ART+CULTURE: Girls Unawares dishes up surreal scenarios exploring sex, taboos and body image
Images: Girls Unawares
Interview: Alex Mascolo
Words: Emma de Clercq
Not one for the faint-hearted, Girls Unawares creates surreal CGI imagery featuring nude bodies, disembodied genitalia and copious amounts of body hair. Created by Can Sezer, the cartoonish scenes act as a playful riposte to unrealistic and restrictive body ideals.
Girls Unawares primarily releases its content through platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram, where it joins the ongoing conversation surrounding body image, and more specifically, the growing backlash against media-spun body ideals. “You’ll find a huge movement where people are showing their bodies just the way they are,” Sezer explains, “you’ll find unshaved legs and armpits, cellulite, stretch marks and proper bellies. I think this is a great development. Our bodies aren’t wrong because they don’t look like the bodies in adverts.”
Sezer cites the hyper-sexualised, hairless bodies which dominate the porn industry as another source of inspiration for his work, which he argues present an equally dishonest portrayal of sex and body image. “Sex is not a job like it’s portrayed in porn movies,” he says, “where you have to fulfil the right workflow to get the perfect result”. By approaching the subject of sex through humour, Sezer hopes to encourage people “to stop taking genitals and sex too seriously. It’s natural and not forbidden or wrong. Anyway, don’t you think genitals look pretty funny?”
You have been referred to as an ‘erotic artist’. Would you say that’s an accurate description? Unfortunately, genitals and the various possibilities of what you can do to them is still seen as provocative. With the word ‘erotic’ I connect something hidden and mysterious, leaving room for your own thoughts. In my work everything is right in your face and for that reason I would call myself a pornographic pop-artist.
What do you think that Girls Unawares adds to the discussion surrounding body image? Although there is a huge body positivity movement it seems like it’s mostly women fighting for a new image of their body. Guys should become aware that they need to address the same issues!
How long does it take you to create each artwork? In the beginning it took me several days. It was difficult to sculpt exactly what I had in mind, creating realistic looking textures and finding the right look and light. I‘ve learned a lot over the last few years and now it only takes me around 2-3 hours. By now I have access to a huge library of genitals I can re-use!
How do you create the hair? The software I use has a special module for hair. I’m like a virtual barber! I have to colour, curl, cut and comb hair to get the look I want. Sometimes I even use a wind generator.
“The software I use has a special module for hair. I'm like a virtual barber! I have to colour, curl, cut and comb hair to get the look I want”