Get Naked. Be Art.

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Http://

skyferreira_albumluna luna: “The photograph is naked and raw and pained. Underlying it is some frustration that likely comes from heartbreak, being a young girl judged to death and becoming a music industry tool before you’ve hit 18. It’s full of depth and tumult accrued in the years it took her to make her music. As she said in the same interview with Stereogum,

“I don’t really feel like my left nipple is all that important.”

And she’s right. The associations in this image are more about anger and angst and sadness. The nudity just becomes a symbol of vulnerability and an act of expression instead of a marketing ploy. And sure, at the end of the day, it is partial marketing — she’s trying to sell albums, after all — but there’s no reason she can’t do that with honesty.

An important question here, however, is whether or not you could chalk up the same “this is art, this is expression” argument if this was Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry. […]

So where’s the divide? Do you need a history of difficulty and clamor for your nudity to seem “real”? When is it empowering and disarming? When is it just a gimmick? It’s a woman’s body, after all. She should be able to qualify it as art when she feels like it.”

For luna luna‘s full article please follow:

Art or NOT Art?

Does it come with a narrative? Does it create meaning? Is meaning created through it?

Perhaps I shouldn’t have answered your question with three of my own, but to me: the artist creates meaning and from this follows the most straightforward definition of art.

Art just is. Whatever we – artists – give meaning to, is art.

It may be somewhat broad, but I do not think that art can ever exhaust reality, nor that reality can ever exhaust art.

So… when it comes to Sky Ferreira’s C.D. cover, and her choice of exposed nipple, then I suppose the question is one of intent as well as meaning.

Commercial intent would not automatically de-categorise it as art. Think Andy Warhol. When it comes to art produced for the masses, or even when it comes to mass-produced art, as long as the artist defines it as such, then – whether you like it or not, buy it or not – it is art.

Sky’s career will not be hurt, I imagine, by this un-cover-ing of herself. Nudity sells. It has done for as long as there were people willing to be nude, and those with the skill to depict it.  If all her past efforts have crashed and burned, and she decided that her label-imposed commercial image does not work for her, then taking control of what she wants to put out there and how she wants it packaged – or unpackaged – certainly seems like a step in the right direction.

There is something haunting in her looks. The grit, the emotion, the hurt all come through. Whenever I see nudity in art I always question first whether its appearance is gratuitous, or whether it adds something to the performance. I refer here primarily to my perception of nudity in plays, but it works in the context of art in general. In some cases the conclusion is the inevitable first: it is there to get bums in seats that otherwise would’ve not paid to see it. Most of the time, however, there is a point to it.

Nudity brings with it both power and vulnerability. Nothing offers the potential to explore both more.

When the performer gets it right, the audience can feel it. And they will, in their admiration, reflect the honesty of the artist.

There is no doubt however that women are asked to take their clothes off more than men. In all art – whether music, photography, theatre, cinema, painting, and in literature too, it is women that are uncovered most often.

Men still dominate all the arenas of artistic and commercial expression. Is it too simplistic to point at this as the key reason for women’s nudity in art and commerce? Whether we accept this or not, the question of whether this is empowering or disarming remains unanswered.


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18 thoughts on “Get Naked. Be Art.

  1. One of the five marks of the decaying Roman culture, according to Gibbon, was
    “Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original”. This isn’t freakish. Sensationalistic? Perhaps. Creative and original? Had it been a painting, I might say yes. Photo? It doesn’t seem to have the same effect on me—it doesn’t have the same creative value in my eyes.

    It is art, I suppose, but is it good art? Doesn’t do anything for me. Just a little sensational.

    • Very interesting points, navigator. I suppose, yes – it is a little sensational. Art is subjective if not anything else, so it will appeal to some more than others. Enjoyed reading your commentary, particularly the parallel you make with the decaying Roman culture. Thank you.

      • The decay is the major part of the thesis of my two books. I believe we are in the midst of an essentially similar decay, and that I’ve identified the nature of this decay. I wouldn’t be writing two books if I weren’t guardedly confident of the thesis.

  2. The first thing I noticed about the picture, were the girl’s eyes not her nudity. So I think that the sensationalism is often in the audience mind, more than in art itself.
    Nudity has been present in art since the prehistoric era (but then probably it was because clothes weren’t so common), Botticelli’s Venus is naked but when you are in front of that painting it’s not her nudity that make you catch your breath in amazement.
    I don’t want to compare a cd cover picture with art masterpieces, what I am trying to say is that nudity in itself is not outrageous nor disgraceful so far as it’s a symbol or a way to express a feeling.

    • Thank you for saying that, Irene. Her eyes were what I noticed first too, then her expression, and even as I looked at the whole picture the clenched fist – which you can almost guess at rather than see – was also of more interest. I would be curious to know about the thought process behind the picture. The artist did make a choice, so I wondered why that choice and not another.
      Great comment. Thank you 🙂

  3. I imagine that her music makes her feel vulnerable and exposed, if it’s truthful and immediate, and the picture is a symbol of how much of herself and her fears she pours into it. An interesting question: how does the picture make you feel, what emotions does it call out of you? Does it make you want to listen to what she has to say? Does it make you care about the artist? Does it make you protective? Or does it make you want to exploit the image or her because she has shown weakness? Whatever your feelings are, I would argue that those say more about you, and should not be blamed on the picture since many reasonable reactions to it are possible. It may almost be more you that ends up exposed rather than her. All she is showing is a little flesh and a soulful look. You are exposing part of who you are with your reaction to it.

    • Wonderful comment, Brenda, thank you. You make several pertinent points, but I think I like your final one best: “You are exposing part of who you are with your reaction to it.” Beautifully put.

  4. Pingback: November’s Darlings | vic briggs

  5. Well, I visited this cause it was Related Content on your new blog post. And I feel like getting nekkid! Woohoo!

  6. Pingback: Let’s Talk Opinion | Lunchtime Edition | vic briggs

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