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Unmanned: What I learned from a pop-up exhibition of male nudes

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 9:06 AM | Anonymous

The following is a Guest Blog written by an organizer of Calgary Nude Recreation.

You may have caught an article last month on the one-night-only pop-up art exhibit featuring 15 nude portraits of men from Calgary’s arts and music scene. From the art director behind the series, titled "Unmanned":

“Women are far more often the subjects when we talk about the nude throughout history—in sculpture, painting, photography,” said Rebecca White. “We wanted to use the male body, be it cis male or trans male, as our subjects for this series, and to put their bodies into positions or settings that begged the question: ‘What makes a nude sexual?’ while also highlighting the varied beauty of the male form.”

Intrigued, I attended the basement exhibition with several friends and was pleasantly surprised to see the venue jam packed. The photographs lined the perimeter of the space, each one authentic, vulnerable, and thought-provoking. Many of the “models” were there, cheerfully mingling and showing off their nude portraits to friends and family.

Two observations struck me about the exhibit. The first was the live, grassroots, real level of support which “unusual” things can garner in Calgary. Far too often I hear Calgarians say “Oh, I think that’s a great idea, but it’ll never work in CAL-GARY!” It’s awesome to see unusual things being successfully executed in our city.

The second observation is a broader conversation about context and the value judgments we as a society ascribe to largely similar actions. Take a nude selfie? You’re a narcissist and asking for it if that picture ever gets leaked. Have someone else take the photo? Let’s put it on the wall and pay $8 to go see it! There are similar thought patterns around nude recreation that we are always looking to explore and deconstruct.

Overall, the evening was a great testament to the fact it is possible for anyone to create spaces in Calgary where nudity is normal without interference from those who believe bodies are something to be ashamed of. I applaud the art director, photographer, and local men who took part in this project for starting a conversation that can help normalize nudity both for men, and for Calgary.

Have something to say?  Email your pitch to CalgaryNudeRecreation@gmail.com

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