WINDHOEK – The art of nudity, whether in the form of photography, paintings or statues, dates back to the 1800s, yet in some, if not most, societies, the subject in itself remains taboo and is not openly embraced.
In the West, nudity and the art thereof is not necessarily seen as taboo compared to countries such as Namibia. This, despite the fact that the Ovahimba and San tribes, through their way of living, have arguably been practising the art of nudity, with both locals and international visitors freely taking photos of and with these people.
Nudity, the state or fact of being naked, may be classified as pornography, and the Oxford dictionary defines pornography as printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement. However, a community of nudists in the country might change the public’s view on this seemingly taboo art.
Meanwhile, art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture.
Namibian nudist and feminist, Julia Hango, who is the producer of ‘Body Positive Namibia’, has been part of the nudity community for the past 10 years. “Nudity is about body positivity and desexualising the human body. It is a culture, which is not very popular in Namibia and it is growing rapidly compared to when I ventured into the art of nudity,” she told Entertainment Now! this week.
Recently Hango, who is not only provocative but also sensual in her art, launched a sex education podcast ‘The masturbatorium podcast’ in which she explores the importance of body exploration.
Hango, who is both a practising nudist and photographer, explained that being a nudist is quite challenging in Namibia because of sexual stigma attached to the art. With the ‘rape culture’ growing daily, Hango is of the view that men look at her half-naked and immediately assume she is in the business of selling her body. She said she tries to weed out this experience through her portraits.
To make matters worse, organisations, especially those in the art business, are not open to the art of nudity. She gave an example of how she found herself in a battle with the Franco Namibia Cultural Centre (FNCC) because her nude portraits were moved to a corner where they were not easily accessible to art lovers visiting the centre’s gallery. This was the case for three days and she was not notified of the decision.
Recently, another artist, Jakobina Gideon suffered a similar fate but with the National Art Gallery. The gallery rejected her art work, as part of the recently held ‘We Me’ exhibition, because the picture portrays a naked woman. However, the Junior Collections Curator at the National Art Gallery, Erastus Hangula explained that even though nudity is a “form of art, it is not accepted by the law of cultures in Namibia” and that is why Gideon’s portrait was rejected in the gallery.
“In Europe, the art of nudity is celebrated but in Namibia it is quite controversial due to the law, people’s perceptions and morals. When it comes to the National Art Gallery, we do not showcase portraits of naked people,” Hangula emphasised.
However, Gideon argued that she was not informed of the reasons why her portrait could not be exhibited.
She further explained that art to her means freedom, acceptance of self and beauty and its vulnerability in one of its purest forms.
“Nudity means to free yourself of all constructs and stand firmly in your purity. People are starting to create conversations about nudity freely, which proves that it is somehow tolerated in this society,” Gideon said, adding that nudity has a sexual connotation to it, but it is not mainly about sex.
Another nudist Entertainment Now! spoke to is Ndamononghenda Loth, who ekes out a living from posing naked.
Loth, a student at the International University of Management, says she does nudes to create awareness regarding mother nature and it is also just another way of expressing herself.
The 24-year-old is also an international freelance nude model. She revealed that she makes good money from the art, as she is paid in foreign currency.
A New Era report in 2013, quoted a German photographer residing in Namibia, Christian Goltz who reportedly took pictures of naked girls in Namibia and uploaded them on a website, which caused a lot of controversy in the country.
Defending his actions, Goltz maintained that he was an artist and he had no reason to exploit the girls.
According to that report, the nude girls had signed a model release agreement, which was equivalent to an indemnity agreement, and they were well aware of his intention to post their pictures online. “Art is not always understood, hence, the lewd comments made by some of the viewers. These people are complete idiots, but you will always have people that make such comments because they do not understand that it is art,” New Era quoted Goltz.
Meanwhile, another undercover nudist, who preferred to remain anonymous, revealed that she only does nudes for monetary benefits, as she is unemployed but does not see herself as an artist.
“I do nude portraits for money and my clients are always from overseas. Nudity is a part of art but in my case, my reason for being a nudist is not about proving a point or making people aware of something but on the money that one can make out of it,” she explained.
When asked how much money one can make from taking nude photographs, she says it depends on the artistic nature of the photograph and the time it takes during photoshoots.
“The nudes that I take don’t show my face, so the price is quite low compared to those that show people’s faces. Sometimes I get paid 1 000 Euros (N$15 000) depending on the environment and the angle of the picture,” revealed the nudist.
New Era Reporter
2019-08-02 08:00:05 | 11 months ago