Creating a naked world is something New York-based photographer Spencer Tunick has been doing for over twenty years. Calling upon hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers, Tunick has each subject disrobe for the purpose of photographing them in a public space. The aim of this en masse endeavor is to create an architecture of flesh—using human bodies as part of the urban landscape.
Naked World Everywhere
To his credit, Tunick has created more than 90 installations at landmarks and cities including the Sydney Opera House, Place des Arts in Montreal, Mexico City, Ernest Happel Stadium in Vienna and Munich, Germany. This year, Tunick plans to create “Everything She Says Means Everything” installation in Cleveland. 100 naked women will stand facing the Quicken Loan Arena holding large, round mirrors to communicate that we are a reflection of ourselves and the world surrounding us.
Seeing is Believing
Tunick explores the social perception the naked body expresses. By removing the external covering of clothes, we can clearly see the beauty in everyone’s natural differences. That, mixed with urban structures allows us to see how nude bodies interact and converse within public spaces. In fact, Tunick’s work is so influential that Lady Gaga wrote her NYU undergraduate thesis arguing, “Tunick challenges traditional ideas of intimacy, and asks us to free the body of sexuality and view it aesthetically for the purpose of his art.”
Finding subjects is easy for the now famous photographer. For his upcoming July installation, Tunick’s open call for models resulted in thousands of entries. Because everyone is naked, he sees his installations as an opportunity for those too modest to pose nude to overcome their inhibitions. During a typical shoot, the models are usually naked for no more than 15 minutes. The reward is two-fold for the models. They take part in a historical moment and get a signed print as payment.
To some, Tunick’s work is beautifully mesmerizing. But others aren’t so appreciative. Tunick has been arrested a total of five times while attempting to create his naked world in New York City. One instance was when the privately-owned Grand Central Station closed for several hours to host him and 400 naked women. Angry and tired of the “stunts,” then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani threw the book at him for outraging public decency. The case against Tunick eventually went to the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of Tunick.
“I ran into [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg at a museum and I thanked her,” Tunick says. “She said, ‘Just don’t do it on the steps of the Supreme Court.'”
To see more of Spencer Tunick’s Naked World, visit his site here.