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A Naked Guy Walks into a Mariah Robertson Photo

January 13, 2012

This film is intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

What makes an image funny? In this film, artist Mariah Robertson works with Bill — a male nude model she met online — taking pictures of him in her Greenpoint studio, and later, rehearsing a Martha Graham-inspired dance routine in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Robertson’s point of view is revealed through a series of jokes that highlight not only the artist’s wry sense of humor, but also suggest a critical engagement with gender dynamics, sexual politics, and double-standards within art history. Reacting to the pervasiveness of “purposeful nudes” — from paintings of odalisques to contemporary pornography — Robertson’s images of naked men occupy “a confusing middle zone” that mingle self-reflexivity with visual whimsy.

More information and credits

Credits

Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough & Joaquin Perez. Cinematography: John Marton, Wesley Miller, Clair Popkin & Andrew David Watson. Sound: Nicholas Lindner, Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler & Maren Miller. Design: Open. Artwork: Mariah Robertson. Thanks: American Contemporary, Matthew Dipple, Bill, Triskelion Arts, Ellpetha Tsivicos. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Licensing

Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson was born in 1975 in Indianapolis, Indiana, grew up in Sacramento, California, and lives and works in New York. A photographer often working without a camera, Robertson creates images through ceaseless darkroom experimentation. Without knowing exactly what outcomes her hand-applied color chemicals will cause, she balances this lack of control with her mastery of the material. Her willingness to push the boundaries of photography allows her a freedom not often found within the field.