Berry Heart For Dinner; when nudity becomes art

A few months ago celebrity Kim Kardashian appeared nude on the cover of Paper Magazine; a move she titled ‘Breaking the Internet’ and despite the different views, many expressed concern and disgust as to how a married woman with a child could openly and publicly agree to appear nude on the cover of a magazine. Closer to home poet and human rights activist, Berry Heart, recently pulled a similar move. The poet, who is not new to controversy, uploaded on social networks a flyer of her latest single Berry Heart for Dinner. The single is collaboration with musicians ATI, Kearoma Rantao, Prez Beats and Socca Moruakgomo. On the flyer, Heart is squatting on the floor butt naked with her hands tied behind her back with a rope. Within a few minutes of flyer’s upload, there were already more than a 600 likes and comments expressing both distaste and envy.

One comment read, “Artistic poise: art may be controversial but that doesn’t stop it from being art. Creativity at times comes in shock treatment expressions. In this work, I see a bold young woman with a confident body image because she could have opted to use a model but opted to do it herself, I believe. I am a writer & I use words to shock in my creativity. My colleague here uses body image. I’m not puritanical or a prudish, so I don’t read any offense in this art.” The other read, “This is just despicable, why would a woman want the whole world to see her naked body? Clearly she does not have a child or a man because no man would want her woman to be seen like this.”

As to why she opted to promote her upcoming collaboration with a nude picture, Berry responded; “Nude campaign is a depiction of women in Botswana and other patriarchal societies. We do not own our bodies because we are treated as sexual slaves. We are  raped even when dressed, sexually harassed, Allen Bekker just called us prostitutes and bitches when we were dressed decently. Decency in women is non-existent, they have already undressed us, we might as well get naked.”

The single will be officially released on the 20th of July. Nudity in Botswana is still a taboo but in other societies with mature arts industries, nudity is accepted as a powerful form of art. Just across the border in South Africa, artists like Athi Patra Ruga is one whose works exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics.