Candid camera

A rare nude photo exhibit draws large crowds in southern China.

Published February 1, 2001 8:18PM (EST)

Chinese softcore buffs have until this weekend to check out the country's first-ever showing of nude photographs. The racy exhibit, held in Guangzhou, the capital of south China's Guangdong province, attracts 1,000 visitors a day, who come to inspect 107 once-forbidden images of nipples, buttocks and genitals. Since the show opened Jan. 11, crowds have purchased more than 200 albums containing pictures from the show.

Artistic nude photos stirred extreme controversy in China when they were shown in the 1980s, according to Xinhuanet news sources. At the time, photographers were banned from displaying their work. On the epigraph of this show, organizers actually stated: "This is a delayed photo exhibition."

Sponsors of the Guangzhou exhibit solicited entries back in November 1999, and received 5,000 submissions from more than 600 photographers. Obviously, a taste for flesh was in the air. Chinese law is not specific about nudie shots, so organizers encouraged photographers and models to sign official contracts with the exhibit.

"It is an unprecedented photo exhibition, which signifies a parochial taboo is being wiped out. Chinese people are pursuing their aesthetic taste in a much more daring manner," said Liu Lei, director of the cosponsoring China Art Photographic Association.

The winning submission was taken by Huang Xusheng, a 60-year-old veteran who has committed his life to nude photography for more than a decade. He was overwhelmed with emotion after being declared the champ, and told reporters, "The art demands that both photographers and models have a lot of guts."

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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