Spencer Tunick loves to put on a show, preferably one with lots of naked bodies. Location (public) is essential, although he can no longer shoot in the USA. Because of the nature of his work which explores and expands the social, political and legal issues surrounding art in the public sphere, Tunick has been arrested five times while attempting to work outdoors in New York City.
Soon after his fifth arrest in Times Square in 1999,” determined to create his work on the streets of New York, the artist filed a Federal Civil Rights Law Suit against the city to protect himself and his participants from future arrests. In May 2000, the Second U.S. District Court sided with Tunick, recognizing that his work was protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On June 3 of the same year, in response to the city’s final appeal made to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the court at large, the U.S. Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Tunick by remanding the case, allowing the lower court decision to stand and the artist to freely organize his work on New York City streets. Four months later, Tunick applied for his first New York City permit after winning the case, and he was rejected.”
After the fact, Tunick decided he would no longer shoot here, and has been all over the world creating his images. They are not images one recognizes at first glance, they require thought and concentration. His use of composition and color add layers to the socio-political implications ; arresting, interesting work emerges.
His work has taken him to countries such as Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Mexico and Australia, in fact, in Mexico he broke his previous record of attendance ; over 18,000 naked people showed up at The ZÃ³calo in Mexico City. Now over to the Middle East, his first project there, where over 1,000 Israelis posed nude on the shores of the Dead Sea—( image below) a member of the Israeli parliament submitted a bill that would mandate one-year prison terms for anyone who gets naked in public for commercial or artistic purposes. It has been dubbed the “Spencer Tunick bill.” The politician who lead the charge was MK Nissim Zeev, an ultra-Orthodox leader who called the shoot “a act of prostitution in the guise of art.” (This is the same politician who said that gay people must be made aware of “how their lifestyle is destroying our existence.”) Seems that Zeev missed the point, this project actually was part of a bid to boost Israel’s campaign to have the Dead Sea recognised as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. Experts warn that the Dead Sea could dry out by 2050 unless urgent steps are taken to halt its demise.
Regardless of one’s moral compass, the beauty of these images is arresting. His love for the human form is obvious and his passion for using his art form as a platform for social change is commendable. After all, what are we if not voices, load and clear, for what we believe in?? It seem to me that this artist is about his truth and in this day and age, bravery is certainly a big component of doing this. Tunick’s most notable works have been commissioned by the Art Basel, Switzerland , Institut Cultura, Barcelona , XXV Biennial de Sao Paulo, Brazil , The SaatchiGallery, MOCA Cleveland , Vienna Kunsthalle , among others.
watch some of the video below: