Nudists Stage Hong Kongs First Naked Photo Contest

Nudists Stage Hong Kongs First Naked Photo Contest
A nudist group is holding what it says is HongKong's first nude photographic competition to test whetherattitudes towards the naked human body have changed in the decade since thecity returned to Chinese rule.

Simon Cheung, chairman of the Body Arts Association, said Monday the competition tomark the 10th anniversary of the handover had received more than 300 entries,with eight awards to be presented for the best photographs.

"We want to see how the Hong Kong public will respond to body arts 10years since we returned to China.We want to see whether people are more conservative or more open aboutnudity," Cheung said.

Cheung had difficulties booking a venue six years ago when he organized alife-drawing contest. He now hopes the competition, to be held on June 16 whenthe winning photos and all entries will be on display, will be trouble free.

"Some of these pictures show sexual organs. If there aren't many complaintsabout it and the feedback is good, I would consider it a success," hesaid.

Nudity is still equated with sex in Hong Kong, which is now in some ways moreconservative than mainland China,which has already staged nude photographic exhibitions and also has sex shops.

In 1995, the Hong Kong Obscene Articles Tribunal famously classified anewspaper picture of Michelangelo's statue of David as indecent. The ruling wasoverturned on appeal.

Cheung contacted nearly 20 people to be judges of the contest and to presentthe awards, but only four agreed.

"Many of them said they were too busy and some of them told us they foundit embarrassing to come because they would be seen as indecent. They want todistance themselves from it; I feel very disappointed about this," hesaid.

"As an international city, Hong Kongshould be more open about nudity and it should be seen as an art form but notas something obscene," he added.

The Body Arts Association, set up in 2001, has 400 members who hold regularactivities and classes, such as yoga, painting, photography, hiking, volleyballand yachting.

Public nudity remains illegal in HongKong, despite efforts by the group to have a secluded beach setaside for nudists.