Standing beside a nude photograph of herself, a 23-year-old model of only four months' experience, Yang Li, does not look as relaxed as the person posed in the photograph.
The photo of Yang Li was awarded first prize in a competition in south China's Guangdong Province to find the best nudity photographs. The contest, which began at the end of July, drew more than 2,000 entrants.
Yang was asked to have a picture taken by the photo of herself by visitors to the show of the photographs in Shunde, a city nationally renowned as one of the most affluent cities or counties in China.
"I could feel even my lips trembling," Yang said, admitting she was a bit nervous.
In a country where nudity has been traditionally regarded as taboo, a nude model has to summon all her courage to allow herself to come out into the public gaze. When a national exhibition of the same kind was held 18 months ago in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong Province, Tian Jing, the winning model, did appear at the awarding ceremony, but with half her face hidden by huge dark glasses.
However, organizers of this show decided to hide nothing. Instead of being displayed in an exhibition hall the photo works were exhibited in a busy plaza in Shunde, where everyone was admitted regardless of age and free of charge.
The exhibition attracted over 1,000 visitors daily. While some just glanced at the photos, others would stop, enjoy and even turned glued to the theme.
A visitor named Wang Haifeng stayed there for about three hours, studying the photos carefully. "I don't quite understand the art of nudity," Wang said. "But after spending so much time looking at the pictures, I can sense the beauty the photos and the models have created, from the physical beauty of the figures to the artistic backgrounds. And the power of art can overwhelm you."
Xie Mo, chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Association of Young Photographers, said the people in China are becoming increasingly open-minded and their potential to embrace new art forms and their ability to appreciate them should not be overlooked.
Organizers invited lawyers to be part of the contest and the show in case anything unexpected might happen, but were confident that their worries would be unfounded. "Gone are the days when people would have a fixed idea in their heads and feel impulsive after seeing just a kiss scene in a film," Xie said.
(Xinhua News Agency August 21, 2002)