Art, porn or exhibitionism?
Spencer Tunick, 41, began photographing unclothed individuals and small groups in the late 1980s after graduating from art college in Boston, Massachusetts. He progressed to organising massive human sculptures to emphasise the abstract rather than sexual side of naked bodies and has created more than 75 temporary installations, each with hundreds or thousands of naked human bodies in public locations all over the world, including Mexico City, where 18,000 people posed in 2007.
Spencer Tunick (born January 1, 1967) is an American artist. He is best known for his installations that feature large numbers of nude people posed in artistic formations. These installations are often situated in urban locations throughout the world, although he has also has done some “Beyond The City” woodland and beach installations and still does individuals and small groups occasionally. Tunick is the subject of three HBO documentaries, Naked States, Naked World, and Positively Naked. His models are unpaid volunteers who receive a limited edition photo as compensation.
Tunick was born in the United States in Middletown, Orange County, New York. In 1986, he visited London, where he took photographs of a nude at a bus stop and of scores of nudes in Alleyn’s School’s Lower School Hall in Dulwich, Southwark. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Emerson College in 1988. In 1992, Tunick began documenting live nudes in public locations in New York through video and photographs. His early works from this period focus more on a single nude individual or on small groups of nudes. These works are much more intimate images than the massive installations for which he is now known. By 1994 Tunick had organized and photographed over 65 temporary site related installations in the United States and abroad. Since then, he has taken his celebration of the nude form internationally, and has taken photos in cities that include Cork, Dublin, Bruges, Buenos Aires, Buffalo, Lisbon, London, Lyon, Melbourne, Montreal, Rome, San Sebastián, São Paulo, Caracas, Newcastle/Gateshead, Vienna, Düsseldorf, Helsinki, Santiago, Mexico City, Sydney and Amsterdam. In August 1997, Tunick photographed a large group of nudes at The Great Went, a festival hosted by Phish in Limestone, Maine. [Wikipedia]
Tunick, who was inspired by the 1960s artists staging public “happenings”, says: “I enjoy seeing the change in people’s spirits when they are naked, their enthusiasm to go beyond their limits, shedding their clothing. I like working with people who have a new outlook for a short period. It also feels like taking colour off a canvas and starting over again with white.”
Nude Sydney… in front of the Sydney Opera House, March 1, 2010. Source: The Daily Telegraph. Click to enlarge (opens in new window): The stunning image was created in only a few hours, after all attendees stripped off and formed a base of naked skin across the Sydney Opera House steps. “I’m really excited that the participants will finally get to see the installation they took part in,” said Spencer Tunick. “Thanks to those participants we were able to capture an amazing moment and artwork that to me represents the equality and diversity of the city of Sydney. I hope the work and the art-action highlighted the city’s acceptance and pride in its gay and lesbian community.” Several other installations occurred throughout the day, with many participants filling the Concert Hall of the Opera House immediately after the Forecourt installation. Meanwhile smaller male-only and female-only installations took place in the Botanical Gardens, using the lush environment of the gardens as a backdrop.
Click image to enlarge. Hundreds of people posed naked on Switzerland’s shrinking Aletsch glacier on August, 2007, for US photographer Spencer Tunick as part of a Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness of global warming. Tunick, perched on a ladder and using a megaphone, directed nearly 600 volunteers from all over Europe and photographed them on a rocky outcrop overlooking the glacier, which is the largest in the Alps. Later he took pictures of them standing in groups on the mass of ice and lying down. Camera crews were staged at five different points on the glacier to take photographs. Glaciers are sensitive to climate change and have been receding since the start of the industrial age but the pace of shrinkage has accelerated in recent years. The environmental group Greenpeace, which organised the shoot, said the aim was to “establish a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body”. The Aletsch descends around the south side of the Jungfrau mountain in the Upper Rhone Valley. Alpine glaciers have lost about one-third of their length and half their volume over the past 150 years. The Aletsch ice mass has retreated by 115 metres in the last two years alone, said Greenpeace. Tunick has staged mass nude photo shoots in cities across the world, from Newcastle in Britain to Mexico City, where a record 18,000 people took off their clothes in the Mexican capital’s Zocalo square in May. Speaking to Geneva’s Le Temps newspaper in an interview published before the shoot today, Tunick said his photographs were both works of art and political statements. “I will try to treat the body on two levels. On an abstract level, as if they were flowers or stones. And on a more social level, to represent their vulnerability and humanity with regard to nature and the city and to remind people where we come from.” Click image to enlarge. Spencer Tunick staged a large scale nude photo shoot in Vienna, with over 1,800 stripping down and posing for him in Ernst Happel stadium. The installation was organized the Kunsthalle museum in conjunction with the Euro 2008 football championship. Spencer Tunick installation in Cork.
Spencer Tunick installation in Dublin.
Click images to enlarge:
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