The Austinist has posted an interview with photographer Celesta Dangar to its website. You may recall from my previous post that Dangar is Hoover’s partner and the photographer behind the photographs that sparked a controversy in Austin, Texas:
There’s been a bit of controversy surrounding Austin High art teacher Tamara Hoover — maybe you’ve read a thing or two about it. Hoover has appeared on local and national news telling her side of the story, to the extent that her lawyer will allow her, obviously. While we’d read a lot about Hoover’s case, we’d yet to see much information from the photographer involved in the legal imbroglio; so we decided to sit down with photographer Celesta Danger to get her side of the story. We discussed her photography, her feelings regarding Hoover’s dismissal and the role of flickr in the controversy. What follows is our interview with Celesta.
This interview sheds light on an important side of the story, the woman behind the lens who seeks to publish her art and to be appreciated for her work. Unfortunately there has been so much attention focussed on the nude photographs that Dangar has been branded a pornographer and yet there is little comment on the bulk of her work. It must be a tremendously frustrating process for her and you can see some of that frustration emerge from the interview:
Were you surprised by the backlash of this pseudo-morality that people have been wearing as an excuse for their anger or whatever?
Not at all. It’s view of the world that I believe things happen because they should. When you look past what people are doing and see what they are really doing, it’s not a big fucking deal. What I find the most disturbing about the situation and what has happened at this moment is that I can’t take pictures like I did [before], of mostly her, every day. It just really sucked all the fun out of it, because I can’t post them right now. People are on a mad witch hunt to find pictures of the “naked teacher.?? And people are ganking my pictures left and right, creating fake profiles, saying they’re Tamara and they’re getting into porn. It’s been very ridiculous, [some] people have been very lascivious and crude. I get a lot of emails and comments about it, like, “where’s the fucking naked teacher??? This is what people are looking for; they’re not going to the site to appreciate the work. That’s very disappointing, because although I’m getting all this attention, I am the “pornographer??.
There is much talk about moral standards and Hoover has been accused of being severely lacking in that department because she posed for nude or semi-nude photographs which Dangar then published along with her other works. I find this argument to be weak at best and Hoover herself answers this allegation quite well, in my view:
[That lawyer] said that teachers should be held to higher moral standards and they should be role models, and Tamara interjects, “I believe teachers should be good role models, and I believe that I am a good role model. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’ve never done drugs, I’m a vegan, I don’t talk about my co-workers, and I’m nice to people. I’m a good role model!” And then the other attorney made a very interesting point: she said, “Well, what happens when a teacher has an abortion? Are you gonna fire her because that doesn’t fit in with your moral standards?”
This whole case says more about Hoover’s accusers and their standards than it does about Hoover’s morals and what it says is not good.