Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Culture, Art and the Nude

Over on the Yachting World web site Elaine Bunting got into trouble (of sorts) from some quarters for stories like this one that involved pictures of scantily clad women.

It highlighted the cultural differences of attitudes to the human form. In the international meeting I'm at I've recently become all too aware of the explosive impact of different attitudes to the simplest of things (long story not to be repeated here).

I was also struck by the attitudes in art to the common theme of the nude (see this for description of life on the front line). Take the sculpture below of a naked woman reaching for something hidden below a layer of decking, which is on display in a park in Geneva.

It is not anywhere in the park, but actually in the children's play area, which is part of a school. Around are swings, slides and a sandpit, marked as to whether they are appropriate for ages 1, 3, 6, and 8 year olds.

I was wondering how a statue and location would be received in the UK: I think it would probably be ok as we are much more European now.

How about other countries? In the US I suspect it would likely cause a scandal "placed where children can see it" etc on the lines of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction.

So what is acceptable in art museums would be unacceptable in public. It seems odd to me that a culture allows TV programs showing torture in a positive light (e.g. Lost) rejects the natural human form.

I guess that makes me European in outlook!

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