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Encyclopedia > Eli Langer
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Artist, born in Montreal, Canada in 1967. In 1993 Eli Langer rose to prominence in the Toronto art world with a solo exhibition at the Mercer Union Gallery in Toronto. The exhibition consisted of 34 paintings and drawings of children under the age of 18 engaged in sexual relations with adults. Langer's exhibition at the Mercer coincided with the addition of s. 163.1 (the "Child Pornography" section) to the Canadian Criminal Code. The new section of the Criminal Code forbids any depiction of a person under the age of 18 engaged in an explicit sexual activity or for a sexual purpose. The law makes no distinction between works of the imagination and works that are based on reality. Eli Langer, and the director of the Mercer Union Gallery were arrested by Toronto police, however, ultimately the paintings were the only thing put on trial. The art community rose to Langer's defence, well renowned figures of the art world such as Michael Snow, Avrom Isaacs and the Dennis Reid (a former curator of the National Gallery) testified that the works exhibited at the Mercer Union had "artistic merit" (a defence provided by s. 163.1 of the Criminal Code). Ultimately the works were exhonerated and returned to Eli Langer. Langer has never lived up to the notoriety that his arrest in 1993 surrounded him with. In his works after Mercer he appears to have consciously steered very far from anything that could be potentially controversial. Langer's most recent show entitled "The Truth About Los Angeles" features abstract paintings in pastel colours, but no discernible human forms.


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CCLA Positions (544 words)
Langer's insistence that no actual children were used as models in the production of the material at issue; he has said that his work was the product of his imagination.
Langer's assurances that no actual children were abused in the course of producing his work.
Langer's statements and disclosed a reasonable basis for considering his work to contain artistic merit, we ask the Attorney General to stay the charges.
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