(not) Naked with Masks by Ben Hopper

Why do we display our faces but cover our bodies? Walk around fully clothed and no one gives it a second thought, but walk down the street naked and you may be arrested for ‘indecent exposure’.

In 2010, Ben Hopper started work on ‘Naked with Masks’, a portrait series that parodied self-censorship and unlawful exposure by photographing anonymous models in public locations – nude except for their eye-catching masks. Each unauthorised shoot was carefully planned and tightly executed. Quick set-up, rapid getaway.

In the end, the police never arrived, but censorship soon came from another source: social media. Shortly after going viral, images from Naked with Masks led to a ban on the newly founded Instagram. It was the first of many strikes against Hopper’s work, and an early sign of how online platforms would grow to police both artists and the human body.

‘(not) Naked with Masks’ is a companion series to Hopper’s iconic original project which resonates with its themes of censorship, identity and acceptance. Each shot captures the seconds before a final picture was taken, with models posing to fix the framing and light exposure before the big reveal – and before escaping the sce... See more