“Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”
– Potter Stewart
I think it’s time to get a little deeper for this post. As a great part of my body of work, I regularly photograph the female form. To the casual onlooker, this is a dream job, and I get many requests for assistants along with other common comments such as, “is your wife really okay with that?” When you are around nudity as much as I am, you start seeing things from a different set of glasses. The world shifts a bit, and some of it very frustrating.
I live in North Carolina. I instantly recognize that I am not where I am supposed to be (location), as my work would be more accepted in places like NY. That is okay, and I do not let it deter me. The first immediate impression that I find when they learn what I do is an instant judgement. Some feel it is a perversion, some are taken aback and become polite yet cautious, and yes, there are some that are perfectly fine without it, and these individuals I love speaking with because I feel that actually appreciate what I do, which then gives justification that I am doing some thing right.
I was once told to look around and see where I was. So at that moment I did just that. It was a photography school, which has an art gallery and I began to wonder why an institution who teaches photography would dare censor another photographer for the very art they promote? I questioned that perhaps this program didn’t see photography as an art, but that couldn’t be it, because they had the art gallery. There was also a photographic history program which was not shy in linking the nude to photographic history. I began to wonder why historically the nude is attributed to photography but the present is still as shy about it as the past was. I began to ponder the phrase that kept repeating in my head, “If everything is the way it was, how can change occur?”
I had a conversation and was asked why I even cared, as I’m not a female and should not have a stake in promoting women as a form of strength and beauty as opposed to their sexuality. Being around models, I can tell you it takes a mentally strong woman to pose nude, and to do so with confidence. There is nothing weak about the nude model, and likewise, I want to do her justice by capturing some of that essence in my work. In thinking on the question about why I cared, I realized I actually did not need an answer. I could state a number of reasons, primarily the fact that I should be allowed to show work that I am proud of to the general public, such as Facebook, without censorship. The simple fact that I did care about the reduction of censorship and also to promote the female figure as a form of art in photography where it has historically faced more challenges than a painting or drawing was all I really needed.
It all is a little puzzling, as everyone offended with nudity has to get out of the shower and see a nude every day. The problem is not with nudity itself, but rather than the perceived sexualizion of the nude form. When that person steps out of the shower, not a thought is given because that moment is not sexualized. All nudity is not equal, and my goal is to help bring light and further past attempts of education to that fact.
Change cannot occur without change.