So, recently I posted my somewhat unexpected stance (especially from me) that nudity does not make something artsy. Last night, I was discussing it with my pal Nakul and his friend Ash, both of them distinctly opinionated and interesting debate companions. And, I suppose to make the point clear, I do think that nudity can be art, I’m just saying it isn’t by default. A square is a rhombus, a rhombus doesn’t have to be a square, yadda yadda.
But, I wanted to illustrate this point to them with a work last night and couldn’t find it. Lucky for me I have the advantage of time and internet tonight, and was able to scrounge up this photo from Noah Kalina. Without a doubt Noah Kalina is my favorite artist working in photography right now (wanna know why? start by looking here, here, here, here, and especially here). And, part of why he’s my favorite is that, despite having more topless women than a strip bar, whenever he breaks out the skin it’s always breathtaking, interesting, or so at odds with the rest of the photo that you spend the next twenty seconds trying to figure out why that girl has no shirt on. And, while it’s a trick he uses time and time again, somehow he keeps shifting the context so that while you can start skimming past them faster, it’s rare that any of them are such that you can offhandedly dismiss them.
Case in point, this screwball shot with the topless brunette on a hillside with a Big Gulp. The day I figure out exactly what this means is the day I’ll finally decide to finish reading Finnegan’s Wake. After all, the infamously complex novel might be easy sailing if I can decipher this. But that’s the magic. If the girl were clothed, this would still be a good shot for the art world (the commercial world would of course scoff it away immediately, and that’s a shame). But she’s not clothed, and that adds the extra impetus to stick with the photo, and it keeps adding back into the off-kilter atmosphere. It brings something unexpected to the scene, and just as unexplained. It adds mystery, and mystery is good.