Spencer Tunick, The Ring (Ludwigstrasse, Munich), 2012. Art installation
Spencer Tunick is an installation artist and photographer whose medium is naked people: “I just create shapes and forms with human bodies. It’s an abstraction, it’s a performance, it’s an installation”. His nude mises en scene are taken in public settings of allover the world. Since 1994 he has shot over 75 human installations, in every continent (even Antartica), with over 100.000 nudes. He defines his works as nude installations on large-scale. In May 2007, he broke his personal record shooting over 18.000 naked people in Mexico city.
Spencer Tunick, Mardi Gras: The Base (Sydney Opera House), 2010. Art installation
Creating these still and video images of multiple nude figures, settled in public squares and thoroughfares, involves a titanic work. Usually he shoots during the early morning to make people feel more comfortable and to work with a softer light, with blue and grey shades. People are not selected by the artist on physical beauty criteria but they are all volunteers. After gathering his subjects together, Tunick grades them by gender, skin tone, long hair, age and other characteristics. Installations and photos are directed from on high to have an overall view. In the past, before recognizing his work as art, dates and locations were top secret and everything was top speed, so the shoot could be completed before the cops arrived and arrested Tunick for pornography.
Spencer Tunick, Netherlands 8 (Dream Amsterdam Foundation), 2007. C-print mounted between plexi. Edition of 20
Former Tate curator Simon Wilson, about his personal Spencer Tunick’s installation experience, says: “What was remarkable was the overall relaxation and sense of camaraderie that prevailed from the moment we became naked. Everyone seemed at home in their bodies whether svelte or lumpy, young or old; no one was making judgments about others; naked strangers chatted; and the few clothed people present became the odd ones out. We seemed indeed light years away from the anxious attitudes of society at large to the body and nudity.”
Spencer Tunick, NewcastleGateshead 9 (BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art), 2005. Vinyl mural
Tunick’s philosophy is that “individuals en masse, without their clothing, grouped together, metamorphose into a new shape. The bodies extend into and upon the landscape like a substance. These grouped masses which do not underscore sexuality become abstractions that challenge or reconfigure one’s views of nudity and privacy”. Removed of sexual implication or intention, the nude is reconfigured into the public space and reconfigures it, exploring and expanded the social perception and differences of naked body in public and private sphere. In Tunick’s work man and woman are returned to a preindustrial, pre-everything state of existence. The choice of location provides symbolic impact, and as the models become more numerous, the compositions become progressively more abstract, like a land work or an environmental work.
Spencer Tunick, Mexico City 4 (Zócalo, MUCA/UNAM), 2007. C-print mounted between plexi. Edition of 3
Since 1992, Tunick has been arrested five times while attempting to work outdoors in New York City. In 1999, he filed a Federal Civil Rights Law Suit against the city to protect himself and his participants from future arrests. In May 2000, the Second U.S. District Court sided with Tunick, recognizing that his work was protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and on June 3 the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Tunick by remanding the case. Four months later, Tunick applied for his first New York City permit after winning the case, and he was rejected. Tunick’s most notable works have been commissioned by Art Basel, Switzerland (1999), Institut Cultura, Barcelona (2003), XXV Biennial de Sao Paulo, Brazil (2002), The Saatchi Gallery (2003), MOCA Cleveland (2004), Vienna Kunsthalle (2008), among others.