poses.
The MCA’s assistant director, audiences and creative learning, Heather Robertson, said the gallery had strong standards around ensuring that material does not depict children in a sexually suggestive manner.
“The MCA is acutely aware of this incredibly important issue and does not condone it any way,” she said. “As a museum, we take our duty of care very seriously.”
But the MCA’s assistant director, curatorial and digital, Blair French, defended the artist’s inclusion in Primavera.
“The MCA believes that artists such as Paul Yore are a driving force for creativity and that contemporary art should always be a medium for artists to convey cultural freedom and creative expression,” he said. “The MCA also believes that the offending elements must be viewed in the context of the installation.”
Another installation by Yore was removed from display at the 2013 Sydney Contemporary art fair because it would have broken NSW criminal laws.
"Our decision with regard to the installation is about the law of the land and they are on the wrong side of it," the fair’s chief executive Barry Keldoulis told Fairfax Media last year.
"When we saw the work we recognised the issues and sought legal advice which confirmed the work offends various relevant provisions in the Crimes Act Legislation in NSW.”
Yore was selected by the show’s guest curator, artist Mikala Dwyer, whose Goldene Bend'er show at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art last year included a live performance of hooded dancers invited to defecate in front of an audience.
Dwyer said: “I have chosen Paul Yore because he is an excellent young artist. I find deeply intriguing his extraordinary ability to process and transform huge expanses of capitalist rubble into political, magical and almost spiritual zones of contemplation.”
Primavera has been held every year at the MCA since 1992. It was established by the Jackson family in memory of their daughter Belinda, an artist and designer who died in 1990, aged 29.
This year’s exhibition opens in September and is sponsored by Hugo Boss and the Nelson Meers Foundation.
Yore’s gallery and Hugo Boss Australia have been approached for comment.