The Pictures We Can’t See

Eager as we are to blog about the Flickr slideshow, “The Diversity of the Nude American Female,” we are limited by the fact that it’s now private on Flickr and we can’t see it.

If anyone knows where the original exhibit was held, or whether the photographs can be found somewhere else on the Web, please let us know. And, of course, we’re also interested in any similar work.

One reason we would really like to see it is because it is described as showing the same women both clothed and unclothed.

Here are a few things we’ve observed:

The naked human body has individual experiences and history written on it; clothes can obscure that information. Clothing isn’t just clothing: it always carries markers including class and money, and its meanings can vary a lot from context to context.

This is more powerful as applied to men than to women. No one ever asked either of us what any of the women in Women En Large did for a living; no audience has ever failed to ask that question about Familiar Men. And the clothed Women of Japan portraits raise different questions.

We all know a lot about clothed and unclothed bodies. It’s too bad we can’t see these pictures: they might help us all learn more about the contrast between clothed and unclothed photographs.