Having had the luxury of viewing Hyper Real on a number of occasions, one thing it has brought home for me is the detail in the human body. Freckles, creases, curves, skin tone, tiny hairs on arms or in ears, the delicacy of a baby's fingers, the strength in a pregnant woman's back.
Never moreso than on Saturday night when more than 120 people attended Art Buff at the National Gallery of Australia, a special event, held in conjunction with Vice, where we walked through the exhibition in the nude.
More than 1000 people entered a competition to win tickets, gathering, and disrobing, in the foyer of the gallery before the doors to Hyper Real opened.
Respect the art, respect each other, were the only instructions. With a complementary cocktail under our belts - not that we were wearing belts, just shoes for safety reasons - in we went.
I knew from the outset what exhibits I wanted to observe people interacting with, which ones I wanted to experience myself in this, well let's just call it state.
Of course people gravitated to the second gallery, where Paul McCarthy's That Girl is on display. Here several photographs were curated next to John Deandrea's Ariel 1, with people copying the pose. Later some lucky couples got to embrace next to Marc Sijan's Embrace.
It was interesting watch the reactions. On other visits I've noticed other people hurrying through this space, confronting and challenging, but on Saturday people lingered. I guess able to inspect the detail because our detail was on exhibit as well.
Talking to one woman afterwards, she said she was able to view That Girl more as a piece of art being naked herself. That on a previous visit there was that uncomfortable shadow, but being stripped bare herself, she said, there was more of an acceptance of the piece.
Indeed, I had the same reaction to a number of exhibits.
I love Sun Yuan's Old People's Home, the old blokes milling about in their wheelchairs but in this event it just didn't feel quite right. Walking into the room one of the wheelchairs made a beeline straight for me, and it was kind of like your grandfather had sprung you getting out of the shower.
The one exhibit I enjoyed more was Patricia Piccinini's The breathing room, with pulsating skin and body noises, I stood still for several minutes more aware of the movements, and the squishiness, I guess, of my own body.
I was also able to enjoy a lengthier stint in AES+F's Inverso mundus, taking a seat to watch most of it. Note to self, sitting down is not a good eyeline for an event such as this. Look at the screen.
And yes, there was a little observation of fellow participants. We're all human. No judgement, just an appreciation of the human body. It was a great mix of people, young and old, male and female, of all shapes and sizes. There were tattoos and pubic hair and piercings. One woman knitted, in the nude, while we waited to go in. Another carried a stuffed dragon through the exhibition. There was a man in a wheelchair. There was even one couple there on a first date.
Hyper Real gets us thinking about so many things. What is real, how we interpret that, it makes us question beliefs.
Did being naked change the way I have viewed it previously? Well, not really. But it made me realise that the human body is a wonderful thing, in all its detail.
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