The Naturists

Julia Gaes

2014 - 2018

The connection with nature - arises in many forms. For naturists, the urge to feel it with their bare skin is potently held. Through the German woods the senses of freedom, naturalness and rebellion awaken altogether on their nude hiking tours - an unconventional protest in our digitalized world, where nudity is abundantly present in the media and remains yet ever so private in our daily lives.

My photographic work “the naturists” documents the naked-hiking-movement in Germany with the background in the Free-body-culture history, and questions the romantic image of human in nature.

At first glance, my photographs show the hikers wandering through the woods, hanging at garden parties, sitting by a fireplace or partaking in a bowling night - all of which, undressed. Nakedness here seems partly natural, emanates special intimacy or stands oddly out of place. Whether we are in an indoor or an outdoor space further plays a special role. Nudity usually takes place in a private environment or designated places. The naturists revolt against this very social prohibition and wander in public forests. Though nudity is present in all corners of media around us, the society is evolving from the liberation spirit of the ‘68, in a different direction. Nudity does not seem to be understood as much as it once was as a protest. Media influences and prevailing beauty ideals play a major role behind. Naturists’ actions speak of a yearning for the contact with nature, a break from our technological and digital world. Many longed for this touch even as a child. Man in nature as a romantic picture of our origin. But it is also a protest, against the more dusty nudist clubs blatantly vying for new members, and our conservative society. Nudity should not be banned, but the fence that surrounds the club embodies that. However, the contact with nature never takes place directly, even when they are sitting, there is a towel between the skin and the ground.

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