- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

Elton’s controversial pic

Elton John said yesterday that he owns a photograph of two naked girls taken by award-winning photographer Nan Goldin that was seized by police at a British gallery over concerns it amounted to child pornography.

According to Associated Press, Mr. John confirmed ownership of “Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing” in a statement on his Web site. He said it is among 149 images making up Miss Goldin’s “Thanksgiving” installation.

Northumbria police said the photo was taken from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead in northeastern England. They confirmed Tuesday that an image had been taken from an exhibit “to assess whether or not an offense had been committed.”

Both Miss Goldin and the gallery have declined comment. The gallery alerted police to Miss Goldin’s photograph on the eve of an exhibition featuring her work that opened Friday.

Mr. John purchased the “Thanksgiving” installation in 1999, his statement says.

“The photograph exists as part of the installation as a whole and has been widely published and exhibited throughout the world,” the 60-year-old rocker said.

“It can be found in the monograph of Ms. Goldin’s works entitled ‘The Devil’s Playground’ (Phaidon, 2003), has been offered for sale at Sotheby’s New York in 2002 and 2004, and has previously been exhibited in Houston, London, Madrid, New York, Portugal, Warsaw and Zurich without any objections of which we are aware.”

Miss Goldin’s frank and often sexually explicit work has drawn critical acclaim as well as police attention. In 2001, London police demanded that the Saatchi Gallery remove one of Miss Goldin’s photographs, saying it was indecent. The gallery refused, and officials later backed down, saying there was no realistic prospect of securing a conviction in the case.

Usher, wife expecting baby boy

Newlyweds Usher and Tameka Foster are going to have a boy, People magazine reported Tuesday.

When asked what he’s looking forward to most about being a new dad, Usher, 28, said “I just want my son to fully be coherent and to be healthy, first and foremost.”

Ma’s road less traveled

Yo-Yo Ma is hitting the road — the Silk Road to China.

It’s the first time since 2001 that the cellist has taken his Silk Road Project to that key region of the ancient trade route, which stretched from Europe to the Far East.

This time, it will be playing at Tuesday’s opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics in Shanghai, five days before Mr. Ma’s 52nd birthday on Oct. 7. Over the subsequent 10 days, Mr. Ma and his colleagues will give concerts and workshops in Suzhou, Hong Kong and at Beijing’s Forbidden City, performing some of the songs on their newly released best-selling CD “New Impossibilities,” AP reports.

Born to Chinese parents in France, Mr. Ma moved to America as a boy and studied anthropology at Harvard. He started the Silk Road Project in 1998 as a way of discovering similarities in diverse cultures and increasing understanding.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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