Spencer Tunick Photography Installation in Cleveland

Spencer Tunick Photography Installation in Cleveland

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I love to travel, and I love the performing arts, but the world is massive, 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 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 travelling 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.

Spencer Tunick photography installation in New York City's Grand Central Station This image is copyright of Spencer Tunick.
Spencer Tunick photography installation in New York City’s Grand Central Station This image is copyright of Spencer Tunick.

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 travelled in.

That day, a snowstorm 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 private winter shoot with Tunick gave way to the anonymity of being just one among the nearly 3,000 participants.

Spencer Tunick Art in Cleveland, Ohio. This image is copyright of Spencer Tunick.
Spencer Tunick Art in Cleveland, Ohio. This image is copyright of Spencer Tunick.

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 are contrasted with man’s creations. Which is real beauty?

About the Authors

Lance & Laura Longwell are two busy professionals who work to support their travel habits 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.

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Note from Alouise: While I was in New York City my friends and I stayed at the St Giles Hotel on the Upper West Side. It was a nice mid-range hotel and only a couple of blocks from Grand Central Station. Of course, there is no shortage of accommodation in New York City you can book here.

Have you ever been a part of an art exhibit?

19 thoughts on “Spencer Tunick Photography Installation in Cleveland”

  1. This was so interesting to get a perspective on Tunick’s work from actual participants. I appreciate the complexity and power of the public photos, but I have special admiration for Lance and Laura posing naked in a Cleveland winter storm. Brrrrrr….

  2. You can sign up to post on Spencer’s website 🙂

    The cool thing about participating in one of these (especially all women at Grand Central) was that everyone’s equal — you’re all standing there naked, so who’s going to judge anything? You see women who’ve had mastectomies, with all kinds of scars, of different weights, or just with general weird body hang-ups that they usually spend time trying to hide. But everyone’s there on a level playing field participating in something really cool.

  3. Laura – still don’t think I’d be brave enough to sign up, but it sounds like it was a pretty powerful and body positive experience.

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