News, art

Spencer Tunick’s Latest Project Met with Mixed Reactions

Amy Laviero :: Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 12:50 pm

During his latest photo-shoot, art photographer Spencer Tunick enlisted 5,200 volunteers to strip down in front of Sydney’s famed Opera House. The installation is the latest of over 100 Tunick has organized and was commissioned by Austrailia’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which began last Saturday and which is one of the world’s largest and most flamboyant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is being met with mixed reactions.

“Gay men and women lay naked next to their straight neighbors, and this delivered a very strong message to the world that Australians embrace a free and equal society,” Tunick asserts.

Perhaps the image is a bit obvious, but the installation still manages to convey a message of equality and solidarity that Gay and Lesbian activists still struggle to attain; a same-sex marriage bill was voted down in Australia’s Senate just last week. The photos are interesting, and although I’ll admit I wasn’t necessarily blown away by them, I’m still rather shocked by the scathing review written by Carola Long in which she states that “mass nudity is just a cheap – and slightly revolting – way to attract attention.” She goes on about how she finds it “utterly baffling why anyone would fall for [Tunick's] shtick,” and how she’s unsure why looking the same is a “good thing.” Long then proceeds to describe the “pleasures of [wearing] clothes,” which include ability to create individual style, and “differentiate yourself.”

One of the installation’s participants explained when everyone is naked, “you feel like you’re dressed because everybody looks the same,” which neatly defines the message at which Tunick was aiming and which is the point that Long seems to be missing. Despite asserting her understanding of Tunick’s latest project early in her argument, Long’s article only seems to portray her disgust with the human form and her consumerist attitude towards clothing.

The fact of the matter remains that, even though nudity has a long standing reputation as a shallow and gimmicky trick, Tunick’s work is still getting a good deal of publicity for the Gay and Lesbian community. Whether you or not you consider Tunick’s work art, and whether or not you feel its message was successfully conveyed doesn’t necessarily matter in the long run because it’s getting people to talk about the issue at hand. Plus, the event delivered a pretty interesting set of photos.

11 Responses to “Spencer Tunick’s Latest Project Met with Mixed Reactions”
  1. Personally I feel Carola Long’s response has less to do with what Tunick’s work does or doesn’t represent, but instead her having a very negative body image which is then placing on everyone else.

    Tunick’s work is like all art. It’s going to move some, it’s going to challenge others and for some it’s going to mean nothing at all… and that is what makes the world go round!

    Posted by: Michelle March 3rd, 2010 at 4:20 pm
  2. I couldn’t agree more. I feel like Long tries to avoid seeming self-conscious by bringing up Kate Moss’ photo-shoot and how even her “perfect” body was revolting. I just think it’s sad that she channeled her own neurosis in an article to degrade something that was trying to send an awesome message.

    Posted by: Amy Laviero March 3rd, 2010 at 4:31 pm
  3. I think Spencer Tunick is one of the most inspiring artists there is! i love how he takes the human body as a form of art and not just a sexual object. I think people like Carola Long could learn a thing or two from Tunick’s works and realise the positive message he’s actually sending. Like Michelle March said…”[art] is going to challenge you” and i think all of his work does exactly that and that’s what makes it so inspiring =) Great job!

    Posted by: Natalie Thomas March 3rd, 2010 at 8:49 pm
  4. i sent this message directly to Carola Long:
    i don’t think i have ever heard spencer talk about empowerment (but maybe he has).
    you will, however, have heard this line of thought from just about anyone who has ever participated in one of his installations (myself included).
    instead of talking about things you clearly know nothing of, ie the experience, why not read what these participants say about it on the various spencer tunick appreciation websites. these people are not, on the whole, exhibitionist nudists (though some may be); on the whole they come quite timid and go away with a real sense of elation and added self confidence.
    they also come away considerably less hung up about their bodies, and are very much the better for this.
    it would of course be silly to say to you “you should try it” as sometimes people are just too too hung up to have any hope in this department.
    i’m sorry for you

    Posted by: mike March 4th, 2010 at 12:25 am
  5. I participated in the Opera House installation. Tunick’s work expresses part of the essence of humanity in that while we are all the same without our clothing each one of us is also unique. Taking off our clothing stripped us of our individual status at the same time it revealed what makes us each individual. I think it’s a powerful message and participating in the installation was not only a learning experience but a lot of fun.

    Posted by: Phil March 4th, 2010 at 6:14 am
  6. Just google Carola Long and that says it all.

    Posted by: mond March 4th, 2010 at 6:45 am
  7. Mike/ Phil: Having never participated in one of Tunick’s installments I obviously couldn’t comment first hand on that aspect of his work, but your assessment sounds a lot like what other participants have described.

    Mike, I’m glad you sent her that. You didn’t happen to hear back did you?

    Posted by: Amy Laviero March 4th, 2010 at 12:28 pm
  8. I didn’t read Ms. Long’s review because I couldn’t care less who she is or what she thinks about Spencer Tunick & his work. However, for the sake of chiming in and since there may be other who share her misconceptions and because I appreciate what Mr. Tunick does, I must point out that Ms. Long’s statements quoted here are simply laughable. She sounds very ignorant.

    Literally tens of thousands of people over the last decade have willingly participated in Mr. Tunick’s photography and many, many people of all sorts and backgrounds, etc appreciate and laud his work. She also doesn’t seem to grasp the point/premise of his art which doesn’t really have very much to do with nudity in the first place. His work could be called a lot of things - maybe therapeutic even - but it’s fundamentally and quite literally not what mainstream, even conservative people would consider licentious, provocative, indecent, etc.

    Moreover, if she wants to make it about nudity - mass or individual - then she has to accept that she’s also criticizing the work of dozens, if not hundreds, of world-renowned artists throughout the centuries that employed nudes in their photography, paintings and sculptures. Does she also believe that those world famous artists were simply trying to “attract attention” and fool the masses with “schtick.”

    Sorry Ms Long - but please first look up the definition of art…then visit the Louvre…then do some research about Spencer Tunick and perhaps interview some of the participants in his installations over the years (or try one yourself). Then if you still feel the same way about his art, that’s perfectly fine - that’s what is so great about art - there’s plenty to go around for everyone’s preferences.

    Just please don’t make us suffer your reviews (or quotes of your reviews) unless you’ve got something intriguing and well-informed to say.

    Posted by: MDBC March 4th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
  9. Carola Long obviously wasn’t there!!!! Such FUN… She needs to get a LIFE and LIVE.

    Posted by: Peter Leslie March 4th, 2010 at 11:55 pm
  10. no i didn’t hear back! not yet anyway. and by now I doubt she’s reading this series of comments. so she will remain ignorant.

    Posted by: mike March 6th, 2010 at 12:08 am
  11. Indeed. At least you experienced something amazing!

    Posted by: Amy Laviero March 6th, 2010 at 11:42 pm