Thankfully we’ve finally come to accept it—there is nothing more beautiful than being human; vulnerable, exposed and raw. The Huffington Post recently published an article titled “The Top 10 Stories that You, Our Readers, Loved the Most in 2014” by Liat Kornowski. In it, they acknowledged the year’s trend of celebrating artistic endeavors geared towards expressing the wonder of the human body and all of its natural beauty.
Kornowski’s list is composed of the most liked, shared and commented-on articles in the art realm this past year. From astonishing pictures of nude-dancers contorting their bodies in unimaginable ways, to an interesting and naturalistic ode to female genitalia, many, if not all, of these pieces explore the beauty of the human body and its condition; hopeful proof that social media hasn’t completely altered the nature of what we consider art.
1. Every Year Since 1974, This Artist Has Photographed Herself In Nothing But Her 'Birthday Suit': While some are content with blowing birthday candles to celebrate their birthday, photographer Lucy Hilmer took the concept of the “birthday suit” to a whole new level. For forty years she took a picture of herself wearing only socks, shoes and her signature white "Lolly Pop" underpants. "I set out to make a picture of myself in my 'birthday suit' because in those days the saying was you couldn’t trust anyone over 30. In 1974, when I turned 29, I figured I’d immortalize myself on the last good year I had left,” said Hilmer about her project.
2. 'The Great Wall Of Vagina' Is, Well, A Great Wall Of Vaginas: British sculptor, Jamie McCartney engaged in an unconventional feat where he set out to expose the essence of womanhood… literally. He created a 30-foot polyptych of female genitalia entitled “The Great Wall of Vagina”, mean not to be interpreted as erotic or pornographic, but rather empowering to women.
3. Photos of Nude Dancers Show A Very Different Side of The Human Body: In his series "Poussières d’étoiles" (Stardust), French photographer Ludovic Florent, sets out to create an artistic expression of the human body in rhythmic contortions. "Every carnal envelope hides a soul that is both sensitive and flamboyant," writes Florent, giving insight about the nature of his project. Dancers play around with white powder, which simultaneously hazes and highlights the dancers’ moving muscles.
4. People Called These Pictures of An Artist’s Daughter ‘Pornographic.’ And this Was His Response:
In a photographic series, photographer Wyatt Neumann takes his daughter Stella on a cross-country road trip, in which the child serves as her father’s photographic muse. This series, however, was not popularly acclaimed among a particular “hyper-puritanical, neo-conservative group," who have labeled the series as child pornography, and consequently resulted in the elimination of Neumann’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, thus limiting his expression. Neumann fought back in an attempt to stand his ground and prove that censorship is nothing by exposing his artwork in a gallery.
5. ‘What I Be’: Photographer Steve Rosenfield sought to unveil the insecurities that plague most people and rid the victims of it in the photographic series entitled “What I Be," in which he asked his subjects to complete the premise “I am not my ________”. In doing so, Rosenfield attested to empowering the subjects of his photographic series, expressing “insecurities manifest themselves as secrets and are dangerous if they are not dealt with in a healthy way.”
Though some have been deemed NSFW (Not Suitable For Work), we seem to be more appalled by people’s embarrassment towards the human body than we are sympathetic towards this sentiment. It seems that in 2014 we, as a culture, underwent some of the first-steps towards self-acceptance. We applauded many of the efforts made to embrace the human body in all its forms, fought against the discrimination of all people and finally began to counteract the media-propelled notion that in order to be “beautiful” we have be anything other than ourselves.
In the age of media, where photo editing programs have plagued our perception of what the human body should look like, embracing ourselves for who we truly are has become increasingly difficult; however, it seems as though we’re beginning to overcome it.
So hoorah to all for a fantastic 2014, and here’s hoping for an even better one in 2015. Let the personal empowerment continue and prosper in this New Year.