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Insights & Thoughts

The CamGirl Project: How the Female Nude Went from Beauty Ideal to Taboo {NSFW}

By Jules Ebe on October 11th 2013

Once we travelled to see the Great Master’s works in cathedrals, museums, or the homes of the wealthy and royal. Now, we can just click on any search engine and pull up hundreds of digital copies without a pause. The prevalence of the female form has became commonplace and no longer revered. To be honest, in many cases, it has become debased and little more than a commodity to be consumed.

In comes the CamGirls. If you have never heard of the term, it relates to women who do anything and everything for their webcam. The term originally applied to anyone who videoed themselves for all the internet to see, but now it relates almost solely to women who video themselves performing acts associated with sexual behavior.

So how does Botticelli’s Venus, Manet’s Olympia and Picou’s Andromeda relate to seedy online visuals?

camgirl-project-female-nude-went-beauty-ideal-taboo-feature

21-year-old former London College of Fashion student Vanessa Omoregie, has developed The CamGirl Project, in which she melds these two worlds together in order to challenge the current perception of beauty and celebration.

On her website, Omoregie explains the project:

“CamGirls is an ongoing investigative project that looks at the female image, with themes that question beauty, the way in which women are perceived, ideas of censorship and how the internet and technology have had an effect on this.”

In an interview with the Telegraph, Omoregie states “The project hopefully makes people rethink what they know about the term and how they view girls who choose to be in front of a camera -sexual or not.”

By re-contextualizing both the images sent in by women for the project and the original paintings, the viewer is forced to decide if the female body should be celebrated, or debased as a physical object meant only for someone else’s pleasure.

CamGirls project in progress, 2013 Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (1485) & Dream Beam

CamGirls project in progress, 2013
Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (1485) & Dream Beam

CamGirls project in progress, 2013 Alexandre Cabanel, Albayde (1848) & latenightdinnerfix

CamGirls project in progress, 2013
Alexandre Cabanel, Albayde (1848) & latenightdinnerfix

CamGirls project in progress, 2013 Raphael, “The Three Grace” (1504-05) & astro-sloth

CamGirls project in progress, 2013
Raphael, “The Three Grace” (1504-05) & astro-sloth

CamGirls project in progress, 2013 William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Return of Spring (1886) & zombiesloverocknroll

CamGirls project in progress, 2013
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Return of Spring (1886) & zombiesloverocknroll

So what are your thoughts of the project? Can the female body still be seen as something to be proud of and artistic, or is it relegated to being viewed as slutty or shameful?

Until Next Time . . .

Stay Inspired ~ Jules

To learn more about the project, be sure to check out Omoregie’s Tumblr.

About

is a Southern California based Conceptual Artist and Photographer. Her work has been featured in several print publications and selections can be seen in local gallery exhibitions. Connect with her on Facebook and Google+.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jason Boa

    I think this funny …. Is it supposed to be funny ?

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  2. care

    So what are your thoughts of the project? Can the female body still be seen as something to be proud of and artistic, or is it relegated to being viewed as slutty or shameful?

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  3. Ahmed mohamed

    a7a nice

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  4. Arno van Niekerk

    I think the dividing line between Artistic Nudes and Pornography is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish, because of the society we live in along with the ease of access to pornography. And even if a photo is meant to be non-pornographic from the artist’s perspective, the viewer might see it as just another porn image as they might be used to browsing through thousands of nude images a day, thus dulling their senses to the point where they’re unable to appreciate the photo for what it really is.

    To a large extent the interpretation of the artist’s piece has always been subject to the viewer, and it’s really sad when you have to share your work with a mostly unappreciative society. Either that or it becomes something even more precious, because it is appreciated by so few.

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  5. Stan Rogers

    In a lot of cases, though, we have the protective shield of time to guard us from the “dangers” many of the classic paintings we now revere. The entire odalisque tradition of the Orientalists was considered blatantly erotic, even pornographic, at the time; Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe was hardly considered an innocent celebration of beauty — even the Renaissance and Baroque mythological paintings were often thumbing their proverbial noses at the Church, meant to shock the establishment and “corrupt” minds away from authority. (For that matter, I’m not entirely convinced that depictions of Eve or Bathsheba within churches weren’t as much a matter of “sex sells” as anything you’d see in advertising today. There was Protestantism to fight, you see.) The academic nude was a students’ exercise, designed to get the pose right so that drapery would make sense.

    Still, if we put the idea of taboo around nudity aside, and even if we allow for deliberately erotic intent (and reception), there is a vast difference between artistic presentation on the one side and mere nekkid pitchers on the other. Despite the protestations of the scads of coffee-house poseurs and “performance artists” in thin, floaty costumery, not every expression is art, or at least not art worthy of attention — and not much of this stuff even makes that claim. It is mostly exhibition for commerce, whether the payment be in currency, subscribers or page hits. And while I can understand “hard” commerce, I worry about purely psychological payment (that goes for meatspace transactions as much as for the internet). Is your value really tied that closely to your physicality?

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  6. Mau VC

    You touch a very interesting subject. I believe that currently there is a misconception about human (not just women) body portraits based solely on how easy is now to do photography and distribute it freely on the web.

    One interesting wrinkle to this is that usually a photograph is looked as more obscene than for example a drawing. I am being told by many people (women specially) that they are more willing to pose for a painting or drawing naked than for a photography, regardless of the artistic merit.

    Then maybe the obscenity or artistic merit is “hard-coded” in our minds by how easily is now to take a “selfie” or a “girlfriend” pic and post it on internet. Is like the digital era send people´s mind back to when they believe that photography steals your soul and since you can argue that it requires more technical talent to do a drawing or a painting people coded those kind of works as “more artistic”.

    It could be just the other way around, just imagine a world where there are “painting machines” that allow you to make quick yet high quality paintings and post them on internet while photography remains in the same technology era as 100 years ago…

    Let´s take for example the image Alexandre Cabanel, Albayde (1848). You can picture clearly how this could be a great photography. If you told people this is a photography some opinions might be:

    1. Some people will see it as artistic expression
    2. Some people will see it a objectification of women
    3. Some people will see it as a hot girl in night clothes
    4. Some people will see it as a gorgeous woman that is not afraid of her sexuality

    But if you say that this is painting you surely will have either 1 or 4, almost never you will get 2 or 3.

    Isn’t it curious?

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    • Jules Ebe

      Absolutely. It is as if there is a disconnect; one is translating the form through the medium of an artist’s eye and paint brush / painting. Conversely, the photograph is a machine that gives an ‘exact’ likeness. Somehow, the likeness is then seen as crude instead of artistic.

      Add the internet, and we all know the internet is for ….

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