Entertainment & Arts

LaChapelle: Naked transgender poster 'not pornographic'

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Media captionWATCH: David LaChapelle on how he worked as a prostitute in New York

Photographer David LaChapelle has defended his poster art featuring a naked transgender model with breasts and male genitalia.

It was produced to promote one of the biggest HIV/Aids benefits in the world.

Critics have branded the posters, which have gone up in the Austrian capital, Vienna, as pornographic.

But Mr LaChapelle told the BBC he had only wanted to enlighten people: "I never meant to cause any shock or harm."

The Vienna-based charity Life Ball asked Mr LaChapelle to do the artwork.

The posters featured transgender model Carmen Carrera in a biblical garden. The text reads: "I am Adam. I am Eve. I am me."

But it was their prominence that upset a number of critics.

They were posted on streets, bus stops, railway stations, and billboards around Vienna ahead of the Life Ball charity benefit held at the end of May.

Dark ages

Austria's far-right Freedom Party has now launched a campaign to sue the organisers of the event, arguing the posters were pornographic.

But Mr LaChapelle, told the BBC's HARDtalk programme: "It is not an erotic photograph. It is not pornographic."

And he rejected any suggestion the image was unsuitable for a billboard: "They can't walk by a naked women, but why do we allow them to play video games that are violent?

"We are really in the dark ages. The body is shameful and yet killing and torture is entertainment.

"That is the real pornography. That is the real evil and that is the real darkness.

"Just because she is different, what are you offended about? Are you offended about the breasts or the male genitalia?"

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Image caption LaChapelle's artwork - covered by graffiti at this bus stop - has been criticised for its prominence

The original piece of artwork will be auctioned off, with proceeds going towards the Aids Solidarity Gala and charity.

Mr LaChapelle, has a new exhibition, Once in the Garden, which has just opened in Vienna.

He also has an exhibition continuing at London's Barbican Gallery.

Mr LaChapelle is also well known for his photography of celebrities and politicians on the international stage including Elton John, Pharrell Williams, Naomi Campbell, Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga and Kanye West.

You can see the full interview with David LaChapelle on HARDtalk on Monday, 9 June on BBC World News at 03:30, 08;30, 14:30 and 20:30 GMT and on the BBC News Channel on Tuesday 10 June at 00:30 BST.

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