There is something very freeing about being anonymous because nothing is expected of you; nothing is getting back to anyone, and no one cares. —Dolly Wells
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]I’ve never actually done an official survey, but I’m relatively sure that the majority of nudes in my archives were done anonymously. It’s a thing. People want to participate in art, or want to remember their bodies before children, or how they looked when they were young adults, but they are very much afraid of the backlash of criticism that comes with taking nude pictures, especially if they’re going to be posted on the Internet. Comments, not just from Internet trolls but from family and alleged friends can be hurtful, cruel, and disheartening.
Artistically, there is also the reasonable argument that nudes done anonymously are open to greater personal interpretation. Without the identity that comes with a face, one is free to extend their imagination beyond a single personality, possibly even imagining themselves in place of the model. Where there’s a face there is someone else’s identity, a personhood inherently attached to the body. For a great number of people, that identity prevents them from being able to fairly and artistically respond to the rest of the body. All they see is “that person” nude. When “that person” happens to be a celebrity or someone of note, the work becomes all about the person and any artistic valuation flies out the window.
Shooting nudes anonymously has its purpose. When nudes are anonymous, one doesn’t have to worry that one’s children might accidentally find them in Internet search results one day. Anonymous nudes don’t require any effort toward hairstyles or makeup; one can literally crawl out of bed and straight in front of the camera. Working anonymously gives one more freedom to be expressive with their bodies than they might otherwise. Without identity issues, one can usurp the norms of a given society and use their body to make any number of statements they might not otherwise make.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]At the same time, however, working anonymously in art has many of the same drawbacks as other forms of anonymity. At the top of that list is taking responsibility for the statements that one makes. Being nude in front of a camera or for a painter makes a statement which one should, in ideal circumstances, own. Anonymously, one might poke at society, or a segment of people within a given group, without having to deal with any actual harm that may result from making the statement. We enjoy the freedom of being expressive, but fail to realize that, at times, being anonymous in exercising that freedom holds the potential for being abusive.
There is also the argument that working anonymously does nothing to help change public attitudes about nude art and being nude. If anything, anonymous works might reinforce the argument that being nude is somehow wrong. After all, if there’s nothing wrong with it, why wouldn’t one want to own the work? If we want to make nude work more accessible and publicly palatable, hiding the identity of those who participate does not necessarily help to achieve those goals. Progress comes in standing up, proudly, for the work that we do and not allowing anyone to shame us for it.
Still, reality forces us often into a position where anonymity is required. You’ll notice that we no longer list the names of models who pose for nudes. We made that decision because of the frequent stalking and other safety issues that come with a society whose attitude toward nudity remain warped and at time dangerous. For all the progress we’ve made the past thirty years in terms of accepting ourselves and our bodies as they are, our society still is too often incapable of handling nude photographs responsibly. Until those matters improve, some pictures will remain anonymously nude.[/one_half_last]