Czech artist, Martin Gabriel Pavel, is photographing people stark naked on the streets of Vienna as part of his current photography project, Daily Portraits. Read the interview below to find out why:
Vienna Würstelstand (VWS): Please introduce yourself:
Martin Gabriel Pavel (MGP): I’m a 31 year old multimedia artist born in Czech republic. I’ve been doing the Daily Portrait photo series since 2011.
VWS: How many people do you think you’ve seen naked throughout the course of this art project?
MGP: I’ve photographed over 1500 people.
VWS: Can you explain the concept of the photo series in a few sentences?
MGP: Each series has a different concept. In the last series in Berlin, 381 people were photographed naked, and those who were photographed, also took photos of other strangers. For example, I photographed Elle in her apartment, then I gave her my camera and she went and photographed another stranger in his apartment, and so on.
Heterosexual people got naked in front of homosexual people, a refugee photographed a naked older German lady. This concept was important, because of the wave of xenophobia happening in Germany caused by the recent migrant crisis in Germany in 2015.
In the current series, which has started in February 2018, I’ve been photographing people in Brno, Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna. 100 people in each city. I’ve taken 334 photos so far. Brno, Bratislava and Budapest are already complete. A book of all 400 photos will be published in the summer of 2020, and an exhibition will take a place in Vienna.
The aim of this series is to capture a feeling, the atmosphere of the city through pictures of the naked body.
VWS: Was it hard to find people to get naked and participate in the photo shoots? How did you find them and how did you convince them to get involved?
MGP: I’ve found models through articles in the media and by posting in Facebook groups. It’s a snowball effect. People who already participated are telling their friends and spreading the word about the project.
VWS: Do you have stories to tell about the reactions of passersby when you’re doing the photo shoots in these public places?
MGP: I was photographing a fully nude woman on a street in Bratislava, and a couple was passing by. The guy was looking at the naked model for a bit too long, and his girlfriend slapped him. But, usually people don’t care, and mind their own business.
VWS: Have you ever been fined or arrested when doing one of these photo shoots?
MGP: I was photographing in Brno a full nude woman lying on the ground near a busy traffic junction. A passing police car was passing by, and the policemen did gave us a thumbs up gesture. I’ve never been fined or arrested so far. The photoshoot is quick, around 1 minute, and I usually shoot when streets aren’t busy.
VWS: What was your favourite shooting location in Vienna?
MGP: I really like the Republik Kugelmugel in the Prater.
VWS: I could imagine it’s quite liberating and quite a special experience for your models. Do you ask your models about the experience of being photographed nude in public spaces? If so, can you share what their feedback has been?
MGP: Most of my models have never posed naked before. They feel empowered after the experience.
VWS: Have you ever posed for one of these photo shoots? If so, what was the experience like?
MGP: I’m photographed naked in each series. I was photographed in Budapest for the current series in front of anti-Orbán graffiti. There was a security guy in the parking lot, so we had to be quick. I was just praying that the policemen wouldn’t not pass by. Adrenalin was flowing through my veins.
VWS: Can people still get involved in Vienna? If so, how?
MGP: Yes, sure! Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I photograph everyone who is 18 years and older, I don’t discriminate in who I photograph. I’m especially looking for older people, different races and people with disabilities.