For the first time in the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Russia Jock Sturges work re being presented. The whole life he takes pictures of nude families.
Some time ago Jock Sturges was a humble guy who served in army and was a photographer in the military base in Japan. He came back to his motherland in 1970 and got enrolled in Marlboro college where he was studying pedagogic psychology. Afterwards, he worked as photographer, was busy taking portrait, fashion and advertisement pictures, he also acquired master degree in arts.
Alongside with mentioned above Sturges was engaged in activity he always had passion to: for nearly 40 years he takes pictures of nude families on the beaches of France, North California, Netherlands and Ireland. He keeps coming back to the same places capturing his models in different ages.
As far as he was predominantly taking pictures of girls during their pubescence, he attracted attention of law machinery. In the morning 25th of April in 1990 police and FBI agents rushed into his studio and confiscated his PCs, photo cameras, negatives and everything else what was linked with his work. Just in few days after a search even the ones who never held photo camera in their hands were aware of his name. His name became almost a common noun after numerous TV reportages. FBI actions were recognized as unlawful later on but the very incident has shown that it is not safe to take nudity pictures.
Christian communities’ activists and outraged puritans started organizing demonstrations around bookstores in the USA where Sturges’ albums were getting sold requiring to exempt and destroy them.
American society blamed him in pornography. So what actually saved him? The answer is that he worked with girls from nudity communities where being naked was normal. They didn’t pose but they were naked before he was coming there and after shoots were done. Nudity was something natural for them.
When it comes to nudism (or naturalism from English word “Nature” the problems of sexuality and religious views should be taken into account. In a difference to antiquity with its cult of athletic body naked beauty, later centuries were picturing it as something abnormal and shameful.
Nudism as a movement appeared in Germany at the end of 19th century when a psychiatrist Heinrich Pudor’s work “Nudity Cult” and “Nudity” by Ungewitter were published. Authors made an accent on gym activities and vegetarian lifestyle. Another example is pictures by baron Wilhelm von Gloeden taken in 1890 on the Eastern Sicilian coastline. They represent a symbiosis of lost antique arts’ traditions on the destroyed temples’ background and provincial life of Italian village.
20th century demonstrates the constant opposition of human relations to the naked body. Naturalism adepts include Bernard Shaw, Albert Camus, Leo Tolstoy and Albert Einstein.
“More we can be under the sun rays and in the water, better it is! Ah, Frid, how wonderful is it to have an opportunity to take everything off yourself and expose oneself to the Sun. And just think about it, I told my girlfriend about sun bathing and she found it extremely disgraceful. I couldn’t’t imagine such kind of people still exist?” – this is an extract from Erich Maria Remark novel “The Dream Room” (1920).
In regards to this topic it’s also good to remember works of Russian authors such as «The Naked Sun» by Isaak Asimov (1956). This is a science fiction detective about one planet where people do not communicate directly but by means of virtual video conferences. Regardless of it they act absolutely normal and are not ashamed of their naked bodies explaining this attitude as regular attitude towards just an image.
One of the humanitarian victories of the 20th century is wordings of 8th August of 1974 accepted by the International Federation of Naturists existing under the UNESKO. “Naturism is a lifestyle consisting of living in a harmony with the nature. External part of such lifestyle is people’s nudity aiming at the creation of conditions for self-respect by a human, others and environment”.
Jock Sturges is sure that it is difficult to become famous working just in the field of artistic photography. Now he is famous but he thinks that permanent scandals around his person got him deprived of the right to know if his works are really popular as artistic design. “I feel like I was robbed and I will never be able to return what I’ve lost”.
And, when we talk about modern time, nudism is forbidden in the majority of Muslim countries and in China. Society is actively interfering in citizens’ private life, which echoes totalitarian regimes of last years. And if we talk about Russia then we should be aware of the still existing link between nudity and sex though naked person is clearly not always to be appraised as an object for intimate relations. The fashion on nudism encompasses many countries, takes over Western States in the USA and Europe, and gradually comes to Russia as well.