“In the US, what little nudity is permitted is usually shown in a sexual context. This contributes to a perception that we’re supposed to evaluate every naked body we see as a potential sex partner or rival. Seeing nudes in a museum is one of the only exceptions to this. I don’t think that most of us react to a naked portrait in a museum by thinking “wow I’d never have sex with that. Why is it on display?” or by writing a letter of complaint to the museum director about Rubens’ glorification of obesity. Therefore I have framed my models as sculptures and works of art in a museum in the hope that the viewer will suspend any judgments about whether they find the models sexually attractive or not, or whether their bodies are socially acceptable. Hopefully this will give the viewer an opportunity to observe the work as they might a classic painting and discover some aesthetic interest or even pleasure in the unique shapes and textures of the models’ bodies.”
Image and text courtesy of Julia SH from her series Studio Practice.
www.juliash.com and Instagram: @juliashoots
Editor’s comment: “Posing her model as if they’re a work of art in a museum has quite the unusual effect. Instead of judging the body, as we’d be wont to do in most other settings, the composition invites to explore the aesthetic qualities of the subject—the curves and dimples, the lines and fissures. Julia’s intention here was to cause the viewer to suspend their judgments about the social acceptability of her model’s body, and instead dwell on the lines and form. Successfully done!”