There are a million stories in the Naked City – this will certainly be one of them

American photographer and artist Spencer Tunick has big plans for the Story Bridge next year with a mass nude installation that will literally stop the traffic.

Nov 15, 2023, updated Nov 15, 2023

If you have ever had the urge to streak across the Story Bridge, you’re in luck. But you will have to wait until October 27 2024 to do it.

Even then, you won’t exactly be streaking. You will be posing, for Spencer Tunick, the acclaimed photographic artist who is world famous for his mass nude human installations.

He’s in Brisbane from New York this week preparing here for some photo shoots Saturday November 18 along the Brisbane River as part of Brisbane Powerhouse’s LGBTQI+ MELT festival. This project is known as TIDE and he describes what he has in mind as “a cross between a Rene Magritte artwork and a Terry Gilliam film” but won’t say too much more.

Brisbane Powerhouse program manager and TIDE curator Emmie Paranthoiene says Tunick’s installation will be “a nod to the true core of MELT Festival focusing on diversity and is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our stunning city”.

“Get ready to see Brisbane through a different lens,” she says. “We are bringing the bare and bold to Brisbane with Spencer’s visit and his incredible series of installations.”

But wait, there’s more, because while he is here, he is scoping out the Story Bridge ahead of his major event next year. This is more significant than you may think because Tunick is as world famous now as Christo was in his day and his shoots garner attention around the globe.

Tunick, 56, has done work all over the world, including several mass human installations in Australia at Bondi, the Sydney Opera House, two in Melbourne and one in the Whitsundays.

We reported on his current MELT Festival project recently but the Story Bridge project is new and will be part of the inaugural Melt OPEN next year, a new city-wide festival celebrating queer art and culture that builds upon the success of the current festival.

Shortly after his arrival I caught up with Spencer Tunick. We had coffee by the river at Brisbane Powerhouse. He had been up since 3am scoping locations but seemed chipper and happy to be here.

“This is like Venice,” he says looking out across the river as we sit down to chat. I think he’s over excited but I just nod agreeably.

First things first though – where is he shooting while he is here this time and will there be spectators?

“The weekend is all set but I don’t think there will be any onlookers,” Tunick says. “They don’t know where the locations are and they wouldn’t be able to get close anyway.” Intriguing. (The images created for the TIDE installation will be released early next year, in the lead in to the inaugural Melt OPEN, with more details to come. Each participant will also receive a copy of the image).

The cast of around 150 for the current shoot (partly planned by Tunick looking at Brisbane through the lens of Google Earth from the US) is set but he will need more people to volunteer for next year’s shoot, a lot more – 2500 people in fact, all of whom will have to completely disrobe for him on the deck of the Story Bridge which will be closed for the event. So pencil that in your diaries.

Spencer Tunick first became familiar with Brisbane when he stayed here on his way to his Whitsundays shoot. He spent a lot of time negotiating with Brisbane Airport to do a shoot there but for various reasons that couldn’t happen. Such is the life of a mass nude installation artist.

“That was heartbreaking but I found I really loved Brisbane,” he says. “Now I’m doing a two-year project here and that is a first for me. This one will start the relationship with the LGBTQI+ community here and build momentum for the larger artwork next year.

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“I love the Story Bridge. It’s an old school bridge and it reminds me of the skeleton of a whale, so people will enter the belly of this whale and they will be set free to a new beginning. I see things in a symbolic way and that’s what excites me.”

For his installations he has to brief participants with the aid of a megaphone.

“There was an article once where they said I was ‘barking orders’ but I have to be able to reach the people at the back,” he says.

Whilst here in Brisbane he is also scouting vintage stores for a present for his wife, Kristin Bowler, his sometime muse he describes as his “first choice and last resort”. She’s obviously a good sport having once posed nude for him in Antarctica.  As you do.

The couple, who live in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley and have two teenage children, are fans of vintage clothing and Tunick is on the hunt for good vintage stores while he is here, as if he hasn’t got enough to do already.

He’s trying to remember where he bought a cool jumpsuit for his wife last time he was here. In case anyone can help? In the meantime you can sign on for next year now.

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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