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The very first gallery in the world that exhibits naked bodies will open its doors on April 5 on the 4th floor of the Fashion House in Prague's Wenceslas Square.

Mário Petrej, the founder of Voayer Gallery: Nudity is absolutely natural

Eva Ledecká
03.Apr 2019
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5 minutes to read

Its name Voayer is the same as the name of previous exhibitions held in Prague. The last one took place last year in the Dancing House Gallery. You can find out what Mário Petrej told us about the exhibition, the unconventional gallery and the whole concept in our interview. Once you finish reading, you may even feel like joining the "exhibits". You absolutely can, Voayer Gallery is open to everyone.

Mário Petrej
Mário Petrej
From the exhibition Voayer

The Voayer exhibition was held in Prague in 2017 and 2018. What led you to wanting to just open a gallery?

I wanted to open a gallery from the very start. I had this vision that I'd create a space where nudity would be reflected in real time in some way, because it's very natural to human life. But I was putting the entire project together without financial means and it was more acceptable for me to start with exhibitions, where I showed people that it is possible to express yourself in this way, and at the same time, that it is possible to visit an exhibition of naked people.

And so came the time to create a gallery...

In the Dancing House I tested how people view this kind of exhibition, especially if it is situated in a gallery. And people viewed it way more positively than other exhibitions that took place in venues that, while interesting, were rather underground. People that visit galleries won't go to such venues, but they did come to the Dancing House.

How many people will you be exhibiting?

Seven new people every day. Always men and women. Very rarely not. In April we have one weekend with only men, and one with only women.

What will be the opening hours?

From Tuesday to Sunday. There are four entries in an exhibition day, they take an hour and a half and then there's an hour and a half long break.

How do you choose the people to exhibit? What criteria must they meet?

I don't choose them. Since they've contacted me, I assume that they are willing to strip. The only condition is being at least 18 years old.

And proportions?

Doesn't matter.

So it doesn't have to be women who look like models?

No, they don't even send me pictures, it doesn't matter at all. This is not an exhibition of beautiful people or models. This is simply an exhibition of people. Anyone can come, and we really do exhibit anybody.

So if I wanted...

Of course!

Do you have some regulars that you exhibit?

Yes, the first days we will be exhibiting people that have already appeared in some of my exhibitions, but overall it's set up in a way so that there will be new people every day, and there's a lot of interest.

Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2
Prodej luxusního domu, Praha - západ - 414 m2, Okolí Prahy

Why do you think people have the desire to exhibit themselves?

They want to try it, because it's very natural. It's natural to be naked and to look at naked people and to perceive nudity. What drives them to it? The need. I get contacted by women who later tell me that they had some kinda complex regarding their figure. But they came here and found out that it doesn't have to be a complex, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Does something like this exist anywhere else in the world, or is it a rarity?

No. This is the first gallery in the world with a permanent exhibition of naked people. Not the only one, but the first one, because we'll be making more.

And the exhibitions?

The exhibitions, in the way we organize them, are one of a kind as well. Of course people exhibit themselves but it's more stuff like 50 people stripping at once to save animals, or at a demonstration against fur production. But this doesn't have any deeper meaning, we aren't saying anything with it. We just exhibit naked people.

Who is this gallery aimed at?

Anyone who wants to come and see. It's for anyone, even though I realize not everyone will like this. I am not forcing anybody to exhibit themselves, nor am I forcing anybody to come and look. People are here of their own will and can leave at any moment.

Of course the people who come here are people who want to provide or view nudity. And nobody who is overly bothered by this would come see this exhibition. If only because the tickets aren't cheap, they're 550 CZK.

Luxusní penthaus na Praze 1 - 226m
Luxusní penthaus na Praze 1 - 226m, Praha 1

Have you encountered criticism?

It hasn't yet happened to me that a person would come to an exhibition and later tell me that it's disgusting. There are many comments from people who have only seen pictures. I agree myself that the pictures from the exhibitions aren't good, because not everyone can take good pictures. The space is always dark and only the people are illuminated. When you come and take pictures with flash, it totally loses the atmosphere.

It occurs to me that many people may say only "perverts" would come to an exhibition like this...

We have to talk about who "perverts" are.

Let's say loners, who don't have a woman at home to touch so they come here, because you can also touch them here.

We let in anybody who has a valid ticket, isn't drunk, isn't on drugs, isn't carrying weapons, bottles, any large bags. We search every person, we have armed security here. So every exhibited person is protected, I don't see a problem here.

Why do you think people are drawn to this brutal display of nudity?

That's such a harsh word, "brutal"... nudity is absolutely natural and everything you add to it is just words that move it somewhere where it doesn't belong. Of course these exhibitions are distinct with the particular way people are exhibited in various positions, so the impression might be a little bit brutal, but once again I have to say that the people who come here leave satisfied. And it really is an experience. You can't describe it in any other words than love, sympathy, understanding.

Have you also stripped?

No, it's not for me, I don't have the ambition to display myself like this.

If you wanted to lure visitors into your gallery, what would you tell them?

It is the first gallery where there are naked people displayed permanently. It is a very pleasant and life-enriching experience.

Can we even talk about art here?

The slogan of the gallery is "People are art". That's my opinion and I am covinced it is true. You cannot talk to the exhibits, but the communication is so strong that it will leave a mark on your life. I get messages from visitors that this has changed their lives, they understood many things that they carried within them, and so on. That probably doesn't happen so often, somebody coming up to a gallery owner to shake their hand and tell them the gallery changed their life.

The way galleries work, the artist has to add a lot of text to art so that the visitor can understand what they're trying to say. But this is very understandable. As soon as you enter, from the first moment you understand what is happening here, because it's very natural. Unfortunately we do not have this in our daily lives, usually we are on the phone, in online communications, partners see each other very little these days.

What if a day comes when no one will want to strip anymore? What will you do?

We'll never run out of people. People are art.

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