The naked truth

UN Goal Nr 5 is the actual experienced equality of men and women in shaping their lives. This is an ambitious goal, as the 2020 Annual Report states, "Women are more likely to be in positions of power, but the world is still far away from achieving gender parity."

We had already taken up this topic and presented Nan Goldin and Roswitha Hecke, two remarkable female photographers. Today we are talking about the pleasant fact that this UN goal has always been achieved in one aspect. From the beginning, women and men have one thing in common: we all come into the world naked when we are babies. Presumably, this will not change anytime soon.

So nudity is normal. This is important because, depending on climate zone, gender and worldview, people are then clothed, fixed in a tight wrap, left naked or wrapped from head to toe.

Nudity has also always been the focus of art interest. In all regions of the world, in all time zones, people have been depicted naked. As statues, as drawings, and as paintings. Even the Catholic Church accepted nudity: but only until influential Muslim guests arrived and the genitals of statues in Rome disappeared behind leaves.

Photography enthusiastically took up the theme of the unclothed human body. Nudity is presented again and again. Erotic, in advertising, humorous, satirical and even border-crossing.

These photos evoke the most diverse reactions. And these reactions are mostly predictable, because they depend on the view of individual people and on the prevailing moral concepts of a country. For example, an American film may leave us irritated in Germany when uninhibited acts of violence are shown, but a woman wears a bra in a "bed" scene.

In terms of gender justice, it is worth looking at two works from somewhat surprising perspectives.

Karin Székessy: Bell`ami © Karin Székessy

Pierre et Gilles: Vive la France, 2006 © Pierre & Gilles

Bell`ami ami from the very special point of view of an imaginative photographer in times of black and white photography and Vive la France from the point of view of a very special photographer duo. Male nudity seems to be a bit problematic after all. The photo shown here was supposed to serve as a poster for the exhibition Naked Men in Vienna in 2012. But after massive protests, the Leopold Museum voluntarily pasted over the "corpora delicti" with censor bars and replaced the posters with a different motif near schools.

Enjoy here an uncensored photo of three by no means naked men with the title Vive la France and in the colors of the Tricolor.

Székessy began as a reportage photographer at Kristall. She then taught fashion photography at the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg. From the beginning, doll photos, portraits, landscapes and still lifes were her motifs. When Székessys nude photographs were added, she achieved worldwide fame. Her works have been shown internationally in numerous exhibitions. What few know: Karin Székessy photographed about 300 cover photos for crime novels published by publishing house Ullstein.

The two performers are a gay French artistic couple. Pierre and Gilles make almost exclusively elaborate staged photographs in their studio. With photographs such as of Catholic saints, they not only caused a sensation, but they became known throughout the world and their works were exhibited internationally.