The Nakedme Show challenges the status quo of social norms relating to censorship and moral standards. The artists talk about some of the themes behind their project:
Taking risks, confronting fear and pushing moral boundaries are at the heart of this project. Humour and absurdity form the framework on which we play with these ideas.
Performing naked in public involves significant risk and fear. While nudity often features in galleries and theatres, audiences in these passive spaces are primed to expect and view it through an unambiguous high art filter. In such ‘cold’ mediums nudity shrouds itself in a cloak of artistic objectivity, safely detached from the uncertainty of two-way dialogue. By contrast, in a ‘hot’ medium such as online video or street performance, nudity can be conflated with pornography or viewed as sexually charged exhibitionism. The potential for and immediacy of feedback leaves our egos vulnerable to criticism about our physical form and intent. People recoil at the thought of being publically seen naked for fear of damage to their social or professional reputation, and in interactive spaces the fear of social ostracism plays out vicariously even for fully clothed ‘non-participants’. This is the critical point at which the confrontational nature of our work arises.
On a personal level, by pushing through these fears we are actively constructing a platform from which we are able to overcome all sorts of other social and self-imposed limitations on how we should think and act. In some ways our project is like an artistic equivalent to overcoming a fear of heights through skydiving! Cultivating a positive attitude towards risk-taking is hugely important to us, because it is only through risk that we can be truly creative. The fear of failure and potential embarrassment is the biggest limitation on creativity. In any sphere of life, breaking free from the safety of the mould necessitates acceptance of the risk that, despite your best efforts, you may still be seen to ‘fail’.
The only way to accept this risk is to be comfortable with vulnerability, and in a naked state you are really quite vulnerable! We are saying that, by constantly pushing yourself to do things that seem uncomfortable, you can open up a whole new world of possibility. You free yourself from the tyranny of social judgment and self-doubt.
Young children have no fear about being seen naked or looking silly, so it is no coincidence that our work has a certain childlike absurdity and playfulness to it. We have found that nudity is really quite a divisive issue, and while most people love what we are doing, occasionally someone will respond with impassioned vitriol! By making our performances funny and a bit comedically surreal we are able to deflate some of the animosity that the mere sight of naked skin can sometimes provoke.
The use of nudity as a legitimate artistic mechanism throws up a whole range of political, legal and moral questions. Working in these grey areas allows us to cast some light on the contradictions and ambiguities that surround public nudity and indeed the validity of ‘artistic purpose’ in general.
Once being naked in public doesn’t seem scary to us anymore we will probably move on to something else! But for now it is still pretty daunting for us to dance naked in public, so The Nakedme Show is going to keep rolling on throughout the world.