Architecture Of Flesh

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Volunteer participants pose naked inside the Stadschouwburg theatre in Belgium during a photo session with Spencer Tunick in the northern Belgian city of Bruges. (Reuters/Peter Maenhoudt)

“Individuals en masse, without their clothing, grouped together, metamorphose into a new shape.” (– Spencer Tunick)

For 20 years now, New York-based photographer Spencer Tunick has been creating human art installations all over the world, calling together volunteers by the hundreds or thousands. He asks them to remove their clothes, in order to photograph them in massive groups. And they do.

His aim is an architecture of flesh where a great number of human bodies blends with the landscape, or juxtaposes with urban structures.

Warning:  Since the nudity is central to Tunick’s art, the following photos are not screened out all depict naked human bodies.

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Naked volunteers pose for the US photographer Spencer Tunick on the largest glacier in the Alps, Aletsch glacier, in Switzerland, as part of an environmental campaign about global warming near the mountain resort of Bettmeralp, on August 18, 2007. The campaign was organized by Greenpeace and aimed at drawing attention to melting Alpine glaciers. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Although Spencer Tunick admits he is not the best photographer in the world, his monumental pictures made him famous and easily recognized around the world.

Naked volunteers pose for Spencer Tunick in the Europarking building in Amsterdam, on June 3, 2007. (Reuters/Koen van Weel)

Naked volunteers pose for Spencer Tunick in the Europarking building in Amsterdam, on June 3, 2007. (Reuters/Koen van Weel)

This year, Tunick’s exhibition «Safety in Numbers» came to Moscow to stay through January 2015.

Naked volunteers, numbering around 1700 people, pose for U.S. artist Spencer Tunick in downtown Munich, on June 23, 2012. (Reuters/Michaela Rehle)

Naked volunteers, numbering around 1700 people, pose for U.S. artist Spencer Tunick in downtown Munich, on June 23, 2012. (Reuters/Michaela Rehle)

Muscovites won’t see all the images appearing in this post. The exhibit is small (10 photographs and 2 videos), free and controversial. Opinions vary from “Thousand naked asses? And this is art?” and “WTF!” to glowing laudation, more in tune with the critical acclaim  Tunick’s art and his creative process enjoys around the world.

Naked women on bicycles pose on a bridge during a massive photo session with Spencer Tunick in Amsterdam, on June 3, 2007

Naked women on bicycles pose on a bridge during a massive photo session with Spencer Tunick in Amsterdam, on June 3, 2007

” […] a large number of naked, defenseless people reflects the place of modern man in the modern world. Miserable Homo Sapiens, freezing, weeping, his nakedness in full view, feels very lonely, very stressed and very vulnerable. On the other hand, surrounded by creatures such as himself, lost in their numbers, he ceases to be a meaningful unit. 

“Not very optimistic in essence, Spencer Tunick’s ideas are embodied in bright, colorful, impeccably beautiful photographs of enormous proportions.

“[…] Leaving the exhibit, one is overcome by dual feelings: afterglow one feels having embraced beauty and, at the same time, discomfort, perhaps, for the state of affairs that is the object of his art.” (Snatches of a review,  imprecisely translated from Russian.) 

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Personally, what amazes me most in Mr. Tunick’s creative process, is how he managed, time after time, to entice tens of hundreds people in different countries to come together, strip naked en masse and be directed to strike poses for a photographer, however talented and for however progressive ideas… Would you volunteer?

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2 comments on “Architecture Of Flesh

  1. Reblogged this on My OBT and commented:
    A bonus OBT (One Beautiful Thing) today:
    This is a post by Contra Spem Spero… Et Rideo (Latin for “Hope against hope . . . and smile”) very appropriately entitled “Architecture of Flesh.” It’s a very well-written article, and I’m fascinated by these images. I would absolutely volunteer if I was certain I wouldn’t 1. run into anyone I know and 2. be identifiable. Would you?

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