GRACE ROSELLI’S ‘THE NAKED BIKE PROJECT’ – WOMEN AND THE MOTORCYCLES THEY LOVE
Artist, photographer and motorcycle lover Grace Roselli examines women and their raw passion for two-wheeled machines with her “Naked Bike Project.”
Jul 27th, 2016
A motorcycle is inherently an intimate vehicle. Whether driving or cruising along as a passenger, you sit in a car, essentially enjoying a comfortable chair similar to any you’d grab at home, in a restaurant, etc. But, you ride on a motorcycle as an extension of your body. Many riders take to their bikes for exactly that reason — rushing, leaning, weaving or jumping with a motorcycle as though dancing with a partner and putting those human senses of motion and balance to work interacting with a machine hewed from iron and rubber.
While ergonomics change between touring bikes, cruisers and sport rides, the human in charge straddles the motorbike — while its engine burns within inches of human flesh. As a result, there’s a not-so-subtle aura of aggressive, challenging sexuality to riding a motorcycle when the modern equivalent of Wild West outlaws throws a leg over a fuel tank. To be blunt, a motorcycle is called a “crotch rocket” for a very obvious reason.
Studies of a man’s chemistry with a motorcycle are rife throughout the arts and popular culture. From Easy Rider to The Great Escape, Captain America to The Terminator, Marlon Brando to Elvis Presley, when art wants to portray a man as rebellious, dangerous, powerful or sexy, he finds himself hanging onto handlebars. Now, a Brooklyn-based artist is taking a sophisticated look at how some very real women interact with their beloved rides.
Artist and photographer Grace Roselli created The Naked Bike Project as both a veteran of the New York art scene and as a devoted rider herself. Rather than create images of fantasy riders posed with random cycles as mere eye candy or pay needless homage to the kind of idealized, “pin-up” women you might find painted onto some custom bike’s fuel tank, Roselli sought out real women with varied professions, ages, and backgrounds. The common factors they all share are a love for motorcycles and a devotion to their personal machines.
The Naked Bike title refers to the motorcycles depicted in Roselli’s work as much as the featured women. Of course, some of the machines the ladies accompany in the stark, aggressive photos are shiny and new — polished for their big artistic moments. However, others show their ridden character with the dings and burns only thousands of miles can rub into a motorcycle.
Meanwhile, the women appear both clothed and in the nude — but the nudity is never salacious or exploitative. The nature of riding leathers and other protective gear necessary to enjoy a bike with a bit of sense often hides gender and removes sexual cues from a rider’s body. The nudity in Roselli’s explorations returns femininity to the subjects’ identities while presenting them without artificial glamour. We see the faces and sense the spirits of the women who love their motorcycles.
Roselli first fired up her Naked Bike Project in 1996 and explored her own fascination with the freedom of writing and how women interacted with it. She returned to the bikes in 2016, 20 years later after raising her children with a new perspective and a new collection of women to feature.
The artist’s exploration of women and bikes is still underway with no sign of wrapping in sight. It’ll be fascinating to see where the current run will take her camera — and if we might see a third tour with the women and machines of 2036.
Read more at http://www.craveonline.com/design/1013679-grace-rosellis-naked-bike-project-women-motorcycles-love#5xhkuzMFyS5gGp8H.99
* Grace Roselli and all of the subjects featured here are members of The Miss-Fires.