Friday, August 18, 2006

Here's an article on Jill from a German newspaper. She also appeared on RTL's version of Inside Edition--i'm hoping to upload a video of this soon.

aus der Süddeutsche Zeitung Nr.172 Seite 15
from Süddeutsche Zeitung No.172 page 15
the Süddeutsche is one of Germany's biggest daily newspapers with an average print run of 440.000 issues per day.

rough translation of the article:

If one steals lollipops from kids: the controversial photos of Jill Greenberg

To give the little ones some candy and take it away right away, that usually does it. Sometimes even that wasn't needed, says photographer Jill Greenberg who made children between the age of two to three cry for her photo series »End Times«. Often the fact that the kids had to stand on a pedestal in the bright studio light without a t-shirt, surrounded by strangers, was enough to make them cry like crazy. And a minute later everything was fine again.
All tears are real only the dramatic lights and the shiny skin of her models were enhanced on the computer by the photographer. The pictures from the series »End Times« were on exhibition in the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles until July; they will be seen in New York in 2007. But they seem to show more than the moment of aggravation over a withdrawn lollipop. The frustration seems to transform into theatric exasperation, despair and anger through the aesthetic exaggeration. That's what the artist wants to toy with. She gives her series an explicit political meaning opposing the Bush administration and names her portraits »Four more years«, »Intelligent design« or »Misinformation«. The pictures remind Greenberg of »the despair and anger i feel myself about the political and social state of affairs«. Others see something more explosive behind the rage-distorted faces of the kids: abuse.
Is it fair to make children cry just to take pictures of them afterwards? The American Blogger Andrew Peterson started, under his internet alias Thomas Hawk, a discussion in April that still continues: »Jill Greenberg is a Sick Woman Who Should Be Arrested and Charged With Child Abuse«, writes Peterson. Other Bloggers joined him. What followed was strong scolding, Hitler comparisons, threats, pornographic accusations. Greenberg and her husband threatened with legal measures agains libel and exposed the identities of their worst critics. »As a mother, I am quite aware of how easily toddlers can cry.« writes Greenberg in a press release. »A joyful smile can dissolve into a grimace of despair.« Supposedly none of the kids was hurt. Many of the young models are children of friends of the photographer, one of the pictured girls is her own daughter.
American Photo Magazine calls the exhibition the most controversial photo exhibition of the year. Never did they receive so much feedback, the editor in chief told the L.A.Times. The discussion forums on the website of American Photo Magazine had to be closed. Also the sudden attention benefitted Greenberg. Just the page views of the gallery website, where all the pictures can still be seen, increased by 270% - on some days the site has 14000 visitors. Meanwhile a department store has inquired about the rights to the series - to use the pictures for advertising.


  1. Anonymous1:33 PM

    "Abuse" is one of those trendy, fashionable things that people like to get worked up about. I've never been convinced that a lot of the people who kick up a stink about these sort of things do it out of genuine concern - if they were concerned they'd check their facts and think a bit more rationally. I'm sure a lot of it is that it's 'the thing' to complain about, and makes them feel like they're doing something. Kids will cry over the silliest of things - and I bet most of them were having a whale of a time for most of the shoot. I hope common sense prevails for you.

    Mori (

  2. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Mr. Green,

    I want to keep you well informed. I have not thoughts of annoying you.

    Rheinische Post, 04.08.06
    The "Rheinische Post" is one of Germany's biggest daily newspapers with an average print run of 400.000 issues per day.
    rough translation of the article by extract (leaving out the known)

    Is it allowed to make toddlers cry on purpose so you can register the expected emotions on a photograph?
    The german photographer Thomas Ruff from Dusseldorf: "It's a perfidious (perfide) way of producing pictures. Those pictures produced in series with the same light do not show something authentic. That is not art." In his opinion the pictures look like a series of experiments in completely contradiction to his view of photography. "It seems to me that somebody tried to do something new in a convulsive way, something you can sell as well to admen. But no one is allowed to deal with toddlers this way, that is abuse (Mißbrauch) with an art-label."

    The German Kinderschutzbund (union for child-protection) condemned the work of Jill Greenberg: "We think that this is an assault on man's dignity", said speaker Birgit Pohl. "There is no reason for giving something to children and then taking it away, those are dishonest methods."

    Your wife appeared on RTL's version of Inside Edition, you are hoping to upload a video of this soon. Unfortunately the report ended with an inquiry just showing rejection of the questioned persons and finished with the remark: "She wants $4500 for a picture, the parents were given $400. She would better go on shooting apes." I have read the whole stuff of the controversy. Sorry seems to be the hardest word in America. Mr. Green, I have no right to interfere with your view of upbreeding kids. Just let me say, with my heart, that we all as parents on this small planet have to learn all the time, we have to read books and magazines about education, if we really love our children who are totally dependent on our wise decisions. Your wife said that toddlers would cry without reason, your daughter would cry all the time without reason...please read "The little Prince", for the benefit of your little prince and your princess.

    Rosa Stork

  3. rosa

    no worries, opinions vary on the quality of this art (though of course any artist dreams of both the amount of discussion and debate about their work, as it is ultimately a sign of impact). i'm just bemused that it bothers people that jill makes money off the work. what a crime! as well, people who decry the methods used rarely seem to know what they are, and are thus ill-informed.

    thanks for your interest.