What would you say if someone invited you to take part in a photoshoot in which you would simply be carrying-out everyday activities? Well, except that you wouldn’t be. You would be carrying-out everyday activities completely, stark naked. And the photos would be going up on the internet. Hailing from Toronto originally, Fully Disclothed is a new project gathering momentum in Dublin. It invites participants to stretch themselves beyond the confinements of physical garments and physical judgements and do something that, let’s be honest, sends most of us into a blushing, spluttering fit of prudishness. People need not be wary, however. The idea is not to compare who’s got the biggest this, or the smallest that. It’s about putting yourself to the ultimate test and getting naked with yourself, body and mind, all in the spirit of self-discovery. Fully Disclothed encourages us to streak into the online wilderness and see if we come out the other side covered in warm-and-fuzzies, or at least with a higher sense of personal achievement. Totally Dublin met with founder Kale Ridsdale to discuss the naked truth.
So Fully Disclothed started in Toronto but has now travelled overseas to Dublin, how did this all come about?
I am originally from Toronto and moved to Dublin about two months ago. I ran Fully Disclothed in Toronto for about a year and started it last summer with my friend, and our original photographer, Joslyn, but since coming here I have been joined by Kate who now takes our pictures. So now we’re just looking at getting people on-board here in Dublin.
Have you found Dublin people to be quite reserved and slow to get on board this project, compared to Toronto?
It’s definitely been slower than in Toronto, but at the same time a lot of people are showing interest and we’re getting emails daily from people looking to get involved. The type of people we’re looking for aren’t necessarily those readily willing to whip off their clothes, it’s not a project seeking exhibitionists. We’re interested in people who would consider taking off their clothes to be a big deal, something which they would need to think through and which would mean something to them. So the fact that someone may be a bit hesitant is a good thing, I find the most interesting people are the ones who require some talking through.
How did the whole concept come about originally?
The tagline of the project is “Nakedness has nothing to do with clothes” and that comes from this idea that nakedness doesn’t necessarily refer to whether or not you have clothes on, it’s more about an openness to the world and letting your guard down. It came about from a personal project of mine which I called The Open Book Project whereby I had been making a conscious effort to open myself up to people, much more than I had been doing in the past. I began meeting up with friends and sharing with them things that I usually would have guarded and kept to myself. It was amazing, people who I had known for years were now saying, “It’s so nice to get to know you properly for the first time” because I was putting myself out there, out of my comfort zone. It was last summer when my friend Joslyn took up photography and wanted to start a project taking naked photos of people dancing that we decided to merge our two ideas and start something really unique and special. So that’s where the idea came from and we called it Fully Disclothed to represent “self disclosure”.
And it’s not just about the pictures, right?
Absolutely, for me the key part of the website is the accompanying piece whereby participants write about their experience alongside the actual photos. The person writes the piece themselves with no interjection or help from us; they do the shoot and then before they get to see the photos they have a week to do the write-up. I give them no guidelines, I just tell them to try be as naked in your words as you were in the shoot. We don’t edit anything apart from spelling mistakes and I’m always blown away by what people have to say once you give them that free space.
I imagine the thinking would be “Well I’ve already gotten naked at this point, I might as well go all the way now!”?
Absolutely, people are often more scared about the write-up than they are about the actual shoot, myself included. I was fussing over it on a daily basis and then when I finally posted it up on the website, immediately I was worried “Have I said too much? Have I exposed myself too much?” I’m not entirely surprised that people are more worried about their words, about how to present what they want to say, than they are about the pictures themselves.
Have you had any people come up with setting ideas that are a little crazy?
Yeah there was one fellow who wanted to be hunting, despite the fact that he was totally against hunting. He just thought that photos of him hunting naked would look really cool. And so I had to go over the whole idea about how this is supposed to be an authentic representation of who you are, what kind of things you normally do, so hunting probably wouldn’t be the best option! We have three shoots from Dublin on the website now, but we’ve got a few more coming up over the next few days. And the people aren’t just from Dublin, they range from Cork to Brazil, and the locations range from a home kitchen, to the sea, to the Dublin Mountains!
You mentioned in your write-up being hesitant about showing your stomach, do participants get to choose whether certain parts of their body are hidden?
No, other than choosing what activity they’re going to engage in to represent themselves, they don’t have any control, there’s no posing, no lighting. However, we do let them say the level of nudity that they’re comfortable with. If they don’t want their “privates” showing then we honour that and choose photos accordingly. But in terms of requests such as “don’t show my ill-defined thighs”, well that goes against what we’re trying to do here! I’ve had people say that they’ll take part a few months down the line once they’ve had the chance to do some sit-ups, work out a bit more, and I say no, this is an opportunity to own yourself as you are, not some ideal you. We’re encouraging people to accept how you’re body is, not strive for some image of perfection. It’s about telling the truth to yourself and to the world: this is who I am, this is what I do. At the same time though, this is not a project preaching how everybody’s beautiful inside and out. This is about getting in touch with your personal truth which sometimes isnt that beautiful, sometimes it’s down-right ugly. And that’s why the accompanying write-up is so important as it gives you the opportunity to acknowledge these truths and be comfortable with them.
And since coming to Dublin, what are the plans for Fully Disclothed?
For now it’s just about getting the word out. It’s not my full-time job although right now it’s all I’m doing. I moved during the summer to meet some friends and explore Ireland so now I’m just taking my time to get settled into the city and then in September I start my masters in UCD doing philosophy.
Words: Geraldine Carton / Photos: Joslyn Kilborn