Naked in Detroit: Art or exploitation?

By Kevin Dietz - Reporter

DETROIT - Is taking pictures of naked women in abandoned buildings art or exploitation of Detroit's struggles?

Brian Cattelle is the photographer behind the controversial BARE USA project. He describes it as black and white fine art photography that contrasts natural beauty with man-made decay.

"I set a goal to create this project and I'm out doing it," Cattelle said.

He came from Florida to Detroit to find the city's most distressed areas. He puts out ads for nude female models, and says he has no problem finding them.

"The end result is like an oasis of beauty amidst all this chaos and destruction," he said. "Going into an urban decay and taking the clean female form and putting it up against the ruin and decay makes for such an amazing contrast. The art you get out of it is just priceless."

He places the models carefully, almost having them blend in with their surroundings.

"What happens is that the audience is kind of forced to look at the picture more and they get to explore the picture more and they really get to soak in what's going on in these buildings," Cattelle said.

Cattelle said he knows that at times he's trespassing, but is careful not to sacrifice safety.

"I don't recommend for a lot of people to do what I do. I think that I might be a little bit reckless in my behavior," he said. "And if I feel that it's too unsafe, or if they think it is too unsafe, we just won't do it. That's my main concern. I am not as concerned with my own safety as I am with my model's safety."

Xinia is one of his models.

"For the most part, I don't feel like it's as dangerous. If it was like three in the morning maybe it would be a little different. In the middle of the day I don't think it is as scary," she said.  "I love it. This kind of thing is really big for me. I'm a fan of the people who do travel around the world and look for locations like this."

Cattelle's has a website showcasing the photographs he's already taken, Bare-USA.com.

He's also asking for donations so he can expand to take photographs in all 50 states.

Copyright 2014 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.