I have often believed that the essence of great images begins with simplicity. Of course, that is a personal view, there are photographers who specialize and excel in deeply complex images. Personally, however, the images that stand out in my mind are always the simple ones. If I am tasked with having to understand symbology and meanng in a photograph, then it no longer seems photographic, and that is what I love about photography, that with a single glimpse of a great, simplified image, you can communicate something extraordinary. This is what I aspire to.
The nude figure, is one of the most simple and most used subjects in photography and art, in general. Yet, since returning the the USA in February, it also seems to be dangerous. What is the threat of fine art nude imagery? Why do we cower at the thought of seeing someone nude? Why have we become so ashamed of something so pure and simple?
I have heard the arguments that we don’t want to harm children, that nudity is associated with porn, that it is immoral, embarrassing, etc., but those arguments seem placed in ignorance. How could a child be harmed by nudity, unless they have been told that it is wrong? Why do we lump artistic nudity with porn, is it because porn contains nudity so therefore all nudity is wrong?
Having lived in Europe for twelve years, it’s interesting to me that people in the USA are so offended by nudity. In the USA, we have more graphic violence in our movies and tv shows, we are inundated daily with sexuality in advertising, we have rampant problems with sexual assault and sex crimes, yet Americans seem to look down on Europeans, at least in part, because they are laid back about sexuality and nudity. Here in the USA, people may stand on high ground, but time and time again, those people who were on the soap boxes denouncing nudity and sex as dangerous are the same people who cheat on their wives, sleep with prostitutes and molest children.
In Europe, nudity is no big deal, sex is something that is fun and to be enjoyed. Of course, no society is perfect, but when it comes to attitudes about nudity and sex, people in Europe are rarely offended by tasteful and artistic representations of the human form. Here in the USA, it’s a completely different story.
I want to know what you think? Is nudity dangerous, should we protect ourselves from such offensive depictions, or are we simply being over-sensitive?
Leave a comment, here or on my Facebook page. Let me know your thoughts.