“Photography for me is a way to be creative and also a license to discover that which I do not know or do not understand. It is a way to explore my infatuation with humanity. (…) I want my photos to have a quiet, yet fierce impact and power. Like a whisper that hits you in the gut. (…) Hopefully my photos pose more questions than they can possibly answer.” – Greg Friedler (Galerie Vervais website).
Greg Friedler (1970 – 2015) was a young visual artist who received his Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York. ‘He was a curious observer and acute documentarian of the human condition. He was fueled by a sincere desire to fully see, understand, empathize with, analyze, and sum up…. his fellow human beings. He was fascinated by identity, existence, and how people fit into a given society. His portraits attempted to unmask his subjects of their veneer and capture the rawness of their humanity on the page.’ (Friedler Website) He published 6 photography books and his art work was shown in galleries and venues around the world, particularly across the United States and in Europe.
Over a period of 12 years Friedler published 4 books in the series: Naked New York (1995), Naked Los Angeles (1998), Naked London (2000) and Naked Las Vegas (2007).Each book is a series of diptychs in which average persons are first shown clothed and then nude, identified only by age and profession. Friedler wanted to get to know the people, the trends, the energy. It is what he called a ‘survey of culture’. Unlike traditional nude photography, these images are not erotic or sexual; they simply try to portray real people.
His work as a documentary photographer was an investigation into humanity, a survey and study of people. If clothing is a voluntary choice, unclothed we see people in an involuntary state―we see their bodies as we see their faces, unmasked. Ultimately, all subjects are equally vulnerable in revealing their unclothed, private selves. In presenting them to us in this most elemental human state, Friedler emphasized the traits we share rather than our incongruities. The books are an intimate look at a cross-section of society, people we see and interact with everyday; people we relate to and resemble.
Two documentaries were made about Friedler at work: Vegas and London.
I chose the city of Rotterdam because it is a real metropolis and because of the characteristic nature of true Rotterdammers. I believe they are open, hard working and no-nonsense people. They are proud and don’t like to fuss about things but just want to get on with it. I like that.
I am amazed at how intriguing this relatively straightforward concept is. I have noticed that, unlike with other art books on nude photography, it has a certain appeal that makes me pick up the books again and again. Maybe it is my curiosity of wanting to find out what people look like without any clothes? Maybe it is the thought that you wonder whether a wealthy businessman would look different in the nude than someone on welfare? Or is it just the comfort it gives me to see that not all people have perfectly shaped bodies?
However, the most important reason for me to do this project is to contribute to Greg Friedler’s legacy. He made some cool artwork and I think his photography is great. Unfortunately I never met him but from what I read about him and from viewing the documentaries about him and his work, I know he must have been a very special, kind hearted and gifted young man. I would like to make more people aware of his work and in particular of his ‘Naked’ books. I decided to make a fifth version in the series as a tribute to Greg.
Since coming up the idea I have been able to contact Greg’s father and brother. They are very enthusiastic about my plans and I have their full support. This means a great deal to me and I am determined to make this project succeed. Secretly I am hoping that photographers in other major cities will want to continue the concept and that ‘Naked’ cities will appear across the globe! How cool would that be!
Greg Friedler and his dog Pepper
I am very happy to say that ‘Naked Rotterdam’ has featured in several newspaper articles and radio interviews:
These are images from 'Naked Las Vegas' (2007)
This is the TV commercial for Naked Rotterdam, made by IDTV.
This is the promotional video used for crowdfunding.
Below is an impression of the presentation of the book to Jerry Friedler.
This is one of the vlogs I made for the Aardig Onderweg Award.
These are images from 'Naked New York' (1995)
Featuring 165 Rotterdam people,
Over 320 colour photographs,
A total of 376 pages and 2,5kg,
Inside measurements 34 x 24 cm
Outside measurements 345 x 246 x 33 mm
NOTE: Orders from outside The Netherlands should be placed via email.
“Naked Rotterdam is a very special book, thanks also to the message behind it that people should be allowed to be just themselves – without make-up and polish. Aside from the impressive photographs, the impact of the encounter between Leon Schröder and his 165 subjects can be found in the short, personal motivations that are included in the book. This book is much more than a beautiful photo book; it is an appeal to look and think differently. In a time in which images can be manipulated, Naked Rotterdam is a ‘protest’.”
Conny Janssen - Conny Janssen Danst
“Leon Schroder pays the ultimate tribute to the artist Greg Friedler with this beautiful and confrontational book. After ‘Naked’ New York, Los Angeles, London and Las Vegas; Rotterdam just had to be part of the series. Leon’s biggest achievement; nobody looks uncomfortable in the pictures. With or without clothes, you see the same convincingly proud person. This illustrates not only the person in the photograph but also the power of the photographer. Only in this way is it possible to capture 165 totally different people as openly and honestly. Do clothes make the man or is your birthday suit the real you? A book to secretly peek in, compare and talk about. For all these reasons, this is a book you just have to have.”
William Rutten - Celebrity fotograaf
“Een prachtig boek, vol foto’s en verhalen. Allemaal verschillend. En naakt zijn we allemaal toch zo gelijk. Een boek om met een grote kop thee lekker door te bladeren. Stiekem de foto’s goed te bekijken en met een traan en een lach de verhalen van alle 165 mensen te lezen.”
Marieke - deelnemer
“‘Naked Rotterdam a tribute to Greg Friedler by Leon Schröder’ in bezit! De verwachtingen waren hoog, maar wat ik in handen kreeg overtrof alles: fenomenaal, magistraal, kolossaal! Groots in alle opzichten, het formaat, de dikte, het gewicht, wow! Mooi vervolg op het pure werk van Greg Friedler. Ik hoop dat Leon Schröder na Naked Rotterdam straks verder gaat met Naked Amsterdam, Naked Utrecht, Naked Den Haag, enz. Op naar Naked Global; het gaat niet om het naakt, maar om de puurheid, zonder opsmuk, zonder kleding; de mens zoals hij/zij gewoon is: zichzelf! Prachtige pure, soms rauwe teksten, schitterende foto’s, een boodschap aan de hele samenleving, maak het niet mooier dan het is, puur natuur, wees jezelf in al jouw pracht en kracht, weg met de illusie, dit is echt!
Mijn complimenten, grote Klasse, diep respect, meesterlijk!”
“‘Prachtig boek. Netjes thuis bezorgd. Netjes ingepakt, bezorgd en op tijd. Grote klasse zo trots op die Rotterdammers die zich laten zien in dit bijzondere boek. Een prachtige aanwinst op de koffie tafel in Huis. Een bijzondere fotograaf met grote klasse waar we zeker nog meer van gaan horen. ik ben nu al een fan van Leon Schroder.”