All in the name of art- Spencer Tunick rocks the Opera House
I remember watching a documentary about Spencer Tunick years ago and being utterly amazed. An unknown artist at the time, he convinced hundreds of people to get completely naked in public, all in the name of art. I always said if he made it to Sydney I’d get involved, perhaps quietly confident he’d never make it down under.
On Monday 1st March I ate my words and joined 5200 people at the Sydney Opera House to get naked and pose for Spencer Tunicks latest installation ‘The Base’.
Having registered weeks in advance I tried to avoid thinking about the technicality of the shoot (being nude) and rather what an amazing, once in a life time experience this would be. As the day grew closer my nerves increased and the reality of exposing all my glory in front of thousands of people was becoming more apparent.
I asked almost everyone I knew to do it with me and was met with varying reactions and excuses but none dare to bare. Finally after weeks of pleading my friend finally agreed, she even managed to convince one of her girlfriends to join us.
Sunday night before the event I set my alarm for 3am to make the 4am registration. I can’t remember the last time I saw 3am sober and it’s not something I’m keen to do again.
At 5am it was still dark and as we sat huddled on the grass waiting for the sun to rise the thought of getting nude wasn’t too scary. An hour later the sun was up, it was completely light, I could see everyone around me very clearly and the nerves kicked in.
An announcement came on over the megaphone “ok everyone it’s time to get naked, please take off all your clothes, jewelry, piercings. If you weren’t born with it, take it off, everything except for tattoos”.
People started ripping their clothes off and I started nervously peeling away the layers.
It was a cold morning, no doubt more challenging for the men than us girls. Looking around as we walked to the bottom of the Opera House my first impression was just how surreal it looked. Thousands of naked people, short, fat, tall, skinny, very old people with grey hair, very young people with no hair, so diverse yet so similar.
Supported by the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras there were a lot of couples, same sex and straight. People had crazy tattoos and obscure piercings. We saw strange tan lines, stark white skin, a pregnant woman and woman with a baby in her arms. There were women who had fake breasts and there were women who’d had mastectomy’s and were missing breasts.
Spencer Tunick shot a few different positions but the most intimate was ‘the embrace’ which involved hugging or kissing your partner, friend or the random next to you. Both of my friends have boyfriends and instantly clung together. If you didn’t have a partner you needed to get out of the photo.
Next to me was an older man in his early 40’s, gay or straight, I’m not sure and who cares! He was a complete stranger and I hugged him naked.
It was cold and I could feel my nipples rub against the man’s bare chest. Our cheeks pressed against each other we held the position for about 15 minutes (which is a long time when you’re hugging a stranger nude). It was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had and surprisingly after the initial awkwardness it was actually really nice (warm at least).
After ‘the embrace’ Spencer Tunick announced we were finished and everyone ran for their clothes.
I put my suit on and walked to work just like any other day. The only difference was, I had been naked in front of 5200 people, stepped outside of my comfort zone and challenged myself more than ever before, all before 8am. If I can do that I can do just about anything.
For more information on the Spencer Tunick visit http://www.spencertunick.com/