The Naked Truth

Woman in bikini lying on paddleboard in water. Above her head is a red keyboard.
An advertisement for a Logitech Keys-to-Go Keyboard. The keyboard occupies about 0.2% of the photo’s area; the woman about 4%; the paddle board (with keyboard and woman) about 14% or 10% without these elements; water about 86%. (Photo: Logitech)

This post is especially for Arild, an inmate at another institution – currently on leave.

This post began to emerge after Arild sent an email to Billi Sodd about Modesty, a series  of 8 paintings depicting seven generations of (western) women dressed in beach wear at 20 year intervals from 1910 to 2030. Since 2030 is still well into the future, two choices were offered – the minimalistic, with the wearer dressed in a hat, and the maximalistic, with clothing resembling that of a burkini. Here is a translation of that letter:

In the name of modesty, you have made a very daring piece of art. The idea and execution are good, but you must remember that there are some groups in the country that may feel offended by what you present here. Even I am a religious teacher at an academy in the county and raised in Western Norway, so I am highly provoked, and thus violated when I see a woman in microbikini. My many Muslim friends will consider it almost blasphemous to equate their decent Burkini dressed women with the West Decadent and Sexualized Women’s Idea.

Art’s essence is to be provocative, so you’ve succeeded with your artwork. Congratulations! But: Is it all art that benefits, has the limits of freedom of expression? I give you a good advice, dear apprentice painter: If you want to keep your head, do not try to show the two futuristic paintings to an Imam or other Muhammadans. Even I am :raised in a Protestant spirit, and then you will meet a provocator with understanding and respect, but not necessarily with acceptance. As mentioned, the artwork is well done and you have shown good color understanding. I want to take this opportunity to recognize your talents in the subject. I look forward to further contributions in your further artist career, be aware of the choice of themes.”

Billi admits that his intention was to provoke. His work begs the question: What are the limits of propriety? It goes beyond beachwear. It goes beyond clothing. I have considered painting a second series, with a focus on men, but not in terms of clothes. That’s because men dress in cars. The sportscar is the male equivalent of the female microkini. Of course, this series would have to feature 1957 – most probably a Chevrolet. I am considering the years: 1897, 1917, 1937, 1957, 1977, 1997, 2017 and 2037.

Male clothing, in this case a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-door hardtop. (Photo: hotrod.com)

Despite believing in God, and being a member of a religious community, I have an appreciation of the atheistic feminist movement, Femen. Their grievances with established religion are largely justified. Scandals emerge almost daily to prove their point. At this stage in human development, I can support large portions of the Femen manifesto, including:

“FEMEN Ideology: Atheism […] FEMEN’s Objectives: church – by putting these institutes through subversive trolling to force them to strategic surrender. […] FEMEN’s Requirements: to universally and completely separate the church from the state and to prohibit any intervention of the religious institutions in the civic, sex and reproductive lives of modern women.”

A typical photo from a Femen protest. (Photo: Femen.org)

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