I gave the opening talk at the opening of the Bodyscapes exhibition at the PH21 Gallery in Budapest. The opening was on line (Google Meets). And I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the exhibition.
Bodyscapes is a varied and rich group of photographs curated by Zsolt Batori with Borbála Jász. The meanings of many of these images is nuanced and complex, and resides in the eye of the beholder as much as the artist’s intent. Looking at the Bodyscape photos had me reconsidering the nude in its complexity.
One way to characterize Bodyscapes is bodies in landscapes and bodies as landscapes. That’s really too simple, but it does create a useful framework.
Humanopolis #4, by Jose Ignacio Laburu, the juror’s choice, is an excellent example of bodies in landscapes. It’s an otherwise abstract composition transformed by a nude figure that lies on an edge, calling to the eye and changing the emphasis of the image.
There are numerous images in the show of bodies as landscapes. Possibly the most radical are images by Elizabeth Brown, including Traces #3, where images of skin and scars are textural, creating a human reality parallel to the abstract composition.
Street photos like A Conversation, by Jim McKinness, can also be bodyscapes. Movement and clothed people become bodies in urban landscapes.
Anelyn Radulescu’s 2 honorable mention photos are: first, You Can Not See Them, where a nude is partly covered and surrounded by what appear to be family photos; in the second, I Was Here, the nude has departed, and only the scattered pictures remain. It’s an excellent example of work whose meaning will be reflected through the individual viewer. Personally, I see a woman leaving her family behind.
Nude art can, among other things, be political, aesthetic, constructed, erotic, reflective of classic modes, or challenging or confirming of “conventional beauty” and attitudes. Commentary on the body as landscapes and in landscapes can lead to a multitude of meanings. Other than the erotic, there is no overarching meaning to the nude — it’s what makes the exhibition so fascinating.
Here’s the link to the web exhibit.
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