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This post was edited by blueeyes.yu at 2012-9-14 10:24|
Nudity. Now, there’s a word to set pulses racing and, in some cases, cause tempers to fray.
Nudity in art is nothing new. But, whenever it raises its head, it usually causes something of a stir.
Some say nudity in art challenges our attitudes to the human form, and also gives us a chance to discuss body-related matters maturely and out in the open.
Some have also worked out that, for want of a less crude way to put it, the naked human form is sexy.
And, to quote an old advertising adage, sex sells.
The Beijing News reported on January 5 that a 19-year-old Chinese college student called Su Zizi (not her real name) paid her college tuition fees by posing naked in model portraits.
Her actions have certainly sparked a heated debate. Su, however, sees nudity in art as a legitimate form of expression.
In the West, artists and even television programs continue to push the boundaries of “acceptability”.
On the popular Channel 4 program in the UK, How to Look Good Naked, presenter Gok Wan takes women and men who are insecure about their bodies and rebuilds their confidence and self-esteem.
A large picture of the woman or man after their makeover is shown in a public place and passers-by are asked to give their opinions.
Positive responses from members of the public help to build the self-confidence of the insecure subjects, according to program makers.
However, some critics have described the program as “vulgarity disguised as self-help”.
There have also been instances where members of the public have reacted inappropriately to displays of naked art.
At a performance of Art Is Present at New York’s Museum of Modern Art last April, both male and female performers reported having been “touched” and even “groped”, while performing in the nude.
Not everyone who poses naked does so for public consumption, however.
There is a growing trend for people to pose naked for photographs in China.
Most people who do so are young and are looking to “capture their figures”. Many of them are new brides.
“One should be proud of a beautiful body,” Xiao Yu, 23, told China Daily. Xiao recently posed for nude portraits at a Beijing studio.
She said: “I wanted to preserve the memory of my youth, when my body is at its physical peak.”
Some psychologists support nude photographs as a way to appreciate youth, suggesting that it helps Chinese society break a long-standing taboo.
Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist at Renmin University of China, said in an interview with China Daily that the popularity of nude photos showed that China has “diversified from its conservative past”.
There is little doubt that society is changing fast in China–and not for the better, some say.
“Juvenile crime has continued to worsen, especially sexual crimes. Public tolerance and the availability of photos of scantily-clothed men and women contribute to this,” Xia Xueluan, a professor of sociology at Peking University said.
“In primitive times, people knew to cover their bodies with leaves,” he continued. “How can youngsters cast aside etiquette and shame?”