We’ve probably all read about and seen photos of Monday’s mass nude photo shoot at the Sydney Opera House conducted by American artist/photographer Spencer Tunick. These images, like all good art, got me thinking.
I’d be the first to say that unless the subject is honed and toned I don’t (generally) find the human body anything to write home about. At times it looks slightly ridiculous and at times quite honestly a bit off-putting. When I saw these images however I found them quite ‘refreshing’ (sorry – couldn’t think of a more appropriate word). I don’t know about you but I’m getting heartily sick of the almost global obsession with s6x. Our approach, outside of tribal society, can (making a sweeping generality here) be divided into two camps:
1] We tittivate to the nth degree and show virtually everything (often ludicrously surgically inflated beyond all normal proportions). I say ‘virtually everything’ because it seems that anything goes, just so long as it doesn’t expose those few square inches of ‘the most relevant bits’, or
2] We insist that the female of the species is covered from head to toe in yards and yards of billowing material for fear of inciting and inviting unwanted attention.
Now I’m not advocating here that we all go around in the nude. I can see several problems:
1] Most of us would find it too cold
2] Some, if not most of us, (me included) look rather better with material covering our wobbly bits
3] Hairy backs and bottoms (usually the preserve of the male of the species) would be on show and I feel they are better kept covered up
4] If a chap sees a good-looking girl things can get embarrassing (are you catching my drift?) …clothes can have a useful function in preserving the blushes of both.
What I do like however is an acceptance that we are all, underneath it all, naked apes, all looking remarkably similar. These nude photo shoots emphasise our similarities, quite literally stripping away all the outer gubbins that divides us on a day-to-day basis. It struck me that when we watch footage on TV of tribal societies where nudity is the norm we don’t (unless we’re under 10 or incredibly puerile) giggle and point. So how come we have such a nuts attitude to the human body in our societies where clothes are the norm? The only answer I can come up with is that we don’t see naked bodies often enough to just accept that under the clothes that is what we all look like and it’s really no big deal.
As one participant in Monday’s photoshoot put it: “It doesn’t feel sxual, it just feels tribal, a gathering of humanity”. Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Now how can we perpetuate that? I have absolutely no idea. But I wish I did.