The recently inaugurated place presents the work of thirty women gathered around the nude. From different backgrounds and cultures, artists use nudity to convey their societal visions in committed photographs.
If the nude arouses so many contradictory emotions, it is because it is both what maintains the hypersexualization of women while being a tool of protest for women themselves. In the history of visual arts, the female body, exploited for the benefit of male desire, has been content with a uniform beauty, although criticized, still anchored in our societies. This standard body born from fantasy already had nothing to do with the aspirations of women in the last century. In the 70s, a feminist avant-garde took shape and many photographers seized the body for political purposes. From this precise moment, nudity was no longer an end in itself but a means of emancipation and reappropriation of identity.
Nude offers an overview of the multiple facets of this essential and controversial photographic genre through nearly 200 photographs, mirroring the issues of our time.
Among the works presented, My Tinder Boy by Chinese photographer Yushi Li questions the way we look at others according to our gender by reversing not only the male/female paradigms but also the codes. After selecting men she liked via the dating app Tinder, she joined them at their homes and photographed them naked in their kitchen. She then approached her subjects as pure objects of desire whose personal and intimate space she has monopolized.
Japanese photographer Momo Okabe talks about another topical theme: gender transition, with particularly powerful images. With Dildo, the artist who confessed to being asexual evokes a world beyond the binary which she captures in solid and assertive colors, as if to counteract the confusion which reigns around the questions of gender change.
In certain works, the authors also become actresses. This is the case of Diary by Lina Scheynius: photographs of her life where the nude takes on the air of a poem. Mouths that kiss, bodies that embrace, a thin piece of plastic delicately held at the tip of the finger, a male penis surrounded by foliage, a self-portrait jumping out of bed… Fascinated by the power of the body, the Swedish photographer captures its indescribable beauty with sensitive and suggestive images, intimately dedicated to their subject.
If in Western societies the nude is widely used and democratized, there remain many countries where the body remains a sensitive area. China, for example, whose photographer Luo Yang, born under the one-child law, crystallizes a youth trying to assert itself in this country plagued by headwinds, between tradition and capitalism. Through the nudity of these young women, Girls addresses an age of life between fragility and femininity while embodying a certain transgression of thought.
Some artists are particularly interested in the male nude: the American artist Dana Scruggs captures beautiful images of black men to denounce the injustices and violence inflicted on them in the United States. Swedish photographer Monika Macdonald takes on male fragility to deliver soft and intimate portraits.
Others use nudity to denounce the physical injunctions made to women, this is the case of the Danish photographer Marie Hald who addresses the subject of overweight people through the portraits of Marte, an activist determined to change the heavy gaze and oppressive behavior of society against them. Ivorian artist Joana Choumali superimposes and mixes real female bodies with the smooth and plastic bodies of dolls, rejecting the heteronormative male gaze.
Finally, photography still remains an incredible vector of diversity. As at the heart of the cinematographic shots of the Franco-Uruguayan photographer Bettina Pittaluga who celebrates the skin, its shape, its hue, its grain and its reflection in portraits revealing all the power of her feminine and masculine subjects. Or like the Dutch photographer Lotte van Raalte who immortalizes the bodies of 46 women aged 13 to 94 years old, resulting in a cartography of the female body that is nuanced, real and full of life.
Noémie de Bellaigue
Nude at Fotografiska Berlin until January 21, 2024.
Oranienburger Str. 54,