Monday, May 12, 2008

Hiding nudity in plain site

Hundreds strip naked in Vienna for artist.
I am sure most of you by now have heard of Spence Tunick. Since 1994 he has had thousands of people strip nude and pose in public in what he calls temporary installations. He describes his work as "...the individuals, en masse, without their clothing, grouped together metamorphose into a new shape. The bodies extend into and upon the landscape like a substance."
Originally I felt his work had an edge; he set up these daring shots with hundreds of volunteers, skirting the law and making these very interesting landscapes. But now, he is very celebrated and he is being granted access to pose his photos anywhere he likes and thousands of people want to be involved. What was once unique and different has been commercialized and almost trivialized.
I bring up Tunick's work because I find it interesting to see his work and hear how he explains it. I realized that his work is the polar opposite of what I am doing. When I photograph a nude person or group of people it is as much about them as individuals as it is about me the artist. Their own sexuality and, personality come into play, not sterilized or sanitized for your protection. In Tunick's work it is about him as an artist using the nude as a vehicle. The individual person is lost in a sea of bodies. And with these large groups of people, the nude actually disappears into this mass which becomes part of the landscape. Totally acceptable to be viewed on Good Morning America or some other tv news tabloid.
I will always give an artist credit for doing something different and inovative whether I like it as art or not, I just find it wild that Tuncik was actually able to make the nude common. Pity.

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