Recently, artist Jillian Mayer photoshopped her face onto 400 nude selfies she found on the internet. The artist did this in an attempt to “universalize the nude selfie.” After doing research on naked selfies, Mayer felt “The tip that I found most interesting was to not show your face. Basically, that you should strip your nude body of its identity and send it to someone you want to sexualize you. I thought that’s interesting and funny but also really terrible.” As a response, Mayer gave her own identity to 400 naked photos, and the final result is on display in a museum in Montreal until January 4th, and can also be viewed at her website, 400 Nudes. My first reaction to this piece was: does she have permission to use these photos? Although every nude photo was found publicly on the internet and could, arguably, have been seen by anyone with a keyboard, using someone else’s naked photo for your artwork could be considered a little shady. Some of the photos were found on revenge porn sites, sites created exclusively for disgruntled ex’s to post naked pictures of their ex as a means of revenge. It’s bad enough for these women that their ex posted the photo, but now a photo, meant to be private when taken, is being photoshopped and displayed in a museum as art. Yes, their face was photoshopped out, but is it okay to use someone else’s naked body for your art without their expressed permission? Does Jillian Mayer’s project send an empowering message, or violate the privacy of the subjects? If a naked photo can be found easily online, is it still a crime to distribute that photo, or is it now considered public domain? Does photoshopping a new face on the body make a difference in the artist’s right to use the naked photo?

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