Naked as Trans (2023) '30
Philemon Mukarno is a renowned performance artist who explores the themes of identity, culture, and spirituality. He was invited to participate in the 9th Festival of Naked Forms (FNAF) in Prague, a monothematic and naked-genre festival that focuses on how human nakedness and nudity are perceived. The festival took place on the 1st of September – 3rd of September 2023 at cultural boat Altenburg 1964, a former cargo ship that is now a cultural club. The festival consisted of two days of art performances, lectures, workshops, and spatial events.
Philemon Mukarno, Fausto Grossi Terenzio, Jolanda Jansen, Kača Olivová ,Alois Stratil, Pascale Ciapp, Olha Skliarska, Darina Alster, Alexandra Holownia, Remi Voché, Ewa Rybska, Wladyslaw Kazmierczak, Anastasiia Prozora, Julia Kurek, Emilie Franceschin, Barbara Le Beguec, Dariusz Fodczuk, Eliza Mamardashvili, Saadat Aitalieva, Vlodko Kaufman, Martin Zet, Tina Hrevušová and Natalia Sara Skorupa.
The concept of the festival was Nudity as trans, which aimed to support all beings who have gone through any transition. The curator of the festival, Lenka Klodová, explained that the moment of transition is a moment of pure nudity in the sense of the requirement of absolute honesty with oneself. Nudity is also a transition since the biblical interpretation, where the recognition of one’s own nakedness is the moment of departure from the heavenly state to the human destiny. Nudity as a reference to an extraordinary personal relationship with God is also part of the religious trance, whether in the Eastern tradition of the Jurodivis or the Czech tradition of the Hussite Adamites. Trance also means a state where the state of consciousness changes, which is close to the definition of performance art.
The performance location
The performance location was on an abandoned industrial site near the boat Altenburg 1964. The site offered a contrast between nature and industry, as well as a variety of materials and objects that could be used for the performances. The site also provided a sense of isolation and intimacy, as well as a challenge for the performers and the audience.
The performance ‘Nudity as trans’
Mukarno’s performance ‘Nudity as trans’ was one of the most striking and memorable performances of the festival. He used his naked body as a tool to create a powerful live art and symbolic expression of his personal journey and transformation. He collected all the materials for his performance at the location, such as thick iron wires, stones, black soot, and iron rods.
He started his performance by entangling his body with thick iron wires, which felt very oppressive and heavy. Every movement caused pain due to the iron wires. He then tried to make a Christian cross out of the stones that were piled up there and then lay on the cross. This gesture evoked the image of crucifixion and sacrifice, as well as the idea of death and rebirth.
He then moved to an altar made of thick iron rods that protruded upwards. He tried to wriggle into the altar, which looked like a cage or a trap. In the altar, he underwent a transformation by smearing black soot on his body. The black soot covered his skin and gave him a new appearance and identity. He then moved to the holy mountain, which was a mountain of piled stones, and he disappeared into the mountain. This gesture suggested a final ascension and transcendence, as well as a connection with nature and spirituality.
Impact of the performance
The performance Nudity as Trans by Mukarno was a remarkable example of how nudity can be used as a medium and a message in performance art. He showed how nudity can express vulnerability, pain, struggle, courage, change, and liberation. He also showed how nudity can be related to religion, culture, and history. His performance was an emotional and aesthetic experience that touched and inspired many viewers. His performance was also a testament to his artistic vision and skill, as he created a complex and meaningful narrative with minimal resources and maximum creativity.
He believes that nudity is a natural and honest state of being that reveals the essence of a person without any masks or pretenses. The performance explores the spiritual significance of nudity in performance art, where vulnerability is used to reveal divinity, challenge separation, and awaken spiritual connections.
The performance ‘Nudity as trans’ is a powerful symbol of transformation and spiritual awakening. The act of going nude on stage holds deep spiritual connotations, purity, truth, and the unification of body, mind, and spirit. By shedding societal constructs and materiality, performers embark on a journey to reveal the divine essence within themselves and others, seeking to access heightened states of consciousness.
The artist has often played a key role in social movements, addressing issues ranging from immigration to sexism to gun violence. Through their expressive talents, artists can challenge cultural narratives, shift imagery, and inspire emotions in a way that traditional political methods alone rarely do. The ability to craft a compelling story that engages and captivates readers is essential. Advanced creative writing techniques can help take your writing to the next level.
The presence of arts is linked to increased neighborhood livability, community identity, and social well-being. Research ties the benefits of arts participation to better health outcomes, including lower rates of depression and anxiety, improved cognitive function, and better overall quality of life. Engagement with the arts can also lead to greater prosocial behaviors within communities, including volunteering and charitable giving, and can enhance social consciousness.
Art can be a powerful tool for addressing oppression and violence in religious communities. Philemon Mukarno’s performance ‘Nudity as trans’ is a thought-provoking exploration of the spiritual significance of nudity in performance art, challenging the audience to embrace their authentic selves and dismantling barriers that separate them from the divine. The act of nudity on stage becomes a conduit for shared spiritual experiences, fostering social change and promoting a more inclusive and accepting society.