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8 Oct

These photos explore the ‘cultural power’ of the naked

These photos explore the ‘cultural power’ of the naked

LGBTQ+ collectives in Taiwan and Berlin have teamed as much as present ‘Temple of the Body’, an interdisciplinary group exhibition that appears at nudity as a type of cultural and political expression

Earlier this yr, Taiwanese artist Yun-Pei Hsiung conducted an experiment at Pawnshop, Taipei’s underground nightclub. Inspired by the novel nude art of Yayoi Kusama and Yves Klein, he initiated an immersive painting workshop, inviting clubbers to enter a protected space adjoining to the dancefloor, undress, cover themselves in paint, and use their bodies as their artistic tools. Once complete, the artworks were displayed on the partitions and the doors to the dancefloor were opened, transforming the space right into a gallery.

“We desired to challenge Taipei’s nightlife by mixing Asian queer raving with the art of nude drawing and painting,” Hsiung tells Dazed. “The club became a canvas, where people expressed themselves not only through dance but in addition through the use of their bodies as brushes. It was a celebration of movement, creativity, and profound intimacy.”

Today (August 18), Hsiung is bringing his workshop to Berlin as a part of Temple of the Body, a two-day art and music showcase spotlighting queer creatives based in Taiwan and Berlin. It’s the brainchild of Taiwanese DJ and artist Jing Lekker and Chinese-born, Berlin-based DJ Carly Zeng. The duo met when Zeng invited Lekker to play at Dissident, a queer-friendly party series she co-runs together with her friends Gabrielle Small and Bryan Everts, known for throwing intimate, well-curated club nights that merge electronic music with art and drag performances. 

“I used to be really impressed with Dissident and desired to collaborate with them to showcase the abilities of my friends in Taiwan and our queer culture there, erasing the concept of nation and specializing in this concept of a world queer community,” says Lekker. “In Berlin, gay rights are so normalised, whereas in Taipei it’s just the start, but it surely’s also very forward-looking as a spot in Asia. The cities complement one another.”

“I’m excited to fulfill our crowd within the daylight for some creative activities and reconnect. Perhaps it’ll help people take into consideration party collectives otherwise, as a substitute of centring around drugs, sex and intensity,” Carly adds, “It’s also really cool to offer an area for the Asian community in Berlin, as quite a lot of Asian artists and DJs are still pretty underrepresented here.”

Featuring live music performances, panel discussions, workshops and DJ sets, Temple of the Body centres around a gaggle exhibition of artists and photographers who explore the importance of the naked body as a type of cultural and political expression. Collectively, they query what it means to desire, to embrace, to impress and to rebel.

Photographer Manbo Key of Taiwanese art collective Homopleasure exhibits images that reflect years of self-exploration and participation in LGBTQ+ events in Taiwan, indulging within the pleasures of the flesh and celebrating “diverse queer bodies as our personal temples”. Taipei-based photographer Chien-Wen Lin shows portraits and street scenes from his ongoing series Fringe Taiwan, which meditates on gender identity in Taiwan’s queer community. “I would like to showcase how our dynamic queer culture, though positioned on the fringes of society, radiates like a disco ball. It vividly unfolds,” he tells Dazed. 

 Also participating are Berlin-based creatives who’ve previously collaborated with Dissident, comparable to Swedish documentary photographer Sara Herrlander, whose images play with a way of “reversed gender gaze”. In her tactile portraits, female bodies break free from confines to breathe and expand in all directions, while her lens hovers over the intricate textures – silky, soft, rough – of male bodies.

“There’s something fascinating (and frustrating) about how intensely the queer body seems to challenge and provoke societal norms. So once we as a community resolve to go even further – to undress it – it becomes perpetually unapologetic,” Herrlander notes over email. “That being said, I’m eager for a world where nudity is just nudity. A nipple is a nipple. Bare skin is soft, wrinkly, scarred, bruised, hairy, blushing, without being provocative or dangerous. In my photos, I’m exploring exactly this.”

As for Hsiung, in transporting his immersive painting workshop to Berlin’s thriving queer scene, he’s mindful of the changing context. “In Berlin, we’re shifting the main target of the workshop from providing access to an exploration of how access is defined,” he explains. “I’ve often noticed a limited perception of what constitutes a horny and desirable body, a perspective that doesn’t at all times align with the variety of queerness we cheer for, especially as an Asian queer man. Ultimately, the workshop is a metaphor for seeing, feeling, and loving our shape, since the body is the temple of our soul.”

UWP x Dissident x Homopleasure presents: Temple of the Body at Kühlhaus Berlin, from Friday 18 August to Saturday 19 August.

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