Well here I am again, all my pretenses at intellectualism being blown away. I have about half a dozen, not quite related but yet not unrelated, subjects stirring around in my head. I have so much to say that I can’t decide where to begin and then I wind up not writing at all.
A few days ago, makagutu wrote a thought provoking post about nudity and art, or at least it provoked thoughts in me. The vast majority of my paintings are of nudes and, although I don’t have a problem with nudity, I’m aware that other people do. Once, I was asked to be in an exhibition. The people organizing the exhibition had no restrictions on what could, or couldn’t, be shown. However, the space they were using was located in a state park and the state park service did not permit depictions of nudity. Somehow, I’m always finding that I’m dancing around the fact that there are naked people in my paintings. On the one hand, I feel that I should paint what I want and that other people’s notions of propriety shouldn’t have any bearing. On the other hand, nothing I do is motivated by the desire to “frapper la bourgeosie.”
In the situation makagutu was discussing, it was a priest who was decrying nakedness in art. The priest then goes on to say that “Nakedness is sinful in itself….” I’m tempted to suggest that this is absurd, but, as I was reading a comment below the post in which someone also mentioned sin, I became aware that I really do not understand the concept. It’s a word I’ve heard all my life, yet it is, if not entirely meaningless, strangely vague and hollow.
So, how much consideration should I give to the feelings of people with whom I most certainly do not agree? I dance around that question even on this blog, although I set this blog up as a space for myself.
How can nakedness be sinful “in itself”? As makagutu mentioned, we are all naked in the shower, and at other moments that are far from sinful. It is only within a social context that we can even start discussing it. The commenter who mentioned sin mentioned it in the context of temptation and lust. Narcissism aside, we generally don’t lust after ourselves. I don’t know about other people, but I’m quite capable of having sexual desires with or without exposure to depictions of nudity.
On the other hand, I hate defending nudity by saying, “Oh, well it’s not sexual,” because that would seem to concede that sexuality is a problem, when I do not believe that it is.
I actually put the tag line that I chose at the top of my blog, not because I talk about sex so much, but because if I do I want to be able to say whatever is on my mind with out anyone complaining that they’ve been “frappé.”
The vast majority should not look if they find your paintings offensive. Although you don’t have a problem with nudity, others do so they should not attend. Quite simple really? Loved the link !
Reading your post, it occurred to me that most religious people have a great cognitive dissonance on this issue. Since as they believe the genesis story to be true, it is evident that god intended man to be naked and only offers clothing once they ate the fruit of knowledge of good and bad. Even acknowledging that this verse can have a metaphorical reading, one will still be hard pressed why the creator would rely on fashionistas to hide that which while he was creating he thought was good.
On the second issue, when people link nudity with sexuality and begin to say it leads to lust and so on, they must admit that they think man/woman is nothing but sexual objects or they must provide a proper justification for their objections.