Diversity is Our Business–& Going to Museums in the Nude

Describing his Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart Tasmania in the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian, gambler millionaire & iconoclast David Walsh says it is “a subversive adult Disneyland &

David Walsh

there is a sense where I’m trying to build an anti-museum because I’m anti-certainty. I’m anti-the definitive history of the West. MONA is experiential. It’s not a product. It’s not a showcase. It’s a fairground.

The MONA offers an after-hours guided “naturist tour,” in which patrons

would be escorted through the subterranean exhibitions while in the state that nature intended. The guide would also be naked, of course. Even the guards would be naked. Since many of MONA’s artworks deal with the intimate workings of the human body, any naked viewer’s involvement would surely be at a heightened level.

Re Smithsonian writer Tony Perrottet’s tour in the buff:

After an hour of exploring darkened gallieries, I finally began to relax about being naked–then we stepped into a brightly lit laboratory-like room. This was where an artwork called Cloaca was maintained. A mass of pipes and glass tubes combined with chemicals, it is able to reproduce the workings of the human digestive system. Museum staff “feed” Cloaca daily, then collect the odoriferous result 13 hours later. But it wasn’t the evocative smell that was shocking. The room was lit by harsh neon lights, and each wall was lined with mirrors, which reflected our images into infinity. Suddenly, there was nowhere to hide. We were visible from every angle. After this clinical episode, nobody had any energy left to be self-conscious. When we all ended up in the bar at the end of the tour, we stood around and chatted casually, still nude.

“Cloaca” from http://blog.frieze.com/the-old-and-the-new/

What I like here is that (1), as Ulf Hannerz pointed outGreg Downey echoed regarding anthropology, “diversity is our business,” & (2), as I mentioned in another post, privacy conceals diversity & perhaps leads to all manner of misunderstanding & trouble.

Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he founded the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly
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