naked touch is Gavin Evans’ expansion of his previous work touch in which he explored the cultural and psychological limits of connectedness. In naked touch Evans invites the viewer to explore the relationship between the self and the corporeal, and contemporary attitudes to nakedness.
Members of the public, mostly strangers, were invited by Evans to be photographed naked and then asked to place the photographer’s hand in the frame. Unlike in traditional ‘nude’ photography, the participants are far from anonymous and have a very direct momentary relationship with Evans ‘the photographer’. This creates an altogether different cadence of intimacy and potential vulnerability to these photographs. The photographer is present in the image and his relationship to the sitter is transparent. He is literally showing his hand, thus giving us permission to look, challenging our status as voyeur.
The naked touch collection is at once topography and portraiture. Across these images patterns emerge of bodily boundaries and the self’s relationship with the Other. Simultaneously, personality reveals itself as the participants project themselves through the photographer’s touch and the photograph itself.
What is revealed is diverse. Some of the participants are confident, some vulnerable, some vain. A few disturb or subvert, while others show unexpected humour. naked touch runs counter to the oft repeated argument that the oppressive power of beauty advertising and media obsession with celebrity bodies has made us dissatisfied with our own. Many of the participants in naked touch seem at ease with their bodies, reconciled to their corporeal reality and unintimidated by the media’s ‘perfect body’.
naked touch encourages us to reflect on the nature of voyeurism. It re-presents the naked body in juxtaposition with the photographer and the viewer, inviting us to reflect on the limits of physical contact between strangers and to explore our own threshold of acceptable touch and nakedness.
Peter E. Ross