Photoshoot in China Sparks Debate of Whether Nude Photography is Actually Art

In the wake of recent nude photo shoots leaking into Chinese social media, no less than the official press agency of the Chinese government has declared that such shoots are not a form of art.

Xinhua, considered as the country’s biggest and most influential media organization,  has questioned the proliferation of public nude photography and its artistic value.

In the editorial 挡不住的裸?– 公开场合拍裸照,这样的艺术自由有点, (translated by Shanghaiist as:  Is Nudity unstoppable? — Public nude photography, this kind of artistic freedom is pretty “low”), opinion writer Hou Wenkun gave his insight on the topic.

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Shanghaiist provided a summary of the piece which also included a supportive view from a local lawyer :

“Under the shield of ‘artistic freedom,’ pictures showing public nudity have become more prevalent in society. Kunming lawyer Li Chengcai believes that the reason behind performing these indecent acts in public is that people’s thoughts are becoming more progressive and the way that they express their feelings is becoming more direct. However, one must caution that some people do not care how others feel. They have no common sense, are deficient in civil values and lack basic knowledge of the law.

“Artistic creations must have a bottom line. Did the people who took nude pictures in public ever think about respecting local customs and culture? Dali local Shi Huaiji said that artistic creations must not offend the prevalent social order, nor harm public interests. Our country’s traditional moral values and present social order does not permit nude photography in public areas.”

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A week earlier, a series of images shot from Dali’s Erhai Lake were leaked online featuring a naked woman. The model from the images stated that she posed for own individual and “artistic” project.She claimed that she and her photographer checked the surroundings to ensure no one else was around before they started, It was allegedly the woman’s driver, who secretly took some photos of his own and uploaded them online.

Some observe that once the photos of such nature end up surfacing online, photographers and models would then argue that they were in fact creating art and exercising their creative freedom.

Apparently, such pictorials have become a trend that it has caught the attention of the state-run media. The paper has accused those involved in the trend that they are using “artistic freedom”as an excuse to do as they please. “Some people lack self discipline, responsibility and the ability to judge what is right and wrong…” [scholar] Li Chengwei stated.

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Chinese netizens, however, are divided on the subject with some supporting the journalist’s view:

“I really don’t understand, why does nudity equal art?”
“If being naked is art, then everyone is an artist when taking a shower!”
“Porn is porn, don’t equate it with art.”
“What’s the difference [between this] and Japanese AV porn? Even primitive people had the decency to cover up their private parts with leaves.”

In defense of the nude photographers, some commenters fired back at the critics:

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“Why do people think being naked is disgusting?”
“Actually, humans are just animals, but they always see themselves as the kings of the land. They shouldn’t be covered up, but blend in with nature. This is true beauty.”

One reader, on the other hand, pointed a finger at Xinhua’s direction for discussing the subject instead of writing about other important topics:
“[Look at how] irresponsible Xinhua is. They don’t care about what actually matters. [For example, there are] typhoons in Fujian province and rivers flooding. Stop hiding them [from the public]!”

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