The photographer celebrates the naked body in its natural state in her new full frontal exhibition in East London
All of us have one, hidden beneath layers of winter knits and heavy comfort, yet opinion remains divided. For some it’s a natural state of being, for some a salacious treat, for others a source of impropriety – there are many ways the naked body can be interpreted. Mari Sarai’s exhibition, simply and screamingly called ‘NAKED’ celebrates the form in a series of beautiful photographs featuring a liberating flurry of powerful women. Dazed speak to the photographer to discover the (naked) truth behind these striking images…
Dazed Digital: What originally drew you to photograph the naked body?
Mari Sarai: I met Japanese editor Masa Sugatsuke back in June 2009 and we talked about what we could do to collaborate with each other. He really pushed me to photograph nudes and then we decided to go for a new style of representing the female form that nobody had done yet. That's how I started shooting nude women.
DD: The art world has celebrated the naked form for hundreds of years. How does your work explore the theme?
Mari Sarai: The naked form I capture is very intimate, private and playful. It captures how a woman's eye sees a woman's body.
DD: Why do you think the naked body has been such a point of interest throughout history?
Mari Sarai: The naked body has been such a mystery. To have a peek at someone's private and secret lives is very exciting and surprising to the voyeur. There are always lots of possibilities to find out something new in nude photos.
DD: Were you influenced or inspired by anyone when producing these images?
Mari Sarai: I have very much been influenced by Helmut Newton and Steven Meisel.
DD: You speak of the naked body in terms of strength and liberation, but do you also think there is a certain vulnerability or weakness in being captured naked?
Mari Sarai: I don't believe in vulnerability or weakness in being captured naked at all - in a European country. But I think Asian culture still holds lots of stereotypes and an old mentality to nudity. So many women are still not free to everything in Asia. I would really want to tell them that nudity is not a negative or dark aesthetic. It's all up to our attitude. I want all people to have strong independent and free minds.
DD: Were there any difficulties in persuading your models to strip bare? How did you work to make them feel comfortable?
Mari Sarai: It was not difficult to photograph all the models naked - I have to say it was quite easy and a smooth process. With most of the girls, we knew each other already, before we had a naked shoot. So lots of them were already comfortable to undress and enjoyed taking nude pictures with me.
DD: Who has been your favourite subject to photograph within this series?
Mari Sarai: Anna Trevelyan. She was very first girl who I photographed naked for this project. And she looks amazing in the images. Also, Alice Dellal is my muse always.
NAKED runs at Blackall Studios, Shoreditch from September 16 – 20. Mari Sarai's second exhibition will be held at Doors showcase.