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Naked Art.

The other day I found myself in the midst of an ‘experience’ – an art experience to be precise. The concept was taken from Leonardo De Vinci‘sda-vinci-man2 obsession with technology  and his fear that humanity might abuse it. It was titled ‘In the beginning was the End’ and was set in the underground passages of the beautiful Somerset House. We were led through maze like rooms by artists, each enacting a scene that portrayed our world as murky and disjointed. In each room the actors spoke in a different language to the other and the message that people had stopped understanding the other was surreal at times.

The first room shocked me because of how much I dislike the dark. A woman started speaking in Russian and as her voice rose the room was engulfed in darkness with just the sound of a siren. A pitch black room, a room full of strangers, for a moment I contemplated joining the screaming woman. However, it was the last room that was most unexpected. We were led into the ‘director’s’ room ( a machine had been designed that aimed to relieve stress and we were in the ‘headquarters’) and in wandered a naked employee; as the director ran after the employer to chastise him all her other employers began undressing too in protest. All stark naked – just like that, in a room full of strangers.

My very conservative upbringing formed a voice in my head and begun to wonder if I was ok with this and I was. I was more taken with the confidence of these people but also that the human body away from the tabloid press is very normal.  The bombardment of what we think we should look like is not a reality and here the reality was literally in my face. It was comfortable to see normal.

As the now naked artists moved towards the large spectacular spiral staircase to lament their fallen world they were also joined by the director. I found myself cynically watching the scene unfold. They were all illustrating breakdown and suffering. I felt like that the point had missed – the paradox is often, that when one does have a mental breakdown or feel a complete loss of control they are usually fully clothed, in the middle of a ‘functioning’ society and yet feel exposed and isolated. ‘To remove all your clothes’ I thought ‘Is an easy and lazy portrayal of a complex emotional state. I’d rather see them in their suits, evening wear or pyjamas.’ And as I cynically questioned the art they had presented me with, I also realised that they had done what Art should do. It had taken me into a space of reflection, away from my normal; debating Art and Life.

27 thoughts on “Naked Art.

  1. Hmmm…..in that event, you could have worn one of those heavy “flasher” overcoats for those moments when being naked or clothed was an option. Just a thought Leila….

  2. Thank you for your interest in my work.

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  3. I felt like that the point had missed – the paradox is often, that when one does have a mental breakdown or feel a complete loss of control they are usually fully clothed, in the middle of a ‘functioning’ society and yet feel exposed and isolated… SOOO DEEP..

  4. I enjoyed your critique on “Naked Art”. I haven’t seen that exhibition, but I enjoyed how you debated each side. I am a portrait painter and through my life have worked with many nude models. I enjoy portraits of normal people. The flawless beauties can be very boring. It is the wrinkles, scars and imperfections that show character. We are all perfect in our imperfections.

    Thanks for liking my poem “I’ve Always Wondered.” I will be following your blog.

    Cheers,
    Dennis

    • I agree with you completely much about the imperfections showing character and beauty. I wish that was something that was embraced more by society and media. Thank you for your thoughts – I’m really looking forward to following your work.

  5. “the paradox is often, that when one does have a mental breakdown or feel a complete loss of control they are usually fully clothed, in the middle of a ‘functioning’ society and yet feel exposed and isolated.” — very well put.

  6. Love your vignette! Your internal experience is a great example of humanity’s struggle between the ego nature and the truth of our identity as Love. As ego we strive to insulate ourselves from healing through judgment–perhaps by judging the art we are experiencing. But Love opens to the message, even when it is challenging. Beautiful!

  7. My Latin is very rusty—I’ve never been able to find a translation I like for “Ars gratia artis” — which Google tells me is ‘art for the sake of art’ (I thought something like ‘art for the pleasure of art’).

    The Tate Gallery hung a dead horse from the ceiling as a ‘work of art’. They never replied whenI sent them an e-mail informing that a terrible storm had made it a bad lambing season here, the fields were filled with little works of art and I could send them some—?

    I loosely define art myself as “something that carries an emotion from one human mind to another without explanation”. And then realised that a slap in the face fits my description too (but it’s been done already).

    Whatever, it seems you’ve been exposed to art …

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