‘Hey Ella, here’s something you and your staff should do!’ an avatar called Dave IM’ed me.
A hyperlink led to the website of Erica Simone and specifically a gallery of a project she has done called ‘Nue York’, a nice play on words for someone who says she’s a Parisienne living in New York -the French word ‘nue’ means ‘naked’ or ‘bare’.
With a tripod and a couple ounces of adrenaline, I took to the busy streets to get a taste of New York in the nude.
The point is not to be nude for shock value. I am simply an artist looking to humorously poke at some interesting thoughts about society and question who we are and embody as human beings inhabiting this home we call Earth. It’s now up to you to answer or raise these questions, as you like, Erica writes on her website.
Thoughts about society and questioning who we are? Yes. That pretty much grasps the nettle of where we are, as naked human beings, in 2015 and of how taught ‘values’ impose themselves on us as people, and of how centuries old attitudes to the naked form in life can thrill, delight, shock, disgust or force legislators into action to limit or even outlaw the very core of our existence – a naked body.
We all know Pastor Niemoller’s poem, don’t we?
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Written about Germany’s intellectuals failure to halt Nazism’s rise, and erasing of groups they opposed, it remains a powerful statement. But I am always aware that there are right-wing horrors out there in the world who would see us, naturists, as ‘degenerate’. They are wrong. We remain God’s, Allah’s, Buddha’s, Krishna’s, Evolution’s greatest invention and we are all beautiful. All beautiful naked.
Which is why these pages will often see us, individually or collectively, railing against the oppression of other groups. Women being subjected to FGM (female genital mutilation). Gay people being bullied, harassed or victimised. Inequality over the exposure of nipples. Facebook’s ridiculous policy of permitting beheading videos while barring breastfeeding mothers. Even naturists being seen as weird, strange or disgusting. It’s up to us as a lifestyle group to protect our own rights, and those of others because if we don’t, and right-wing loons, from ISIL to Rush Limbaugh to Fox News get their way, gays will be harried out of existence, along with peace loving Muslims living in America (or Britain), Jews victimised (anti semitic attacks are on the rise in the UK) and the rest of it. We, naturists, stand for our fellow men and women and their right to exist. In same sex marriages, in American mosques, in a state called Israel.
The naturist philosophy is simple: exist with nature and with fellow man. It’s a holistic lifestyle at its very best, not simply the act of removing one’s clothes. For our time on this earth ‘leave only footprints, take only memories/photographs’ is a good way of describing how we, naturists, should behave.
So those are the questions that Erica’s artist statement, in respect of her Nue York project, begin to raise in me. You, I imagine, will have your own set of questions and answers.
As usual in posts like this, I avoid using the artist’s work as the images will be subject to copyright, so if you wish to see some of Erica’s work, I suggest you follow the link to her website. And as usual in situations like these, we try to capture a sense of ‘SL replicating RL’. I wish Harry was back: such SL photos were his forte. That’s not to disrespect Diane’s work, as she’s done a good job on creating a ‘Nue York’ scene of her own in the following photo.