This isn’t a good image but it gives me all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings.
It’s from the 2015 World Naked Bike Ride in Portland–and event I promise myself that I’m going to do each and every year and then chicken out at the last minute each and every year.
It’s a complicated thing. I’m super fascinated by intersections of ‘private’ experiences in public spaces. But I get intensely put off by the whole nudist/naturalism scene. Not that I have anything against nudism/naturism, I’m just more interested in the transgression of the boundary that says being nakedly embodied is not something appropriate for mass consumption. (Nudism/naturalism seems to drift toward the extreme of trying to normalize and de-transgressionate public nudity.)
Also, if there was a closer match between how I see myself–a dyke-ier version of the woman here with the fabulous ink–I’d probably be more into these sorts of things.
Mostly what gets me about this is the way that these two are obviously close friends. They are sharing water from the same nalgene and are sharing space in one of those casual, unconsidered ways that friends do. I’m jealous of that, honestly.
I’d like to have friends that feel comfortable being naked around me and whom I feel comfortable being naked around. Bodies are great and I don’t think we should have to hide them and I don’t think being naked around other people always has to be sexual, I just think that it’s more honest in some ways. (If that makes sense.)
I do also realize that this is a very male gaze-y sort of thing. I mean the way it’s focused on the woman with the ink as opposed to anyone else and the way it’s framed so that you can see the knee jerk cishet assumed erogenous zones is kind of grating. But I do have to admit the twine tied around her hips gets me all kinds of hot and bothered, if I’m honest.
Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)
From a technical standpoint, these images are rull bad–over exposed (most likely due to a low-end digital device with limited dynamic range), the framing seems pretty much random/offers limited context regarding setting (most likely due to limitations presented by the layout of the room) and there’s no evidence of any kind of blocking/staging.
Now, that third bit ends up working–to a certain extent–in favor of the images. The more or less cluttered composition and technical limitations draw attention to gesture and expression. For example: I absolutely adore the way the young woman on the right is watching her friend attentively while her friend seems pretty much focused on her own personal interior experience. (It’s charming the way the young woman on the right is pretty much always trying to touch her friend’s skin–even if it is only a small part of her leg. Also, note how both their legs drift open as the sequence progresses.)
There’s something else I noticed that I think warrants comments. It’s difficult to see but I thought for the longest time that the images we posted out of order. I mean: in the first frame it looks like the young woman on the right has already discarded her underwear, whereas it’s definitely still on in the second image. I spent about five minutes looking back and forth to realize that she’s pushing the vibrator down the front of her undies in the first image. I really like the way that the young woman on the left is less apprehensive about being more undressed but seems more shy about masturbating in front of someone else, whereas the young woman on the right seems perfectly comfortable with masturbating but less so with being nude.
I feel as if this is one of those images that while decidedly not art in it’s present instantiation has a great deal of potential to be–with better craft and execution–Art. The subject is resonate, the interpersonal dynamics incisively rendered and whether intentional or not the staging of the sexual action away from the camera at worst sublimates the typical issues of the art historical male gaze; or, as I would argue: frustrates them.
And I will offer one piece of unqualified praise: even with the intense overexposure the attention to color is astute–the pillows contrasted with the sheets. The matching pink of the pink top and the other woman’s pink knickers vs. the orange top and purple knickers.