opinion

COLUMN: Nudity in art is not porn



Last weekend I sat naked on a table and created a scene about being violated in a very visceral way.

For me, this scene was the culmination of my attempts at nude scenes throughout a long time. The scene is not intensely graphic, but it’s disturbing and it’s disruptive.

The disruption is a big part of queer art, and sometimes that manifests as nudity, partial or otherwise.

I don’t make porn. Neither does Lena Dunham or any straight white male who has numerous nude scenes that are far less interesting.

The naked body is not shameful or a “shock tactic.”

Dunham’s nudity on “Girls” has been criticized from numerous angles, ranging from questions about why she is naked so much to why she is putting her body on screen.

Dunham has claimed her nude scenes are not brave but are for the work.

She claimed the scenes advance the plot and show an integral part of their lives — and she’s right.

As Dunham said in her book “Not That Kind of Girl,” for her, “it isn’t brave to do something that doesn’t scare you,” and nudity is part of telling compelling stories.

“It’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive,” Dunham said in response to a reporter who didn’t get the purpose of nudity in her show at a Television Critics Association panel in 2014.

The reporter wrote an in-depth article on the Wrap defending his position as a question of artistic intent and not of misogyny.

But there’s a point. Why is Dunham’s answer not enough?

Sex is an integral part of many folks’ lives. Recently, Dunham portrayed her own character, Hannah, having sex with a woman for the first time due to a stressful incident with her boyfriend.

This scene marks some of the most complicated emotional footwork the show has done with sex.

It carved out how and why people have sex in both dark- and light-hearted ways.

I insert my body into narratives of desire and destruction despite my body’s somewhat odd shape, cluttered acne and queerness.

My aforementioned piece was part of a larger work about the way identity breaks us down into multiple selves.

It’s about how we mask ourselves to different people.

Hiding from my queerness and the physicality of that queerness were dark but central parts of my identity for a long time.

Reclaiming my body was a big part of my art practice in the past year.

I posted a shirtless selfie and filmed shirtless scenes for films I have made, such as “Lonely Orbits” and “Witch in the Orchard.”

I flinched in the editing suite, but I felt my body deserved to be seen on film in a romantic context.

I don’t know if I can accurately explain the feelings surrounding being naked in front of a group of eight crew members.

They’re dedicated, unflinching, and you can’t help but wonder what they think. But this is their job.

The see through the project’s vision so you as the creator follow through.

Many videos claim to have the secrets to filming a sex scene.

But they don’t address the vulnerable, dark scenes of nudity or the triumphant ones in which I can choose the angles.

For Dunham nudity is an artistic compulsion and a desire to be seen in vulnerable but powerful positions.

It is humbling, sweet and invigorating to be in control of how others see your body.

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