It’s that time of year again–Nudity in the Upspace time. Coming off a wildly successful 2013 iteration, despite its fair share of controversy and Fox News coverage (are they synonymous?) that included an always welcome visit from Jesse Watters, new Nudity in the Upspace coordinators Cherise Morris ’16 and Sam Keamy-Minor ’16 sat down with Blog to talk changes to the week, staying true to its roots, and expanding Nudity’s presence and types of participants on campus.
BlogDH: What does Nudity in the Upspace mean to you?
Sam: For me, personally–and I think any one of these answers is going to be incredibly personal–Nudity in the Upspace is a space where people can be radically honest about a lot of the issues that we as Brown students discuss in sometimes frustratingly veiled terms. Things like body positivity, body acceptance, body disability, race, gender expression. These are all conversations that we’re used to as Brown students and I think Nudity in the Upspace provides this new forum to explore them in a much more honest way.
Additionally, being involved in events of public nudity (Naked Donut Run, Nudity in the Upspace) has really helped me come to terms with a lot of the aspects of my identity both connected to the way I look but also connected to other things. My queer identity, my male identity and how I perform my gender.
Cherise: Looking back at myself as an involved member last year, I do think it took me some time to get my feet wet. I was able to take my time. And I think that’s one of the really important missions of the week. We’re not just saying, “Oh, nudity should be normalized and you should be comfortable!” Because that’s a really hard thing to do. The week gives people all these opportunities to take their time and feel out what the experience is going to mean to them. Creating that system of dialogue is something that we often aren’t able to do as students, especially in a classroom setting when we are discussing these issues. We know what we are supposed to get out of it and what we should put into it. Even as coordinators we kind of don’t really know how everything is going to pan out. That spontaneity that accompanies the honesty is really important.
BlogDH: What are some differences in Nudity in the Upspace this year?
Cherise: One new thing we’re doing this year is partnering with Bluestockings to release a Nudity: Bodies in Context zine at the devised piece. We went to Bluestockings with this idea because we wanted to engage different audiences. There is this stigma around the event–you have to be naked and you have to be okay with being naked to have these opinions and to discuss these issues. You don’t have to do that. We wanted to engage people who wouldn’t even be comfortable showing up to the event. Expanding that range of voices is something we’re looking for this year, especially in light of all the controversy last year.
Sam: When you have a week where so much of it is exploring identity–whether it’s the identity we wear in our bodies or the identity that we construct external to our bodies–the fact that Cherise and I have very different identities [is important]. I’m the first male-bodied phe coordinating. Me and Cherise are both queer.
Cherise: We do want to respect the goals that Becca and Camilla set out as the event’s founders but inevitably, it’s taking a different form. This year we did different things with the space physically. We have a whole back wall that we are going to be performing in front of that is [covered] by attendee’s drawings. It’s a huge mural with all these different voices and input on it.