Monday, May 2, 2016

In The Nude with Spencer Tunick (repost)

"A body is a living entity. It represents life, freedom, sensuality, and it is a mechanism to carry out our thoughts. A body is always beautiful to me." ~ Spencer Tunick

I was a model for Spencer Tunick

By Chris Dobney, Online Entertainment Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
March 1, 2010

Ever wondered what people in the street might look like naked? Today was your chance to find out. The answer, as I discovered very early this morning, was: remarkably varied, and yet ultimately the same.

This was the aim for artist Spencer Tunick, who conceived today's "installation" of more than 5000 nude people on the Opera House steps and forecourt as an embrace between Sydney's gay and straight communities.

Courtesy of Greg Wood & AFP/Getty Images

Fear of being naked in public was just one of the challenges faced by many of participants, who flocked into the CBD from 4am today. Queuing was to be a hallmark of the day as people queued to get in, queued for the loos, queued for coffees, and, yes, even queued to strip off.

My friends and I left Neutral Bay just before 4am and, after a dream run into the city, came to a screeching halt at the corner of George and Bridge streets. Impatient as we were, it gave us a chance to check out the people in the street. Clearly, at this time in the morning, they were all heading to the same place we were.

There were elderly couples walking down Macquarie Street, single young women in cars and plenty of gay groups whooping it up as they headed down towards the Quay. After 45 minutes stuck in a traffic snarl of soon-to be naked people, we finally emerged from the Opera House car park. We were each handed a plastic bag for our clothes and directed into a marshalling area inside The Domain.

Soon after we arrived, a loudspeaker crackled into life and we were instructed to keep our clothes on for the time being (not hard considering it was a nippy 15 degrees) and to await further instructions. About 6am, Tunick welcomed us, thanking the "heterosexual people who have come here to get naked with their gay friends."

Just on dawn came the instruction that everyone had been waiting for. There was a whoop and a cheer from the crowd as the first group disrobed and ran into the forecourt. Finally it was our turn and, in no time, we were running up the Opera House steps in a state that on any other day would get us arrested. One woman beside me shouted to her friend: "This is surreal. It's like a dream."

"It's like my worst nightmare," groaned her friend.

The excitement was palpable, to be standing naked in such a public place and among so many people. But quite soon the cheers were replaced by "oooooh" as a chilly wind blew up. Inhibitions were soon forgotten as people struggled to keep warm and fulfil Tunick's endless instructions.

"I'm not the world's best photographer but I am an artist and a perfectionist," he said, as he exhorted 5000 people to work in unison. "And I want us to make an artwork you'll be proud of." Six or seven positions later came Tunick's most confronting request. "If you came with a partner, I want you to kiss your partner. If you came with a friend, I want you to kiss your friend. If you came alone, I want you to turn to someone else who is alone and kiss them." Eventually he relented and added, "... or embrace them."

Suddenly I was aware of being alone in a crowd: I was surrounded by couples. Bounding up several steps I came face to face with an elderly man in the same predicament. We took one look at each other and embraced, admitting that, while it felt a little strange at first, it was a pleasant enough way to keep warm. Now the crowd really were as one. It was a beautiful moment.

Once Tunick gave the disband signal, most people scrambled for their clothes, while some hung back, grabbing the unique opportunity to take happy snaps of themselves starkers at the Opera House. As I dressed, I was relieved to be warm again at last but also a little disappointed that it was over so soon.

About 1800 people stripped naked in May 2008 for Spencer Tunick at the Ernst Happel football stadium in Vienna (Photo: Reuters)

Naked volunteers pose for Spencer Tunick in the Europarking building in Amsterdam in 2007 (Photo: Reuters)

Undress circle: naked volunteers pose for Tunick in a Bruges theatre in 2005 (Photo: Peter Maenhoudt/Reuters)

Thousands of naked people fill Mexico City's Zocalo Plaza during the massive naked photo session with U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick in 2007 (Photo: AP)

Spencer Tunick photographs a massive landscape of human bodies in Melbourne in 2007 (Photo: Wayne Taylor)

Naked volunteers pose for Spencer Tunick on the Aletsch glacier in 2007 (Photo: Reuters)

Spencer Tunick in Sydney, 2010 (Photo: Kate Geraghty)

[Special thanks to Hari Ho for alerting me to this uplifting art event. First posted 3 March 2010]


KoSong Cafe said...

This an amazing feat - being able to gather a few thousands of people is good but to gather a few thousands willing to go naked in public is incredible.

Monyet King said...

Antares, if you organize one of these sessions here in Malaysia, I would volunteer.

Pat said...

I salute the 'bodies' who took part.

I myself would never have the guts, because I have too many hangups about my body.

But it must be freeing and wonderful to just be, and not care about anything else.

A brilliant piece, Ant. As usual. And, like Pooh Bear, I'll be thunking about it for the rest of the day :)

Anonymous said...

My wife asked me if I would join if I were there. I say if you are not naked like them you'll really feel out of place. Reminds me of a story my nephew told me. When he was a student in Canada, he and his friends decided to take a peek into a nudist camp nearby where he lived. They decided the only way to do it without shedding themselves was to pretend to go net fishing. What they got was more than they bargained for because soon they were surrounded by a group of naked people curious see what they have netted.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the time when my friends and I were in the men's changing room at the Mindef swimming pool (the pool is gone now.) Normally we'd strip down to don our swimming trunks. But one day a group of mat salleh youngsters were standing around naked at the shower. The well endowed caucasians made us feel 'inadequate' that we decided not to 'reveal' ourselves. To this day, I feel 'under-equipped' when faced with similar situation.

Starmandala said...

KoSongCafe - Exactly! That's what impressed me about Tunick's work, that he can find a way to get past bureaucratic barriers based on his reputation alone (although I read somewhere that his efforts have got him arrested seven times in the US!)

POTM - You can sign up for future Tunick projects at his homepage (click on his name after the quote). I already did :-)

Patricia - if your hubby still hasn't snuck off in the middle of the night, things can't be too bad! Besides, Tunick's approach to human nudity kinda desexes the undressed state - so it's like being born or being given a last bath before burial, nothing lewd about it. And nobody who participates is there to compare bodies.

Anonymous @ 10:06AM - Your nephew reminds me of the Sri Lankan refugees who used to loiter around the English Garden in the center of Munich where every summer day during the lunch break, office workers would strip down to their bare skin to sunbathe (FKK or "Freier Korpor Kultur" the Germans call it). These newly-arrived young men needed an excuse to gawp and gasp at the sight of so much succulent white flesh, s they pretended to sell canned drinks. It was so weird hearing them jabber away excitedly in Tamil right in the heart of Munich!

Anonymous @ 12:55PM - If it makes you feel any better, a lot of women tell me they're put off by monster dicks. Nobody wants to be stretched out of shape unless they're professional pornstars who are accustomed to baseball bats shoved up their anuses. Even women whose vaginas get a bit stretched or ripped during childbirth usually get the tear stitched up. In short, bigger isn't always better - and, anyway, I've seen lots of American jocks - football players, no less - with stubby 3-inch dicks :-)

semuanya OK kot said...

Apart from liberating aspect, there is also the dark side: groupthink. You can convnce people of many things: that it's alrght to brawl in a pub, gang-rape, slaughter a particular race who are vermin, commit mass suicide, that more suff is better, etc.

Anonymous said...

Why are we men always so obsessed with big dick? Big is not necessary better. It's just like saying that a gardener who uses a big cangkul is better that one who usues a small one.


pinsysu said...

the greatest work yet to be accomplished by Spencer Tunick is to have fat mama & najis to pose naked for the shot of the century ...

tis a country where u cover ur heads but expose ur butts ... where it's not yet the rainy season but yet kataks aplenty ...

Old Fart said...

Wonder if he'd come over to Malaysia...We can show him the beauty of 1Malaysia...stripped! I'd be there up front!!

Should let Najib know of this new way to show case 1Malasyia. Rosmah might volunteer you know!!

Anonymous said...

Fat mama and Najib? Save me the blush pleaseeee. I want to puke just thinking about it.

Donplaypuks® said...

It may be good photography, but I can't see it as art.

I had a cousin who when doing a degree in film technology in USA, made sure all his projects involved desperate amateur actresses exposing their boobs and bodies.

Tunick may have a solver tongue, but that's all. He has mega talent to realise his voyeuristic mania! Sorry!

We are all of 1 race, the Human race

Anonymous said...

waahh..ramainya penyokong nudist di malaysia...kahkahkahkahkah...

Unknown said...

Brilliant post and even more brilliant comments! I would join but have to lose weight first lol!!! Anyway, this has given me added motivation for my battle of the bulge. :-)


Anonymous said...

Have you ever seen a giant COCK
crossing a road towards the KFC !?

Starmandala said...

Anon @ 4:03AM - Do you mean THIS GIANT COCK?