Photo by Xanthos/News
So, who missed the “Strip Therapy” article making its rounds on the interwebs? I don’t have much to say about this the article that’s not in it. There’s a lady who does therapy sessions where she strips. She’s not a licensed therapist, and this isn’t an approved method. But it is simply brilliant, I say. Bruces know I’m generally in a better state for honest self-evaluation when naked women are nearby. It’s the madly brilliant sort of thing that you wouldn’t have heard of in decades past, more or less been covered by a news agency with that picture there as lead for the article. I continue to stand firmly on the side of loosening our hangups about sex and sexuality in this culture, and breaking away from the notion that all nudity must be pornography, and that all nudity must be demeaning and base.
I’m not sure what this means on a serious level, but I approve of the spirit.
Anyway. Naked ladies never hurt my feelings, and you can hit the external link to see a video of Ms Sarah White in action.
Found this on Reddit:
We decided to try out a new Mexican restuarant in town. After being seated, I drew her attention to a cast Metal picture of a shirtless Mayan warrior carrying a nude woman.
“Hey, check out the porn on the wall.”
“It’s not porn.” She said ” It’s art”
“What? There’s metal boobs right there, what makes it art and not porn.” I asked.
“If you can add a naked midget and it doesn’t seem completely out of place, it’s porn. If there was a naked midget standing behind them, what would you say?”
“Probably something along the lines of. What the fuck, why is there a naked midget?”
“Then it’s Art.”
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.
OK, so, let me start by saying this: I have no problems with pornography, moral or otherwise. A fact which my parents will disapprove of, but a fact nonetheless. I figure if I throw that out now I can avoid a few accusations of basing the rest of what I’m going to say on puritanical values.
So, onwards to the meat of the thing. I’m working in the background on preparing a special body of work to execute next year. A primary, underlying/over-riding theme in the work is that of sexuallity. Not of orientation, but of the basics of sex as lust, sex as power, sex as enlightenment, sex as desire, sex as obscenity, so on, so forth. And I’m doing the whole series photographically. Which means I need models, which means shopping on Model Mayhem. And, while it’s a useful tool, it’s also something of the MySpace of the photo world and you’ll find more aspiring ‘models’ on there showing enough skin to make a few nude beaches look stodgy.
And that leads me to the following bold statement: if you cannot define, in words, how the nudity of a subject adds critical meaning to a piece that could not be conveyed in other manners, then it’s not art. It’s just voyeurism.
I’m not saying voyeurism is bad. Mankind would be in a right sorry place if we didn’t like seeing attractive members of the appropriate gender run around unclothed. But, contrary to popular belief, just talking a gal out of her clothes and sticking her in front of a crumbling wall does not make something art. It makes it a naked girl in front of a wall. Sorry, that’s it. Naked girl, wall. There we go.
And, I’ll admit, it’s a difficult stance to take, given that I’m rather fond of well-done nudes myself. And, it’s not like nudes aren’t basically the most recognized artistic subject ever (try flipping through an art history book without finding nudes), but let’s be honest: sometimes even a well-done nude is just a well done nude. It doesn’t make it any more art than a painting of a deer in the woods in the snow (a popularly derided ‘sofa art’ subject).
So, instead of taking shitty pictures, photogs out there, and calling it art because you worked some nipples into it, I challenge you to try and find what the nudity adds to the meaning. If the piece would work just the same (emotion, light, color), if a little less erection-inducing, with the model clothed, then you didn’t make art. You made a picture. Any schmuck can do that these days. Be better.