We might think of our culture as progressive, but I’d argue that shame of the human body has never been higher, in part thanks to a global culture forming around Facebook’s censoring of breastfeeding Moms, nudes in classic art, and pretty much anything that even resembles a nipple or even your kid, naked under a sprinkler. As we shovel more and more of this imagery from our consciousness we’re telling a dangerous story to the world.
Before this was an issue, there have been many decades of the religious right beating down what they see as inappropriate. Either literally or monetarily burning them at the stake. In the early 90s, this happened to this week’s guest, Jock Sturges, who had been shooting controversial fine art images of naturist adolescents and their families for decades. His studio was raided by the FBI and his photos and equipment was seized. While the grand jury declined to bring an indictment against him, and the French government flat out laughed at the charges and instead told the right that they were huge fans of his work, it was no less ruinous.
The amazing thing is how Jock, shook it off and refused to let it define him. His passion for capturing the shameless human form and the popularity of his work, has endured for half a century.
Jock is a very private person and rarely grants interviews. In this special chat, we cover his creative process and how he’s weathered the slings and arrows well beyond his (as he calls it) “do-si-do with the Feds” and into a world where photography as a profession has all but died under the weight of mobile phones, the collapse of the news media and the ever-reaching black marker of global censorship.
(music credit: "All the beautiful girls" Keren Ann; photo: Jock Sturges)