For another in the “Is it art?” series, we turn to a bit of performance art in Greenwich Village:
Ms. Hanford is part of the gallery’s latest exhibit by Brian Reed. She stands fully naked under a suspended web made of various objects including shark eggs and teeth, beads and clay pipes. Her nakedness is essential, Mr. Reed explained, “so she can be fully at the center of that connectivity” of energy.
Some may call it art, others something less flattering.
We actually have two questions here: whether it’s art, and whether its being art should excuse it. (Well, and there’s a third question, about whether we should lighten up and not be so uptight about nudity, but it’s not that question that I’m addressing here.)
To the second question, we have this:
“Simply walking around naked in and of itself is not protected conduct under the First Amendment,” Mr. Kuby said. “But lying down in the street naked with other people in order to express the duality of nature versus man, or to illustrate some post-apocalyptic vision, is artistic and does communicate a message.”
I’m very skeptical of that statement. Indeed, I can easily wangle an artistic excuse for “simply walking around naked”, in and of itself... or for pretty much anything else I might like to do. Why can’t one person who’s simply walking around naked be expressing the duality of nature versus man, or illustrating some post-apocalyptic vision?
If I say it’s art, does that make it art, at least at the level that it becomes protected by law?
And where do we draw the line between what we’ll protect and what we won’t? If those nude people whom Mr Tunick was allowed to photograph (read the article) had been, say, actively having sex, chasing people down the streets, or smoking marijuana, instead of just milling about amongst themselves, would the Supreme Court still have allowed it? Couldn’t all of those scenarios be justified as expressing some duality or other, in an artistic sense?
So, what do y’all think?:
- Is it art?
- Assuming it is (whether or not you personally agree), should it be protected?
- What are the limits?