PAINTING NUDES IN PUBLIC – IS THIS ART OR SOFT PORNOGRAPHY? - Ah, New York. It is your first trip to the Big Apple and there are so many places you would like to visit. There is the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and of course, The Metropolitan Opera. You’ve planned to see the history, the culture and the dynamics of the city when you realize a crowd has formed and in the midst of them is a young lady, apparently nude, covered in paint. This was not on your itinerary.
Should painting a nude body be considered art or is it soft pornography? There have been few exhibits that raise eyebrows and criticism as much as the recent surge in painting nudes. Not painting a picture of a nude person, but rather painting on the body of a nude person. To some, what is found particularly offensive is the public display before the “art” has been achieved.
In New York it is legal for a woman to be topless in any area it is also appropriate for a man to be shirtless, like the beach or just out walking about. This has given rise to many forms of expression, which includes body painting. Although the street fair in the video was taken during the day, you will notice the young lady does keep her panties on. With the intent to protect little eyes and to silence the more conservative voices, recent changes in the city’s law allow for full nudity painting to be allowed only after dark.
While we are talking about little eyes, it might interest you to note that you can also watch pornography at any of the city’s public libraries. Yes, you read that right. You see, while most of us think of the library as a place to sit and relax or take our children to story hour, there are those who will go for the free access to explicit videos and photos available through the public computers. Although there are filters installed on their computers, NY law has decreed that anyone over the age of 17 has the right to disable the filter and access sites normally prohibited. It is their right, protected by the First Amendment. Just as the body painters may use completely naked models after dark. They have rights.
But when does a right for one person turn into being an infringement of rights for someone else? The answer is not clear and in the vain attempt to not limit anyone’s freedom, New York has crossed a line that while accepted, makes many of us glad it is not our town.
Watch the following video and then consider if this is indeed art. Do you feel, should this be allowed on the streets out in public? Is New York on the cutting edge, or just teetering on the edge of public decency and morality?