Bottoms up: Brisbane to bare all for world famous artist Spencer Tunick

He’s put places on the international art map with his mass nude installations and Spencer Tunick will soon be here in Brisbane doing the same thing – by the Brisbane River

Sep 26, 2023, updated Sep 26, 2023

A man is sitting in front of a computer in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley studying Brisbane via Google Maps. He’s planning something big but, not to worry, he will come in peace. As he has done before.

That man is Spencer Tunick, the American photographer and artist famous for organizing large-scale nude shoots, installations, happenings, whatever you want to call them.

The scale he works on and the fame that attends him reminds one of the late great Christo, the artist who famously wrapped buildings and landscapes. Spencer Tunick doesn’t mind the comparison at all. He works on a similar scale with people … nude people and he has done this all over the world and in Australia before. And here’s the really exciting new … he will soon be doing it in Brisbane.

By the river. Which is why the yet-to-be created work will be called TIDE. It will be an exciting addition to this year’s MELT Festival, an annual celebration of queer art, artists, allies and ideas at Brisbane Powerhouse. MELT boasts a vibrant and eclectic program featuring ground-breaking home-grown music artists alongside international sensations, provocative and hilarious theatre, exhibitions showcasing visual arts and photography and more.

It’s on at Brisbane Powerhouse from November 11 to 26 and to have Spencer Tunick in Brisbane creating a work that will get global attention is huge.

Already I can see people putting their hands up to get involved and it would be a good idea to jump in right now to do that. More about that later.

So where exactly will TIDE be located? Where will this happening happen?

I got the man himself on the line from the US to ask him that but he was a bit cagey about that.

“I can’t say exactly,” Tunick says. “But I can say that the work will take place along the Brisbane River at different locations. I have been using Google Maps to do a lot of my scouting.”

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.

“This will be my sixth in Australia,” he says. “I seem to have a second life there. I have wanted to work in Brisbane for a while and there was a very enthusiastic push for me to do a group nude on the new airport runway there. We were planning that but it didn’t happen in the end. It would have been amazing to form a human airplane. That got me engaged with Brisbane. Whenever I am turned down, I am so happy when the opportunity arises again.”

Brisbane Powerhouse program manager and TIDE curator Emmie Paranthoiene says Tunick’s forthcoming installation would 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.”

I should have seen this coming actually and it makes sense. It’s just the sort of thing Brisbane Powerhouse artistic director and CEO Kate Gould would go for. After all she was involved for many years in Dark Mofo in Hobart which is famous for its mass nude Solstice swim. I even suggested to Kate Gould that they do a mass nude swim here and now I understand why that suggestion induced a wry smile.

Okay they probably won’t be swimming but Spencer Tunick will be creating a mass nude installation or even a few. The format and locations are unclear. I guess he wants to surprise us.

He has been here before scoping out the airport and the city.

“And I did check out some of your thrift shops for my wife Kristin. (The couple have two children, one in high school and one in college)

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“I did take some photos while I was there,” he says.  And that’s all good background.

Tunick began documenting live nudes in public locations in New York through video and photographs in 1992. Early nudes were singular or small groups but his practice grew and grew.

It all started in childhood, as things tend to do.

“My mother would take me to The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York,” he recalls. “The first nude I ever saw was a 1910 painting by Henri Rousseau entitled The Dream. It’s a nude woman reclining in forest. I was moved by that.”

Since then, his nudes have just got bigger and bigger. He uses bodies to extend into and upon the landscape like a substance. These group masses, which do not underscore sexuality, often become abstractions that challenge or reconfigure views of nudity and privacy. The work also refers to the complex issue of presenting art in permanent or temporary art spaces.

It’s unclear exactly how many people will be involved in Brisbane but it will be hundreds. If you feel the urge to be part of this international art happening just go online and register. Because Spencer Tunick needs you.

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


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