When Attorney General John Ashcroft made a big to-do about the Spirit of Justice statue's exposed marble breast, he succeeded mostly in looking like an out-of-touch, crotchety old fart. Anyone with an ounce of respect for the First Amendment felt vindicated by Ashcroft's publicly looking the fool. But then came the exposure of Janet Jackson's very real breast, and the tide suddenly turned. No longer does Ashcroft stand alone as a pious killjoy. He's now joined by a cabal of born-again decency police who want to save us all from, well... ourselves. According to these Calvinistic throwbacks, the human body is dirty, and you should not look at it.
But would they be so philistine as to decry real, honest-to-goodness art? Take, for instance, photographer Drew Wojcik's "Body Scape" exhibit, which includes photos of the nude male body. There's nothing obscene about it. Quite the contrary; the St. Louis-based photographer has created a series of striking compositions, with only occasional hints of eroticism. It's all about form. Wojcik portrays his individual subjects within a larger framework, sometimes combining multiple photos to create a single piece.
"My photos are not only about the subject but the whole piece," Wojcik says. The show includes Grapes, which shows a young, blond model somewhat seductively inserting the fruit into his mouth. Body or fruit -- it's an intriguing shape. All the photos in "Body Scape" are in black and white, Wojcik says, because: "Look at any photo in black and white; everyone sees it differently." Apparently, he's onto something. His photos are requested at galleries in Italy, Poland, and even Bombay, India. Could it be that India is more enlightened than our own attorney general? Maybe ol' Johnny Boy can learn something from our friends in Bombay. And maybe one day our culture will overcome its aversion to the human body.
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