Naked as we came
Photographer Sally Mann gained notoriety through the provocative pictures she took of her children, showcased in the book Immediate Family. Disarming in their insolence, truly owning their bodies, these children project boldly and defiantly - something we don't necessarily associate with the naked body or the naked self.
I imagine these children having the luxury of growing up barefoot, wild and free to roam; sylph-like, able to explore their strength, agility and grace, unencumbered by clothes, or shame.
It's unusual to see shots of adults with such raw, exuberant beauty. This quality of radiant self-possession is rare in general and nearly absent with the nude. I search a lot for this level of truth, self-love and raw empowerment. For something which is startlingly authentic. When I find it, it's disarming and it opens me. People comfortable being themselves give me permission to do the same.
Just being a porn star and being willing to go through the motions of reveal, doth not self-possession make. I do see traces of it in Sasha Grey, the wunderkind 20 year old who's myspace bio cites her loves for "rough sex, being silly like a pixie, true love and c.g. jung." I haven't seen much of her work but what I have seen and the way she describes it, it sounds like there is a sentient person engaging.
There is a beautiful closing scene in the film version of Story of O, the great Western treatise on de-civilizing. The way these children still have retained their self-confidence is something that O comes to after much unfolding and stripping down. One of the final frames in the movie is O naked amongst a group of people at a black tie party. She wears a beautiful mask of bird feathers and she stands open and vulnerable, yet exuding strength.
We humans come by it honestly, but often when it's removed, we need to return to it shockingly.
Photos: Sally Mann
Labels: naked as we came