“Nudity is sometimes used as a tactic during a protest to attract public attention to a cause, and sometimes promotion of public nudity is itself the objective of a nude protest. The use of the tactic goes back to well published photos of nude protests by svobodniki in Canada in 1903. The tactic has been used by other groups later in the century, especially after the 1960s. Like public nudity in general, cultural and legal acceptance of nudity as a tactic in protest also varies around the world. Some opponents of any public nudity claim that it is indecent especially when it can be viewed by children; while others argue that it is a legitimate form of expression covered by the right to free speech.
Even in places where public nudity is tolerated, it is still unexpected enough that its use by activists as a deliberate tactic is often successful in attracting publicity from the media.
Some nude activism is not to promote a particular cause, but rather to promote public nudity itself, or to change community perceptions of the naked human body, or as an expression of a personal desire to be nude in public.” Read more and see photos on Wikipedia.org
“If ever there were a city where disrupting traffic felt like a political act, it would be São Paulo. Its 15 million inhabitants routinely take an hour to drive across town and can waste a month per year just getting to and from work. So when the dancers of Cia. Les Commediens Tropicales step in front of the moving vehicles on Avenida Paulista, sashaying in their bright party dresses and sombre suits to a jazzy Brazilian beat, it feels like an act of defiance.
More often than not, this resistance manifests itself in the naked body. In show after show, nudity takes on a political role. In part, this is a reaction to the censoriousness of the evangelical movement that helped sweep Jair Bolsonaro to power last year. In part, it is a response to the president’s intolerance of feminism, homosexuality and even the country’s famous carnivals. Standing before us undressed, the performers seem to say: “I am here. I exist. Do not deny me.”
That is the case, for example, in Isto é um Negro? (Is This a Black?), a joyful show about skin colour that defies you to ignore the flesh under discussion – not sexualised just present. Created by graduates of the School of Dramatic Art of the University of São Paulo, the first-hand stories of discrimination, informed by the legacy of colonisation, are angry and agitational. But there is also compassion, as Tarina Quelho’s production asks the audience to share the things that turn “us”, a group of individuals, into “us”, a collective of common interests. In a time of division, the simple act of coming together in a theatre can seem like a gesture of solidarity.
In Brazil, the threat to expression is real. Artists are aghast at the swingeing cuts in a country that has dissolved its ministry of culture. They are also fearful of the drive towards censorship. Last year, trans performer Renata Carvalho received death threats and lost bookings after she performed the Brazilian version of Jesus, Queen of Heaven by Edinburgh playwright Jo Clifford. That’s why, in Transpofágico (Transpophagic Manifesto), she stands naked before us as a “travesti”, in a blend of autobiography and polemics about a life spent under constant scrutiny. “My body always comes before me,” she says, choosing to put her body firmly before us now, even stepping into the auditorium to let the audience touch. Several opt to hug her instead.” Read more on The Guardian
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