I love travel and performing arts, but the world is large and there are a lot of performing arts events out there. It would be impossible to see them all, so I am delighted to share the following guest post contribution from Lance and Laura of Travel Addicts about being part of a Spencer Tunick Photography Installation in Cleveland. The first two images in this post are copyright of Spencer Tunick.
Imagine traveling to a city for the sole purpose of taking off your clothes and letting a man take pictures of you in the name of public performance art. We’ve done this twice and would do it again in an instant.
Spencer Tunick photographs naked people in public places. His work has been the subject of three HBO documentary films: Naked States, Naked World and Positively Naked. He has been written about in thousands of publications. Like many artists, his work has also been the subject of controversy and lawsuits.
In October 2003, we were living in New York City and Laura was able to participate in one of Tunick’s most famous installations. After years of being persecuted by Mayor Giuliani, NYC elected Mayor Bloomberg, a supporter of the arts. Bloomberg granted Tunick a permit to do an all-female installation inside Grand Central Station. The images of that shoot capture stoic female forms in a place normally populated by busy business executives in suits rushing to their offices. Laura loved her experience and was completely energized by participating in the work.
When we learned that Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art would host a solo exhibit of Tunick’s work in 2004, we wanted to go. To coincide with the exhibit the museum would commission a shoot and we were absolutely committed to participating. However, the folks in Cleveland didn’t realize that the shoot in the middle of winter was a bad idea. Ultimately, the museum held the exhibit during the winter and would postpone the installation to the summer, but not before we had made arrangements to travel to Cleveland. MOCA and Spencer Tunick were gracious and agreed to do a shoot for us since we’d traveled in.
That day, a snow storm hit Cleveland. So by the time of the shoot late that evening, six inches of snow had accumulated. Still, we wanted to do this. Tunick took us out in the snow (naked) and took two photos of us together in the bleak snowstorm in a deserted part of the city. We had just gotten engaged a few months before, so his images essentially became our engagement photos.
Six months later (June 2004), we were back in Cleveland with thousands of others for a shoot in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building along the Ninth Street Pier. The intimacy of our winter private shoot with Tunick gave way to the anonymity of being just one among the nearly 3,000 participants.
It’s easy to mistake Tunick’s work for nothing other than general nudism, but such narrow interpretations don’t fully embrace the complexity of his creations. Spencer Tunick creates a tapestry with human skin, but his work is about much more than nudism. The softness and fragility of the naked human form is contrasted with man’s creations. Which is the real beauty?
About the authors: Lance & Laura Longwell are two busy professionals who work to support their travel habit and write about their experiences on Travel Addicts. Since 2008, they have been showing people how to maximize their limited vacation time to see the world.