The Naked Soul Poster

The Naked Soul

dir. by Krochmalny Syd, Argentina
runtime: 16 min
1. In the time of Cronus and in the reign of Zeus, there was a law according to which men and women who had lived just and pious lives were sent on their deaths to the Isle of the Blessed to live in perfect happiness; in contrast, those who had lived unjust and impious lives were confined to Tartarus, prison of unending expiation, punishment and grief. As so often even with the best laid plans, there were problems: judgment was often defective and the dead were sent to the wrong place. In response to calls by Pluto and by the guardians of the Island of the Blessed, Zeus took a key decision to guarantee the justice of deci- sions as to the final destination of humans after death: ‘I shall put a stop to this. At the moment the judgments are not well given, because the persons who are judged have their clothes on, for they are alive; and there are many who, having evil souls, are apparelled in fair bodies, or encased in wealth or rank, and when the day of judgement arrives, numerous witnesses come forward and testify on their behalf that they have lived righteously. The judges are awed by them, and they themselves also have their clothes on when judging; their eyes and ears and their whole bodies are interposed as a veil before their own souls. All this is a hindrance to them. Their clothes, and those of the judged, are the obstacles that hinder justice. What is to be done? In the first place, I will deprive human be- ings of the foreknowledge of death, which they possess at present. In the second place, they shall entirely stripped before they are judged, for they shall be judged when they are dead; and the judge too shall be naked, that is to say, dead. For justice to be done, let the judges only employ their souls to examine the souls of others immediately after their death, when separated from all family and after leaving all possessions behind on Earth’.2 The mythic, poetic and visual potential of this image is strong: naked and dead, Minos, Radamanthys and Aeacus, sons of Zeus and the three judges of the dead in Hades, judged the naked and dead, whose souls were sent according to the just or unjust lives they had led to the Isle of the Blessed or to Tartarus respectively. One of the most interesting aspects of this myth, with which Plato closes the Gorgias, is the idea of clothing as an obstacle to judgement as to a person’s moral condition – whether just or unjust, pious or impious. In the first instance, The Naked Soul may be seen as an attempt to reconstruct this image obsessively. By means of a ‘work against the current times’ (Nietzsche), Syd Krochmalny appropriates, deconstructs and reconstructs this image in order to realise a contemporary reworking of the Platonic myth in the image of the English activist, Stephen Gough: in it, the latter becomes the judge who will judge us and our clothes, in the wake of his solitary crusade across the British mainland. Krochmalny fashions the Gorgias into a logos with which to think through the question of nakedness, and more specifically, the physical, epistemic, political and legal discomfort, that nakedness produces in the onlooker. 2. Nakedness reveals all the contours inscribed on our bodies over the course of our lives: folds, wrinkles, wounds, scars, cares, illnesses. All is visible: the crooked and the straight; the noble and the base. What is it that clothing conceals? The imprint of the soul on a naked body and the imprint of a body on a naked soul. Letting the veil of clothing fall reveals all the marks left by our behaviours and actions. In The Naked Soul, clothing becomes a physical and spiritual obstacle to the ends of sociability and free movement, and to the rediscovery of our most primitive self-determination and liberty. 3. Our appreciation of Stephen Gough’s act reveals the prison of our own habits and customs, while, at the same time, reinforcing the pristine liberty of his own being. His crusade for nakedness gathers force with each viewing. From this tension emerges his care of self. In this sense, The Naked Soul extends Stephen Gough’s gesture. For, among other things, the idea is to sow the idea of nakedness in the mind of the spectator (...)


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