Shreya Shetty, a Bombay-based photographer and educator, will be showcasing her series, Bodies: A Fine Art Nude Series as part of a group exhibit at the Midsumma Festival in Melbourne Australia.
Shreya will be one of 11 Australian and international LGBTIQA+ artists who will be displaying their work at the exhibit. A Sophia College & Aegean Center for Fine Arts (Greece) alumna, Shreya draws inspiration from all art forms. While she dabbles in various forms, photography is her bread and butter. Her work includes a wide range, from fine art nudes to wedding photography to even pet portraits.
The series Bodies: A Fine Art Nude Series was inspired by a series of events in her own life, as well as her own relationship and struggles with her body. “I knew I wasn’t the only one who’d ever struggled to see myself, to accept wherever I was in my body journey, or to sit with the discomfort of it all. This inspired me to document people’s journeys within themselves and their bodies,” she shares.
The series is a celebration of the body in all its flawed glory. “My aim with this photo series is to document each person in the present journey that they are on with their own bodies. It is a love letter in the form of a photo essay from each of the muses to themselves,” she shares. Through the series, she aims to not only document, as authentically as possible, that relationship but also capture people in their truest element.
The series has been in the works for the past 7 years and has been shot on two mediums using four different cameras: Analogue – using a TLR and an SLR; and Digital – using a 5D Mark 3 and 5D Mark 4. These images are very rarely treated apart from removing identifiable tattoos or birthmarks from the frame.
Her first muse for this series was a person who she’d known for a very long time. “Once in the middle of a conversation they told me that they wanted to see themselves the way I’d see them. That they were at that stage in their journey where they were ready to feel closer to themselves and accept their body as it is,” she shares. Her muses have always been people who’ve volunteered or reached out asking to be a part of the series.
Making the muses feel comfortable is an integral part of the process. “I make sure that I take them through my entire process once over email, calls and in person. I take their consent right from the beginning and check in throughout the process to make sure that their hearts still in it. I learn about their lives and their personal journey; it’s through conversations and ensuring a safe space for my muses that I conduct each of these sessions. There’s a few steps and guidelines to follow that I send across to my muses before each session to help them ease into it,” she explains.
One of her biggest challenges has been carving out the time to photograph for this series whilst juggling her other jobs. “My struggles are limited to me. I’m trying to continue to fund this project on my own,” she shares. The most rewarding part of all the hardwork and love she pours into the project is the ability to create a space where a person trusts her with their stories, life and body. “I have the honour of being able to translate their stories through my gaze – that’s my biggest takeaway and most rewarding aspect of this series,” she muses.
Shreya, unfortunately. lost a large chunk of her work in 2016. “It took me a long time to move on from that. In 2022, I decided to showcase my work in queercentric and accepting spaces like the Satrangi Mela and SoHo House where along with selling limited edition prints of this series, I put up a poster for people to sign-up to be my muses,” she says. Since then, it’s an ongoing series, which she plans to continue to work on for next three years. “If my work speaks to you and you’d wish to be my muse – you can get in touch with me at email@example.com or connect with me over instagram @preciselypicturesque,” she adds.
In the 10th year, which Shreya aims to showcase the series as solo exhibits around the world during its 10th year and eventually publish a Photo-book titled, Bodies: A Fine Art Nude Series. “We are all skin and bones; it is the most natural state for us to exist in and yet, nudity is seen only through the lens of discomfort; called dirty and is deemed undignified. So as much as I want this to be each of my muses’ personal revolution, I do want it to be a conversation starter,” she explains. People, she hopes, will be forced to think about why nudity offends them, or what the pieces mean to them.
Shreya will be showcasing her work at the Midsumma Festival as part of The Pleasure Project, the brainchild of Tor Evans and Madeline Ferme. It is an annual exhibition that highlights queer women and gender-diverse peoples’ experiences of sex, sexuality, intimacy, and pleasure.
The theme for this year is I Admire, I Desire. The other artists on display are Clitopatra, Frances Cannon, Ggggrimes, J Davies, Jasmine Crisp, Kitty Chrystal, Laura Du Vé, Little Eyes Alien, Sara Lorusso, Shreya Shetty, and Wee Moody Judy. While the works on display vary in mediums — paintings and sculptures to photography and digital drawing — they are unified in their goal: celebrate the fluidity of admiration and desire through a queer, intersectional lens and highlight the nuances of queer intimacies and identities. The exhibition will be staged at BLACKCAT Gallery, Australia from 25 January to 5 February 2023.