Critics’ Picks

The Couple, 2007, digital print, 24 x 32".

The Couple, 2007, digital print, 24 x 32".

Toronto

Johannes Zits

Spin Gallery
1100 Queen Street West, 2nd floor
March 8–April 8, 2007

Johannes Zits’s new exhibition, entitled “Digital Twist: New Works on Nakedness,” features two series of photo-based works and a video (all 2007) that explore the subject of public nudity. The highlight of the show is a group of digital prints that combine found images of naked people with abstract motifs flatly rendered in pure colors. Derived from the Internet, the photographs convey widely differing motivations for shedding clothes. In Confrontation, a man taunts police in riot gear; here nudity functions to enhance an activist’s outrage. The cause of exhibitionistic thrills appears to inspire the naked display in The Couple, in which a woman clad in a bathrobe photographs her partner displaying his manhood—hands proudly on his hips—in an apartment window overlooking the street. Some pictures have a more historical intent: Twickenham Streaker documents the supposed first recorded streaking event—at the England-France Rugby Union Game in 1974. And other images document news media, such as Locker Room, where a female reporter—armed with phallic microphone—interviews strutting, disrobed athletes; this sort of nudity provokes reflection on the sensational intent of network “news” and invites comparison with the notorious pornographic website nakednews.com. In all of these images, the naked are often clearly depicted in contrast with the surrounding figures and setting, which are either heavily pixelated or replaced with square motifs; conventionally, these shapes and distortions are employed by censors for the purpose of hiding genitalia rather than what surrounds them. With its formal rigor and thematic diversity, Zits’s series may be envisioned as a careful study and celebration of a diverse nude culture.