Straight Thoughts on Nudes and Ostriches (NSFW)

Being interviewed for a TV channel, in loco at one of my exhibitions in Lisbon, and standing in a room with female nudes, some animals and few other male nudes depicted, I was asked a question that the journalist was crazy to do: “Do you consider your art as gay art?”. For a moment I got confused as I felt that she was proud for such “clever question” that she made herself, then I realised the need of people to label everything, including clichés so they don’t get lost, aka think about it. I looked back and what I had as background was a female nude. On my side, a horse depicted.
“As a man, I don’t do straight art when I represent a female nude, nor I am into bestiality when I represent an animal. As a human I represent myself in the society.” I said. But in fact that question followed me and for some more times it stalked me. She was not the first one and she will not be the last one to ask this.

Female Nude, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Female Nude, 2008 – by ©Gonzalo Bénard

There’s a human need to label, to archive, as it’s easy to keep the records, so you can keep the mind lazy and be happy because you could find a drawer in your brain to catalogue. Unfortunately this still exists. And marketing takes advantage of that as it always takes advantage of all the human’s weaknesses, or they wouldn’t be specialized in that: to sell using the not-yet-well-worked-part-of-your-brain.

studies on a nude, by©Gonzalo Bénard

studies on a nude, 2011 – by©Gonzalo Bénard

by ©George Platt Lynes

by ©George Platt Lynes

If a woman artist represents a male nude, or if a male artist represents a female nude, no questions are asked. When a female represents a female nude, it’s also understandable, because she’s either feminist and wants to impose the female body as symbol of freedom, or she’s just representing herself in her models. But if a man represents male nudes, he’s doing gay art. Or he’s gay. No matter what, no matter if he’s representing himself in a more metaphorical way or in an attempt to understand himself in the world, or even as an act of freedom that he needed for himself. Like the self-portraits are labelled as narcissism in case of a male.
Maybe it’s just the media who keeps the human’s brain in that superficiality. But yes, this still exists.

BD #2, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

BD #2, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Queer art started as being a cry for freedom and became an art movement. Drags, transvestites, transsexuals or just acting as so. Check malesoulmakeup, a Queer Culture Blog.

Man Being a Woman, by ©Diane Arbus

Man Being a Woman, by ©Diane Arbus

Flower, by ©Robert Mapplethorp

Flower, by ©Robert Mapplethorp

Flower #1, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Flower #1, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

I don’t remember to hear anyone call the photos of the transvestites by Diane Arbus as queer though. But Robert Mapplethorp was gay and he did gay art, even if he shot a flower. A flower shot by a man is gay. Especially if the flower is in black and white. Put colourful flowers with naked men by Pierre et Gilles and it’s queer. Microscopic piss or sperm as background and you have Gilbert and George. But please, if you’re into being creative don’t ever put wings… just don’t. Wear them yourself in your pyjamas’ parties but don’t ever shoot them on anyone.

©Pierre et Gilles

©Pierre et Gilles

Piss On Us, by ©Gilbert and George

Piss On Us, by ©Gilbert and George

But marketing sells labels, so maybe you don’t mind to have a stamp on your work if it sells. I create to myself from the most honest me, and I really don’t care about the amount of labels people put on my work. Or the amount of possible interpretations they can do. And believe me, I heard the most amazing interpretations on my works. Each person is unique and that’s the most wonderful thing in humanity: the uniqueness and differentness. However, people seems to be more and more into a collective thought fighting to be different, not understanding that they just lost their personal identity.

Queen Saint Elizabeth, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Queen Saint Elizabeth, 2009 – by ©Gonzalo Bénard

I live questioning myself, and the society to which I belong. I’m a frustrated academic sociologist as at the time I really didn’t have time to do Sociology at the university with such amount of work I was having. So I read, I travel, I study, I observe, I question. And this has been always the key and inspiration for my own work. If I find that a female nude represents better what I want to say, it will be a female nude that I’ll shoot. Besides I like it conceptual to focus on the idea, without colours or backgrounds. Yet, I use them when necessary for the representation of the concept itself. From clean to messy.

Maid, 2008, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Maid, 2008 – by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Self portrait, by ©Andy Wahrol

Self portrait, by ©Andy Wahrol

And if I create a series just to tease with labels? In fact I did, few years ago when I found myself locked in the dressing room of a theatre in England: me, my camera and thousands of outfits and boxes with stuff for acting prostitutes or priests. Of course that I couldn’t resist, as I realised that I had to be there locked for the whole show time: 1h30m. So I did a series inspired in “Gay Clichés” (image bellow). Did I come out from the locker room gayer? Don’t think so. As I didn’t become more straight after spending 5 hours shooting and modelling nude with female straight and lesbian models. And just in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t eat any of the goats when I shot myself among them for the Oneness series. Their smell was a turn off for me, and I realised the importance of smell and other senses on my private sexual life, which was never related with my work.
And to be honest, I never felt the spirit of Simone de Beauvoir possessing me when I shot myself as woman. So I guess that I’m not feminist either.

Queer Clichés #1 to #4, England 2008 - by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Queer Clichés: sailor, drag, nun and drama queen, England 2008 – by ©Gonzalo Bénard

I’ve been labelled pansexual, homosexual, sapiosexual, and many other labels. Just straight would be so boring that I’m glad no one calls me that, but if it makes you happy, go for it. I like you to be happy after all.

This happens in a political correct world. In fact, the most classic males that I depicted were sold to straight conservative art collectors. The most obvious frontal male nudes (some of them crossing the erotic borders) were, most of them to Arabian straight art collectors. To people who were not afraid of being judge, or people who are secure and happy with themselves. Usually, people who are not judgemental are the ones who feel safer and happier with their own.

Embrace, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Embrace, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

My Silent Skins series, has most of the nudes as an androgynous representation, being silent related to any sexuality weight. They’re silent skins, human silent beats sculpted with skin. Your mind to judge or feel them the way you want: I’m just giving you silence. Up to you if you need to scream over them.

Or even ejaculate: I do not need to know.

Study on a Nude, #9, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Study on a Nude, #9, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Touching, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

Touching, by ©Gonzalo Bénard

We all understood already that we live in a world of dicks, so no need to compete sizes. In fact I do believe that the need of war is just a materialization of the most childish/brainless play of competing dick’s sizes. Typical straight male’s needs, in their deepest gay brain in the closet. War is the gayest need of a straight men.

But once again, they will never understand that, so worried they are measuring each other’s.

January, 2013 – text by ©Gonzalo Bénard for 2HeadS
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PS – I do prefer ostriches but a human intelligent and wise talk arouses me too, even if mine is bigger than yours.

About G. W. Bénard

Fine Art Photographer, Art Editor/Writer and Curator

21 comments

  1. H. Michael Wieben

    Very well stated. Labelling kills. Down with labelling! And the lack of imagination of the questioner who provoked this excellent response!

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