Buck-nakedness has had its run on display at MoMa recently! No it wasn’t a porn convention. It was art! Don’t believe me…sorry it just closed yesterday, May 31st. Of course, it got all the buzz due to the eye popping, live art. There were 38 nudes strategically placed in different positions throughout the exhibit to give you a naked experience. It featured a naked woman draped in skeletal bones metaphorically presenting a contrast in the value of flesh versus the bare boned frame as it’s mirror.
I’ve always loved nude art because it celebrates the human body. But I have to admit, when Marina Abramovics’ exihibit, The Artist is Present went on display at MoMa, I hesitated to go see it. Sure the thought of being voyeuristic for its sexual nature is enticing but the idea of appreciating the human naked body for what it is biologically, emotionally, intellectually or even artistically can be a challenge when it’s live in the flesh.
As people tell of their experiences laced with many accounts of discomfort, you realize from the expressed intent of the artist, the exhibition is accomplishing it goal of making people come face to face with their own naked inhibitions. The Artist is Present by Yugoslavian born artist Marina Abramović is not just your ordinary exhibit. Abramović, known for having brought the concept of live art to museum patrons using people in real time, unrehearsed, and unplanned by creating an atmosphere for people to experience performers as they are experiencing the moment.
The collection of bodies as a whole is clearly an artistic statement about how we humans relate to different states of ourselves. We are hung up about flesh. Perhaps the challenge was giving myself permission to look without shame or sexual innuendo. The idea is to confront your personal issue with the naked body and deal with the negative perceptions you associate with it. As usual, there were perves who came just to gawk pornographically. It was reported in the news that the museum actually had to address issues of patrons poking and groping the performers! FYI (if you are so inclined) MoMa has issued a policy to expel anyone caught touching the art. Ironic, given the makeshift doorway of two nudes designed to make people squeamishly squeeze pass the art to begin with!
I’ve often wondered why we (Americans) are always being challenged on our hang up’s with sexuality or self awareness. Is it because we’ve made it salacious, exploitive, and misogynistic thanks to porn and big booty mags, hip hop videos, and graphic movie sex scenes? Nudity is controversy before it is art here in America. Are we that sexually dysfunctional? Could I do this with all my curves and flaws?
Of course the biggest hurdle for anyone in maintaining their own sense of naked decorum was getting pass the entrance itself. Donned by two nude performers; a man and a woman or two women or two men stood only two to three feet apart as the threshold for patrons to pass through. You are close enough to literally have a brush with the buck nakedness. I couldn’t do it – it was too close for comfort.
Maybe it would’ve been easier with two women because I understand those bodies. But I found the man just a bit intimidating as his penis dangled right in front of me! What if I accidentally touch it! Then there’s the tempting urge to just stare and compare. I had license to whisper, get antsy, look away, criticize, and come to terms with nakedness which is Abramovics intention. People experiencing nudity as art with every emotion that happens naturally and in the moment is an unusual freedom, at least, here in America.