Your Personal View of (Social) Nudism draws on images from magazines promoting a social nudist lifestyle. Photographs in the magazines depict unclothed men, women and children engaged in the kind of leisure activities one associates with summer camps – sports, cookouts, sunbathing and friendly gatherings. Photography is a frequent topic and many magazines feature articles on the etiquette of taking photographs in nudist parks, court cases on censorship and the mail and the qualities of a good nudist picture.
The series started with a magazine discovered in a pile of discarded papers at my grandparent’s home in Twentynine Palms. The cover was missing, revealing an image of a young girl pointing a Rollei camera towards the lens of another photographer. Uncomfortable with the image, I put it aside until coming across it again when moving into my current studio in June 2015. I later learned that in addition to being a camera bug and ham radio operator, my grandfather enjoyed visiting nudist parks. This particular magazine featured several articles on photography and nudism, combining two of his obsessions.
Prompted by the image of the young girl,
I started collecting images of nudists photographing each other. Early works in the series feature unclothed men and women holding cameras pointed towards the lens of another camera which is in turn photographing them. These works have hand drawn grids based on the aspect ratio of the camera depicted. The series title is derived from a Your Personal View of Nudism, a magazine from 1963 celebrating the Polaroid published by Ken Price, a popular photographer in the nudist camps.
While on a residency at the MacDowell colony, I spent time with the magazines I’d collected and became interested in recurring characters, themes and conventions. Having written a pilot script for another project last year, I realized that it might be interesting to look at the nudist movement through the lens of episodic TV – building visual “episodes” for the wall and using color and titling to signal recurring elements. Experimenting with watercolors for Vinland: Quilt led to using them in Your Personal View.
Eventually the episodes will span the 30’s through the 90’s – there will probably be a few per decade. As of summer 2016, Episodes 1957 and 1961 are mostly completed and Episode 1944 exists in early draft form.
Note: Prior to 1958, most social nudist magazines blurred male and female genitals in published photographs to comply with postal regulations which considered frank depictions of bodies obscene. In 1958, the Supreme Court ruled that the variety and content of nudist magazines failed to meet the tests for obscenity, freeing the magazines to be distributed via the mail uncensored. Discomfort with frank depictions of the human body still exists, as evidenced by the recent removal of works from this series from social media.
All images below: 2015-2016, Printed on Arches or Epson cotton paper unless stated otherwise