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No models, no makeup, no glamor
April 6, 2011 4:05 PM   Subscribe

NuProject is the ongoing project of Minneapolis-based photographer Matt Blum. He describes it as "a series of nudes of normal people." The rules: no models, no makeup and no glamour. He has been working on it since 2005.
posted by Rudy Gerner (98 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice, thank you.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:08 PM on April 6, 2011


I'm suffering from a bad connection, but I liked the ones I was able to see.
posted by Forktine at 4:14 PM on April 6, 2011


Michigan gallery: Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female.

Yep, a whole bunch of normal people alright.
posted by jokeefe at 4:16 PM on April 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


There is no Michigan gallery.
posted by enn at 4:17 PM on April 6, 2011


Edit: Minneapolis. My mistake.
posted by jokeefe at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2011


No safe for work
posted by Premeditated Symmetry Breaking at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2011


No safe for work

What gave it away?
posted by tommasz at 4:22 PM on April 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


But .... many of them are wearing makeup. And to me "people" does not connote "ladies only." And so far I've only seen naked ladies. I'll give him the "real" part -- lots of chubby ladies, lots of ladies who don't fit that "hairless from the neck down" thing that's popular right now.

And none of these women seem particularly excited about revealing their bodies; a few bemused looks, but mostly that (dare I say) glamour model "I'm indifferent/sexy" inert pout. I guess calling something "normal" is problematic: your normal is not my normal is not someone else's normal. Call it what it really is -- naked ladies of various shapes and sizes; some wearing makeup, others not, none of them looking too happy.
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:23 PM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hey, I admire the female form as much as the next faggot, but not a SINGLE male photo?

Dude needs to start seeing men as people worth looking at, too.
posted by hippybear at 4:24 PM on April 6, 2011 [18 favorites]


And why are so many of them framed with their heads cut off or their hair in their faces? Embarassment? The more I look the less "empowering" they seem.
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:27 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll give him the "real" part -- lots of chubby ladies, lots of ladies who don't fit that "hairless from the neck down" thing that's popular right now.

Would disagree about the "lots of chubby ladies" part-- there are a few, mostly the same women, and they're still very likely under thirty.
posted by jokeefe at 4:29 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


macadamiaranch, I wondered the same thing about the expressions. Could it be that we're so saturated with media that people adopt the same face whenever and wherever a camera is pointed at them? Or is there more influence of the photographer at work here than he claims?
posted by tommasz at 4:29 PM on April 6, 2011


I also find it particularly interesting that on his homepage, the photgrapher himself gets to cover his face with dark glasses, a hat over his forehead, and a beard.
posted by jokeefe at 4:30 PM on April 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Eh, go through the rest of the galleries. There's more chubbies in there. I do agree that if any of them are over 35 I'll eat my hat.
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:30 PM on April 6, 2011


Gone through Minneapolis and Sao Paulo galleries. Some of the women in the Sao Paulo gallery are drop dead beautiful, just breathtaking, in an absolutely fashion magazine kind of way, too. Which sort of negates the "normal people" thing, yet again.
posted by jokeefe at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I do agree that if any of them are over 35 I'll eat my hat.

Did you just miss the ones who are obviously over 35, or what?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:33 PM on April 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I must have, shakes. I must have.
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:34 PM on April 6, 2011


I mean because you only have to get to the fifth image in the Minneapolis gallery.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:35 PM on April 6, 2011


You're absolutely right. There's that one older naked woman. Who also looks depressed. I'll preheat my oven and start seasoning my chapeau.
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


tommasz: "macadamiaranch, I wondered the same thing about the expressions. Could it be that we're so saturated with media that people adopt the same face whenever and wherever a camera is pointed at them?"

I don't see any duckface there!
posted by symbioid at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It says under 'participation' that the project is only open to women over the age of 21.
posted by ofthestrait at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2011


Not bloody many of them over 35. Almost all of them look younger than me.

I agree that while not all the women are particularly thin, they're still all pretty much in the range of "normal" weight in my opinion. I've seen a few naked women in my time; few of the heavier women in these pictures wouldn't even register as heavy if they were dressed.

That said, I like the pictures (I wish people would smile in pictures though, I'm tired of "thoughtful musing" faces). But "normal [women]" nails it more than I think maybe the photographer intended?
posted by padraigin at 4:40 PM on April 6, 2011


I count, so far, one old woman and one black woman. Hurrah for diversity!
posted by jokeefe at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2011


The only guys I know about from Minneapolis are not people I'd like to see naked.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:43 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a str8 male, I was wondering if men are not normal people, too. Lots of beautiful young women. IMO, young women tend to be beautiful by default, so, yeah, normal. A few older women, one woman with some interesting scars. But yeah, aside from the lack of males and older models, I guess they're pretty normal.
posted by 2N2222 at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2011


Also, what the hell is with the faux high Church choral music? Are these women religious icons, or what?
posted by jokeefe at 4:44 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


what i want from a wedding photographer is pretentiousness and perversion.
posted by the aloha at 4:49 PM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female. Young, slim, white female.

Not what I saw at all. Though yes, I was bummed that there were no men.

And none of these women seem particularly excited about revealing their bodies; a few bemused looks, but mostly that (dare I say) glamour model "I'm indifferent/sexy" inert pout.

I think that they're mostly pretty neutral, except the ones that look happy. If you think that indifference belongs to glamour models, well I just don't know what to tell you.

Also, w/r/t the range of women, when you hold an open call for nude models, you sort of get what you get. I think a really nice spectrum is achieved, for how many he's actually had time to shoot.
posted by hermitosis at 4:51 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, it's not like you can really just go up to fat old ladies and ask them to get naked. You've got to with the people interested in getting naked on camera, who are naturally going to be the people happy with what they look like naked.

Also, yeah, no models, no glamor, and definitely no dudes. Not that I'm complaining, but usually these "normal people" things include some guys, I guess.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We certainly come in all shapes and sizes.
posted by quadog at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2011


Okay, I recommend that Matt Blum pay his penance by shooting the official "Men of MetaFilter" calendar.

I get April.
posted by hermitosis at 4:55 PM on April 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Okay, I recommend that Matt Blum pay his penance by shooting the official "Men of MetaFilter" calendar.

I would do that. Don't care what month.
posted by hippybear at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only guys I know about from Minneapolis are not people I'd like to see naked.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn


Give me a few months, man, bike season just started.
posted by COBRA! at 5:03 PM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only guys I know about from Minneapolis are not people I'd like to see naked.

Not in my neighborhood. Rrrrowr.
posted by padraigin at 5:06 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


As for:

- the music, I agree it's more than a bit much. I think the work is intimate and often moody and the music is not needed to set a tone. It's like putting sugar on an ice cream sundae.

- the lack of dudes. Come on, gang, the artist didn't say "check out my project that captures all of humanity" or "check out my project which is exemplary of almost everyone." So, there aren't men now--maybe there will be later on. Maybe not. But why should he include men? Or anyone in particular?

- the body shapes of the models, I don't understand how people are seeing only slim, model-y types. I saw a great variety of shapes, sizes, weights, standard what-you-expect bods, and non-standard somewhat-unexpected bods. I guess we all see different things because we're all putting our own body image stuff onto this project.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 5:06 PM on April 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


But, yes, "Men of Metafilter" calendar would be most welcome.
posted by Rudy Gerner at 5:07 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


But, yes, "Men of Metafilter" calendar would be most welcome.

Great, now all we need is something to donate the proceeds to and someone to actually shoot it! (If Blum's been working on these since 2005, it will probably take him forever to get around to us.)

The only remaining question is whether the taters will be hardcore or softcore.
posted by hermitosis at 5:12 PM on April 6, 2011


But, yes, "Men of Metafilter" calendar would be most welcome.

[see username, below]
posted by not_on_display at 5:22 PM on April 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I also find it particularly interesting that on his homepage, the photgrapher himself gets to cover his face with dark glasses, a hat over his forehead, and a beard.

The beard is part of the face.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:25 PM on April 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'll volunteer to shoot the calendar.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:28 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I want to see the men of Metafilter, I'll just open up chatroulette.
posted by found missing at 5:30 PM on April 6, 2011 [18 favorites]


Come on, gang, the artist didn't say "check out my project that captures all of humanity" or "check out my project which is exemplary of almost everyone."

But he did say it was photos of normal people. And there aren't any men, most of whom are normal people, and it's just kind of weird. I find it hard to believe that there are no men in Minneapolis who would be willing to post nude for a project like this.
posted by rtha at 5:31 PM on April 6, 2011


Retitled to 'Girls I slept with and took photographs of, except for the few older ones'
posted by localhuman at 5:32 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks for giving me nightmares about a naked Craig Finn.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:33 PM on April 6, 2011


The only remaining question is whether the taters will be hardcore or softcore.

Two versions, public and ...private.
posted by The Whelk at 5:34 PM on April 6, 2011


(I mean we did a magazine in a month, we could do a calender. Plus many people leave my photo shoots with little or no lasting psychological or emotional damage)
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on April 6, 2011


How about a people of MetaFilter calendar? Why just men?
posted by ocherdraco at 5:43 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, only because I initially thought of it in reference to the lack in this posted project.

I have no problem opening it up to everyone, but I nominate you to deal with the inevitable thread complaining about which kinds of "people" wound up not being represented :)
posted by hermitosis at 5:48 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked the third set the most - in addition to being all-around awesome, the women of Minneapolis have clean, stylish apartments. That's what happens when you're snowed in for four months out of the year - interior decorating happens.

So yeah it's like the second day of spring here and my brain is obviously broken because I'm thinking about fabric patterns after being shown naked pictures of women. I'll be going outside now.
posted by antonymous at 5:48 PM on April 6, 2011


When he says "no makeup" is he referring to body makeup or something? Because a good amount of those women were completely madeup, and a lot were obviously wearing at least a little makeup. Why say "no makeup" if it's not true at all?

I'm amused when men sometimes clarify, "No, I mean no OBVIOUS, GAUDY makeup, duh" - I keep wondering if they just literally don't see makeup that is obvious to me. Which is pretty funny, because that means it's working pretty well.
posted by Nixy at 5:49 PM on April 6, 2011


I keep wondering if they just literally don't see makeup that is obvious to me

To some extent I think this is it. For a long time I didn't realize how many women wore makeup, I can see it now but only after learning a lot more about it.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:56 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay people, blaneyphoto and I just touched base; he's willing to shoot it, and I'm willing to organize it. Anyone who is interested in being photographed (tastefully nude, no makeup) for the NYC edition, please memail me. All types welcome. We'll figure out an excellent cause to donate the profits to, and maybe each year a different city/region can do one.
posted by hermitosis at 6:01 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I ought to clarify that "anyone" and "all types" includes women, as prompted by ocherdraco.)
posted by hermitosis at 6:02 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. I'd model in LA, but I'm not set up to shoot any sort of studio shit here (no lights, for one).
posted by klangklangston at 6:03 PM on April 6, 2011


the official "Men of MetaFilter" calendar.

Who gets the longest month? nudge nudge, wink wink
posted by Forktine at 6:04 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We'll figure out an excellent cause to donate the profits to

ME for all the fucking therapy I'll need after seeing you bastards naked
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:06 PM on April 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


"Could it be that we're so saturated with media that people adopt the same face whenever and wherever a camera is pointed at them? Or is there more influence of the photographer at work here than he claims?"

Just as a note from someone who has shot a lot of people now (though no nudes) — you tend to get that look after people stop fidgeting. This is especially true of people who aren't used to being shot, as they tend to go really super awkward posey to begin with, and you basically have to wait for them to get tired of holding up a forced grin before you can get a decent shot of them. Models you can just tell to do what you want.

I do think that demographically, this is probably a pretty reasonable slice of people willing to get naked in Minnesotta.
posted by klangklangston at 6:06 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice pics, but as for the "no glamour" part, I'm skeptical. Not all the shots, but in many, the posing, their environment, and a lot of the expressions make a lot of these pics more suitable for syntheticpubes.com (Definitely NSFW).
posted by Lukenlogs at 6:11 PM on April 6, 2011


Some of the women in the Sao Paulo gallery are drop dead beautiful, just breathtaking, in an absolutely fashion magazine kind of way, too. Which sort of negates the "normal people" thing, yet again.

No, that's a pretty ubiquitous characteristic of the urban poor: they eat less and they walk a lot more. Ergo, they are thin.

And ditto the annoyance at the lack of dudes.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:14 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Men of Metafilter -- NSFW Edition"...
posted by theDTs at 6:34 PM on April 6, 2011


No, that's a pretty ubiquitous characteristic of the urban poor: they eat less and they walk a lot more. Ergo, they are thin.

This doesn't seem to be the case, in developed countries at least. Obesity is more prevalent and physical activity less prevalent among the poor. Lots of links to studies on this page, which I keep linking to lately.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 6:42 PM on April 6, 2011


I really like this, and I want to like it more -- I, too, want to see more and different bodies, but I expect the people who have those more and different bodies would never consider doing this.

Many of the Minneapolis women, especially the short-haired redhead, have a look that I recognize from my misspent youth, which says: I am bisexual and I have been disowned by my family for my Emotional Problems. Many girls I used to know had that look in their eyes, and it made them seem uncomfortably naked the whole time I knew them, even though I never literally saw them so.

The only guys I know about from Minneapolis are not people I'd like to see naked.

Mike Nelson? No? Just me then . . . ?
posted by Countess Elena at 6:43 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh. I'd model in LA, but I'm not set up to shoot any sort of studio shit here (no lights, for one).

That never stopped Dov Charney, did it?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:48 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, this is pretty weak sauce. It seems much less about the subjects owning their beautiful natural forms than is does about the photographer showing what a sensitive guy he is (but hey, no dudes, 'cos that's kinda gay amirite?).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:06 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spoiler: That long pause in the music where you think it's finally over? It starts up again.
posted by digsrus at 7:17 PM on April 6, 2011


Mike Nelson? No? Just me then . . . ?

MAYBE Neil Gaiman. maybe
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:19 PM on April 6, 2011


To be fair, he describes them as "normal people", not "a representative sample of normal people". When I walk around on the street, I certainly see many people that look like the people he is taking photos of.

I understand the criticism, and don't entirely disagree with the sentiment, but I interpret "normal people" as meaning people whose careers do not (directly) depend on them looking a certain way (e.g., not actors, not models, etc.) I certainly did find the lack of men jarring at first.

I frankly don't think this project warranted a metafilter post (there must be 10,000 photographers out there doing this exact same damned project, with all the pitfalls and everything), but that's a seperate issue.
posted by The Eponymous Pseudonymous Rex at 8:13 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Agreed, The Eponymous Pseudonymous Rex.

Nowhere did he say "random sampling of normal people." In fact, can we just get past his wording entirely?

His photographs are fantastic. He can take a truly simple shot (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and make something eye-holding out of it.

I choose to judge a photographer on his photographs.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:26 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Photos are nice, but I really liked the music. My first reaction was "oh crap music" and about 30 seconds later I'm thinking, wow. A couple minutes later I'm buying the album.

For those of you complaining about a lack of diversity, have you ever been to Minnesota?
posted by doctor_negative at 8:54 PM on April 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


- the lack of dudes. Come on, gang, the artist didn't say "check out my project that captures all of humanity" or "check out my project which is exemplary of almost everyone." So, there aren't men now--maybe there will be later on. Maybe not. But why should he include men? Or anyone in particular?

No, no. He's operating in this traditional/contemporary (as opposed to traditional/classical, which held different values) male mode of art where the female body is a subject worthy of artistic contemplation but not the male. And at first this seems discriminatory toward guys, because it's usually couched in "male bodies are gross" rhetoric, but this rhetoric is really often just utilized to persuade women that objectifying themselves for male consumption is art. See also this porn site (NSFW, obviously) which calls women who take naked photos of themselves "artists" but pays very little and operates on a pay model and claims that "we put a call out for male submissions in early 2004 but the response was, to make an understatment, disappointing. Men fail in the role of exhibitor when their erotic sensibilities are manipulated by their egos" (whatthefrigever that means). It's creepy and male gazey and opportunistic.

It also leads to situations like this: back when I was 18 and planning to go to art school my mother (an artist) and I signed up for life drawing sessions. It was really fun, drawing, yay. One day the model didn't show and the other artists there--mostly men--immediately started trying to cajole my mother into modeling for them. She was insistent on saying no, because, fuck it. She was there to draw. Well, instead of one of them stripping down and posing, they turn to another woman (older than my mom, less traditionally attractive) and convince her to pose for them. So, woman isn't able to draw that night--and just like the rest of us, she's paid to be there--and has to get naked so the dudes can draw.

Attitudes like this force women to objects, to always consider themselves subjects of the gaze and never wholly the gazer (especially when they're young and traditionally beautiful) whereas it keeps men on the other side of things, gazin' away. And for this project specifically, I think that's a damn shame. Because I look at these women's bodies and my first instinct is to seek out a body like mine, to strip myself down mentally and identify with these women. But looking at these pictures, that's not going to happen for a man.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:07 PM on April 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


Mike Nelson? No? Just me then . . . ?

Not just you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:15 PM on April 6, 2011


"That never stopped Dov Charney, did it?"

I also have a girlfriend and no cocaine.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Attitudes like this force women to objects, to always consider themselves subjects of the gaze and never wholly the gazer (especially when they're young and traditionally beautiful) whereas it keeps men on the other side of things, gazin' away. And for this project specifically, I think that's a damn shame. Because I look at these women's bodies and my first instinct is to seek out a body like mine, to strip myself down mentally and identify with these women. But looking at these pictures, that's not going to happen for a man."

That's a really hard thing for male photographers to get past, and part of what makes this work seem kind of dated to me — the shots seem like they'd be more comfortable ten years ago, when male gaze wasn't as widely discussed and accepted. The idea that a guy is telling all women that they're beautiful is more a Dove ad than a strong positive message.

I have to wonder what this photographer is like to work with — I think noticing that these shots are pretty objectifying is a good catch. I see a lot more out-of-context body parts than I see anything that looks like participation.

And, to be honest, I have to say that objectification's not an immediate disqualifier for me. I still love Ed Weston's nudes, despite the fact that sometimes you'd think he was photographing peppers instead of women. But this guy isn't Ed Weston.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The idea that a guy is telling all women that they're beautiful is more a Dove ad than a strong positive message.

A corporation has appropriated a genuine artistic message to sell products, and then placed itself between yourself and that message so that you will always associate it with the brand.

That's not this guy's fault. Nor should we necessarily let our artistic tastes be dictated by the whims of the advertising industry, which has already used up almost everything and is constantly on the lookout for potential artistic/aesthetic turning points to lay claim to.
posted by hermitosis at 11:24 PM on April 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of us MeFites are better behind the camera instead of in front of it.
posted by mrbill at 11:51 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without counting out every single demographic here, some of you who claim there are only 1-2 non-young-whites in the Minneapolis reel have simply not seen the full round of photos and your statements are therefore inaccurate.

Yes, they are all female. Thats more about the general state of "nude" photography, I've seen plenty of female nudes in the standard public galleries but few or no men. So in that sense its kind of par for the course.

I suspect it is difficult to get many average-looking people, and older people especially, to agree to participate. That sort of assumes these people apply shame at some rate relative to that which society applies labels of non-beauty, which may or may not be true.

Personally I am uberfucking sick of not being able to see what I would call "normal" people in any naked context other than amateur porn. To the extent that this moves to make that possible, I am very intrigued.

I tend to find most women beautiful, and many of those are intensely beautiful to me. I am continually disappointed by men who buy into the propaganda and label 90% of the world as horribly ugly for not being stick-thin. We should enjoy the rainbow of fruit flavors and shapes and sizes of each other.
posted by cbecker333 at 1:28 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, what the hell is with the faux high Church choral music? Are these women religious icons, or what?

With the exception of Youtube, I have never gone to a website and said "Oh boy, it has sound!"
posted by graventy at 1:32 AM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here is something similar the photographer's project, as described (no models, no makeup and no glamour), done more powerfully, and with men. John Coplans.
posted by londongeezer at 1:50 AM on April 7, 2011


John Coplans.
posted by londongeezer at 1:51 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Coplans is to bodies what Blossfeldt is to flowers; it's abstractions of form, and doesn't say anything about the model. I like Coplan's work, but it's definitely a whole different perspective than what Blum is supposedly going for here. Coplan's images don't invite any participation from the model; frankly, they could be cadavers and the basic image wouldn't change.

Blum, by contrast, seems just to be using the guise of "everyone's (who is a lady) is beautiful and can be naked" to objectify his female subjects as a means of reinforcing his own position as the "artist." It reads like a character study in a David Foster Wallace short story.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:17 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


maybe "no models, no makeup, no glamor" is more like "no shirt, no shoes, no service."

i did find many of the portraits arresting and lovely, in an unprepared and humble way - and in that regard, felt like i was looking at "normal people" - sort of... but i too was disappointed in the lack of diversity in age and race.
posted by entropone at 5:52 AM on April 7, 2011


A corporation has appropriated a genuine artistic message to sell products, and then placed itself between yourself and that message so that you will always associate it with the brand.

That's not this guy's fault. Nor should we necessarily let our artistic tastes be dictated by the whims of the advertising industry, which has already used up almost everything and is constantly on the lookout for potential artistic/aesthetic turning points to lay claim to.


Even without the Dove campaign, I can't help but find it a bit presumptuous that this guy's message is "you are beautiful"--as if we need to be objectified to be told that, as if we need a male photographer to tell us that. With the Dove campaign (for all its problems), part of what was so revolutionary about it was that it was a generally-positive (though again, highly imperfect) message coming from an industry where women were usually told to feel like crap about themselves. But male artists, particularly photographers of nudes, are always telling women that they're beautiful--and that they'll find validation through their lens. It's kind of their schtick.

Yes, they are all female. Thats more about the general state of "nude" photography, I've seen plenty of female nudes in the standard public galleries but few or no men. So in that sense its kind of par for the course.

Just because someone is a participant in sexist traditions doesn't mean that those traditions (and the individual's actions) don't deserve to be discussed. Yes, this is predictable. It's still disappointing and sexist.

Don't get me wrong: his photographs are okay. But yes, it is misleading to say that you're photographing "normal people" and then photography people only from a narrow demographic. He reiterates the "people" thing over and over again on his website, everywhere but the section on participating, where he's finally more honest and says "women." That also shows that it wasn't just a case of only women volunteering. You ask for all tits, you get all tits.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:48 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Guerilla Girls comment; still apt.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 AM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


...there must be 10,000 photographers out there doing this exact same damned project, with all the pitfalls and everything...

Really? I actually rather like this sort of thing, and I don't see much of it around. Could you name some of the photographers who are doing the same project?
posted by The pets.com Mascot at 10:00 AM on April 7, 2011


"Some of us MeFites are better behind the camera instead of in front of it."

I've shot nudes of women, I hope to shoot nudes of women again. I think part of parity has to be me being willing to get shot as a model, by men or by women, and deal with the issues that come with that.

I will say that there are times when I've totally objectified models, in the bluntest sense of the word, and they don't even have to be nude. You just have to have the sense that the subjectivity of another person is totally immaterial to the shot you want, and basically order them around. Sometimes, it's the only way to get a good shot. It's always less fulfilling than having a model that brings their person, rather than simply their form, to the shot, at least for me — and I enjoy formal abstractions that are pretty much nothing but objectification — "Grab the pail and strain with it. I don't care what you do with your face, it's not going to be in the shot."
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on April 7, 2011


Also, I'll say that as a dude, I have a lot more implicit power when I'm being shot than a lady does, in general. The narrative for women is to be malleable and desired, not so much for guys. So when I'm being shot, it's a bit harder to not dom from the bottom, and it's something I have to be conscious of.
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


One other thing that recommends John Coplans is that he's got a fantastically rich tonal range. Seriously, like butter, especially if you see them in person. Blum's black and white stuff is so incredibly flat. Coplans is much more in the Weston tradition.
posted by klangklangston at 10:08 AM on April 7, 2011


He's operating in this traditional/contemporary (as opposed to traditional/classical, which held different values) male mode of art where the female body is a subject worthy of artistic contemplation...

Attitudes like this force women to objects, to always consider themselves subjects of the gaze and never wholly the gazer (especially when they're young and traditionally beautiful) whereas it keeps men on the other side of things, gazin' away.


You seem to assume men are the only ones who "gaze" at women. Thus, if only women are displayed, women are "never" the "gazer." It's a little more complicated than that.
posted by John Cohen at 11:18 AM on April 7, 2011


You seem to assume men are the only ones who "gaze" at women. Thus, if only women are displayed, women are "never" the "gazer." It's a little more complicated than that.

Actually, I don't. But like I said, there's a qualitative difference in women's gazing at women, namely that it demands identification with the object of the gazing when the gazing is female--the inevitable comparisons that arise in a woman's mind when she looks at another woman, the search for identification, and so on. That's why I said that the woman is never wholly the gazer. When a woman is always the subject of art, it makes it almost impossible for women to see these images in a way that doesn't also elicit identification or comparison (ie, for a woman to objectify herself through the process of viewing).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:27 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


hermitosis: "Though yes, I was bummed that there were no men."

Everybody knows if you want naked pics of dudes just put an ad on Craigslist in the W4M section (previously). I'm a straight married dude and even I know that.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:31 AM on April 7, 2011


I think part of parity has to be me being willing to get shot as a model, by men or by women, and deal with the issues that come with that.

I was referring to the fact that some of us (myself included) are not the body types that anyone would want to see photographed. 8-) I'll be buying a copy of the calendar, though. For SCIENCE!
posted by mrbill at 12:46 PM on April 7, 2011


If there's anything that the internet should teach you, it's that there's someone getting off right now to a body exactly like yours.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was referring to the fact that some of us (myself included) are not the body types that anyone would want to see photographed. 8-) I'll be buying a copy of the calendar, though. For SCIENCE!

Aw, see, this is exactly why men need image-affirming messages just as much as women.

You can be naked in my calendar, mrbill.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I found this quite interesting. I don't normally see people like this naked everyday, so it was new and intriguing for me. (maybe in your town all the women walk around nude? I live in Minneapolis, and most of these ladies tend to have their clothes on. I suppose it's because of all that snow.)

as for diversity, there probably could have been more, but YES IT IS MINNESOTA. so... yeah. that's how we roll, a lot of the time.

I was far more perturbed by the quantity of tattoos and piercings, which seemed vastly in excess of any kind of "normal person" sampling, to get hung up on any other aspect of it. Obviously, people willing to strip off for the camera here have a lot of overlap with those who like to get a lot of ink splashed on.

Could definitely see my younger cousins doing this; grandma, not so much. As someone said above, you put out a casting call (in a notoriously self-conscious state) and you take what you can get.
posted by EricGjerde at 9:05 PM on April 7, 2011


Thanks for posting this. I am always looking for photos to use as models for life drawing practice when I don't have access to real people. These ones are great for that.

I also like adipositivity, for beautiful photos of rounder bodies.
posted by lollusc at 12:45 AM on April 8, 2011


Everybody knows if you want naked pics of dudes just put an ad on Craigslist in the W4M section (previously). I'm a straight married dude and even I know that.

[adopts German accent, lights cigar, picks up notepad and pencil]
"Zo, 'I am zee Walrus', tell me about your mother..."
posted by IAmBroom at 11:33 AM on April 8, 2011


I also like adipositivity, for beautiful photos of rounder bodies.

lollusc, first: Loved the link.

Second: Know what I noticed after going through about half of those 400+ shots (Hey, I said I loved it!)? Mostly whites. All women.

And, not surprisingly, less body diversity than in Matt Blum's work, although in this case the title does pretty well define that part...

ZOMG! It's racist & sexist!
posted by IAmBroom at 12:34 PM on April 8, 2011


I've always liked Men in Full for artistic representations of big dudes, though it looks like it's not updated that much anymore.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:56 PM on April 8, 2011


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