Nudist visits to exhibitions, which are still unusual in our country but have been celebrated for some time throughout Europe, are activities that contribute a lot in making nudism visible in spaces where its practice is still uncommon. On February 29, 2020, the Club Català de Naturisme (abbr. CCN, ‘Catalan Naturist Club’) convened the first nudist visit to a museum in Catalonia, and some people from Young Naturists participated in it. That day we were lucky enough to appreciate the works in the exhibition L’Home Nu (‘The Nude Male’), which was temporarily housed by the Cerdanyola Art Museum, in a way that most of us had never experienced: we contemplated and treated nudity by being also without clothes and, therefore, shortening the physical and mental distance between us and the artistic object.
A few days later came the outbreak of the pandemic, and since then no other similar activity was organized until the fall of 2021, when Mon Feijóo and Paco Romero, authors of the exhibition BRAKUMO21, proposed to the CCN to hold a guided nudist visit in the Bellvitge-Gornal Cultural Center in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. This time it was an exhibition of photographs about the action of hugging -precisely ‘brakumo’ means ‘hug’ in Esperanto- which sought to highlight the importance of affection, the fragility of the body regardless of gender, age, or race, and its need for contact”, in the words of the authors. Of course, we loved the proposal, as it was so appropriate to the current times and needs! We immediately announced it on our socials, and on November 20 some people of our group gathered at the doors of the center, with the rest of the CCN participants, eager to interact again with art without the impediment of clothing.
When it was time to enter, we walked straight to the locker room. From there, some came out with nothing on, and others only with shoes and socks to protect ourselves from the cold ground. Once undressed, they led us to the place of the exhibition, a single rectangular room with black and white photographs that displayed affection, sensitivity, sweetness, passion; love in all its forms and manifestations. Naked people, young and old, of various ethnicities and genders, hugging and touching each other, covered only with the surgical face masks, which were the only colored element in some images. On one side of the room, there was a collage of smaller photographs that focused closely on caresses, brushes, and palpations; they were instants of contact. All of it was a precious and much-needed apology for direct human contact, so scarce, so missed, in times of pandemic.
It was magical to admire the art and also feel that we were not only spectators but also part of the whole message. By being naked, like the people in the photos, we were able to establish reciprocity with the images in a way that could have been very hard to achieve under the protection and insulation provided by clothing. After a while, we took out our mobile phones and made individual and group photos of ourselves, some with artistic intentions, adopting the postures of the models and hugging each other skin to skin.
Although in the end the visit was not guided and we weren’t able to enjoy the explanation of the authors, the experience was memorable and we loved to do a nudist activity a bit out of the norm. In fact, I think the lack of guidance, together with the fact that the photos had no titles or comments, blew the viewers’ imagination even further. What relationship did the people in the images have with each other? Were they part of the same family? Did they know each other from before, or did they meet for the first time during the photoshoot? What motivation had prompted them to participate in the project? These details, perhaps superfluous, we could only assume. All we knew for sure was that they were naked people, watched by other naked people.
After the visit, which lasted about an hour, we dressed again and met at the entrance with the other participants, where the farewells began. But we young people, not having enough with the short time we had spent together, decided to take the subway to Plaça Universitat and culminate the meeting with a glass in front of us and a few more laughs.