Using celebrities to endorse campaigns and using nudity to gain attention is nothing new. But a new campaign about EU overfishing has used naked celebrities in a way that is erotically and artistically compelling.
Marine life tends not to be the most compelling cause for us humans, with the exception maybe of dolphins which we connect with because they are warm-blooded and empathetic with humans. This probably has something to do with the fact that fish are cold-blooded, slippery and scaly. Marine animals are not a great subject for erotic art (with the notable exception of Hokusai’s famous woodcut The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife).
The Fishlove campaign, launched on 26th October, is brought to life by a series of photographs by Rankin of actors and celebrities holding endangered fish close to their naked bodies – skin-to-skin – caressing them. Beautifully shot, erotically charged and very compelling, these photographs draw attention to the imperative that the overfishing of quite a lot of types of fish in EU waters must stop.
It would seem that from the photographs each actor or celebrity is passionate about the cause – and indeed they are. Greta Scacchi is a co-founder of the campaign – along with Nicholas Röhl, one of the pioneers of sustainable sushi and owner of the ‘conscience-free’ Moshimo restaurant in Brighton. Seeing Greta’s (beautiful) photograph engaged her actor friends with the ‘stop overfishing’ cause – and soon Emilia Fox, Jerry Hall, Elizabeth Jagger, Tom Aikens, and many others were embracing endangered fish in front of Rankin’s lens. Now, as the campaign is gaining wider awareness, Richard Branson, Julie Christie, Mark Rylance and Benedict Cumberbatch have expressed an interest in doing their bit by being photographed – no doubt inspired by Rankin’s treatment of the human-to-fish relationship and the emotional connection it conveys.
The exhibition of these photographs – in Soho this week – grades each picture on a scale of 1-5 according to how endangered they are, with a description of the fish that each celebrity is holding and why we shouldn’t eat it. At the private view, the message that if we don’t stop overfishing them, these fish will exist in art-form only, was effectively brought home by offering vegetarian sushi.
So if you enjoy your sushi (and it is an aphrodisiac, after all), you might want to support the petition before an important EU vote next month.
All photographs in this article are by Rankin
If you want to catch this exhibition – hurry. It only lasts until 31st October at Pertwee, Andersen & Gold Gallery. 15 Bateman St, Soho, London, W1D 3AQ. Mon – Fri, 11am – 6pm. For further details, click here.