NYU wants to display the archives of artist Larry Rivers, documenting the city’s artistic and literary scenes of the ’40s through the ’80s. There’s also footage of his two nude adolescent daughters as he interviews them about their bodies, starting at as young as 11.
Filming took place every six months for five years and then was edited into a 45 film, “Growing.” Emma Tamburlini, the younger daughter, now 43, wants the tapes returned to her and her sister (who’s given no comment.) She wants the film destroyed, but NYU plans to keep the footage and “to protect the material” until the daughters are dead.
Tamburlini says she was forced to participate and is naturally reluctant to have New Yorkers gandering at close-ups of her underage genitals. Legally, since she never consented to the videotaping, she may have the right to have the tapes destroyed.
“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,” Tamburlini says.
Is this documented abuse? Is it rare and enlightening art? Artists are allowed to tote the line, more or less — Sally Mann, Irina Ionesco, Jock Sturges, Bill Henson — but in terms of the intent of Larry Rivers’s “footage,” it just sounds creepy and not particularly artistic.