Remember when unabashed nudity in photography used to shock us? In Ryan McGinley's latest photography exhibition entitled, "Animals," nude species share the frame, and the results are admittedly more boring than titillating, though there are some amusing moments.
McGinley is a New York-based photographer known for capturing the fiery passion of adolescence and emerging adulthood through images of pretty young things, often unclothed, who beat their breasts, scream off cliffs, jump into picturesque bodies of water and light things on fire. Yet in McGinley's new exhibition naked flesh takes the backseat to fur, claws and scales. "Animals" introduces Man Ray's nudes to National Geographic images. For the collection, critters collected from sanctuaries, zoos, and rescue establishments make human bodies their temporary habitat. They nuzzle into crevices, nibble at hair and gaze out at you in horror. The interactions between man and beast range from tepid efforts at seduction (snakes over bare breasts) to so-bad-it's-good camp (a marmoset wraps itself around a man's penis, its mouth agape).
In each piece, the titles combine color names with species titles to make illogical yet beautiful categorizations like "Lemur (Lilac)" and "Guineafowl (Azure)." These clearly defined titles and the images thrive off the playful fantasy of controlling an animal through classification. But as we soon see, these color-blocked backgrounds and clean naked forms get obscured, scratched up and pooped on when exposed to these unpredictable wild things. McGinley, who is 34-years old, described the works as somewhere "between a Hallmark card, a William Wegman portrait of dogs or just pictures that people take of their animals every day." We think it is safe to say there is a distance between McGinley's animal portraits and those most of us take of our pets, but you can certainly correct us if we're wrong.
"Animals" is on view at Team Gallery in New York until June 2.
See a sneak peek of the animals in action below. (NSFW... You have been warned.)