The Naked Eyeful

Andrew Stephens wonders why the public continues to be outraged by nude art.
Much is said and written about our increased visual literacy in an image-flooded culture but perhaps we are actually becoming less able to read images sensitively and accurately because the opportunity for serious contemplation has diminished? And perhaps we have trouble distinguishing photography - given its overwhelming currency - as an art medium? If these things are so, nudity in art might be easily and mistakenly conflated with sex - or with pornography...

"Nakedness is ubiquitous," writes (Ballarat Gallery curator Elizabeth) Cross - in fashion, advertising, beach culture and the cinema, let alone the vast and insatiable pornography industry. "Engulfed by the ambiguous presence of human flesh at every turn, we do not, cannot, come innocently to the experience of the naked body - if we ever did.

"And yet our naked bodies are our natural condition. Their depiction has the potential to express our fundamental selves, and even something we might count as divinity."
Pictured above: Duo 2008 by Sam Jinks

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