February 1- February 29, 2016
Proxy Gallery is happy to host a work by Cindy Bernard from her new series, Your Personal View of (Social) Nudism.
In the series, Bernard works with images from magazines promoting a nudist lifestyle, many of which feature articles on the morality of nudism, the etiquette of taking photographs in nudist parks, court cases on censorship and the mail and the qualities of a good nudist picture.
The photograph that covers the entire back ‘wall’ of the gallery is from a 1960 issue of Eden Annual. On the photograph Bernard has drawn a grid in graphite, based on the film format of the camera depicted; moreover, since the grid is drawn in front of the photograph, it functions somewhat like the ground glass of the large format camera, positioning the viewer as the photographer and sending the image behind the glass, into an imagined space, in turn making visible the very process of photographing and activating the Proxy Gallery itself as a camera.
Removed from the magazine cover, thus decontextualized, the photograph calls attention to the position of the viewer and also the absent/present position of the photographer, possibly disrobed in order to photograph in a nudist camp. What it also underscores is the role of photography in the propagation of nudism as a wholesome natural lifestyle, devoid of “prurient” voyeurism. In this case, the female gaze of the photographer in the picture is “seeing” both the back of the woman in the foreground, and the photographer shooting the scene, and by extension us, the viewers, perhaps denuding us as well and including us into the triangle of gazes. Beyond the isolation from the original context, this "box that stands for a gallery” modifies the signification of the image in ways critical and discursive.
Image: Eden Annual No. 4, 1960, (Proxy version) from the series Your Personal View of (Social) Nudism, 2016.