Spencer Tunick announces his return to Sydney

The American artist who has made an international name for himself by inviting volunteers to undress en masse in public, returns to Australia.

Spencer Tunick’s next “nude installation,” commissioned by the Skin Check Champions charity to raise awareness of skin cancer and in conjunction with National Skin Cancer Action Week, will take place on November 26 at a Sydney beach.

It will be the fourth Australian project for Tunick, who has garnered global attention for his work at the Sydney Opera House with 5,000 naked Australians as part of gay and lesbian Mardi Gras. In 2018, the artist made headlines for battling with supermarket chain Woolworths to shoot her series on Chapel Street in Melbourne.

Related: How naked! Spencer Tunick’s meat photography

The beach that Tunick has selected for his next project has yet to be revealed, although given the artist’s penchant for historic places, Bondi would be a favorite. The exact location will be made known only a week before the day, to those who have registered online to participate in the work.

“I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but [the secrecy] it involves tradition, ”Tunick tells Guardian Australia, speaking from his New York studio.

“I have a little formula that works, that feels good. And in these days and times, a week’s notice is like a year ”.

In the dozens of massive public works he has completed – set on a glacier, in a theater, in the desert, in a train station – the bodies are sometimes painted, draped in transparent fabric or arranged according to skin tone.

Volunteers who register online are usually asked to rate their skin tone using a detailed color chart provided.

The artist says he has not yet decided which techniques he will employ next month.

“We have to wait and see what the details of the people who sign up are,” he says. “Let’s hope for a rainbow of people in Sydney.”

The goal is to photograph 2,500 people, symbolizing the number of Australian victims who are killed by skin cancer each year.

“So in order to get it, I need 5,000 people signed up, because only half of that amount will actually be shown. It is much easier to get excited in front of the computer screen than at four in the morning when the alarm goes off ”.

What Tunick sets out to achieve with his work has been the subject of much speculation over the past two decades.

Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones wrote that the titles generated by Tunick’s work contrast with the ancient practice he draws upon: naked bodies in art.

“He is doing what Renaissance artists did, except that instead of marble or oil paints he uses a camera, and instead of Michelangelo’s ideal types he uses people like you and me,” he wrote. “As long as we don’t all walk naked in public, the display of meat in a public place will still excite, excite, disturb.”

Related: Spencer Tunick’s naked ambition – in pictures

Tunick describes his work as partly installation, partly photography, partly performance art, partly land art and partly portraiture. He has collaborated with the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, the Albright-Knox Museum in the United States and The Lowry in Manchester. He has exhibited in major exhibitions including the São Paulo, Bodø and Moscow biennials – the latter with his lesser-known portrait photography – and has been the subject of three documentaries, including the HBO film Naked States, which chronicled the the artist’s trip to the United States, trying to photograph public nudes in all 50 states.

The artist also has his critics, invariably accusing him of populism and artifice.

“Tunick is not exactly an artist, more a stuntman with only one makeup,” wrote Australian David Brearley, after the artist appealed to Australians during the Covid blockade to get naked for his project. Stay Apart Together digital platform.

“His vision has just evolved in 25 years. Whatever point she is trying to make, she made it in the 20th century. Whatever the question you are asking, you have certainly been answered by now ”.

Participants pose for Tunick in the southeastern Israeli city of Arad in 2021. Photograph: Menahem Kahana / AFP / Getty Images

The artist shrugs off his criticisms.

“I do maybe one or two group jobs a year. I have other bodies of work. To say I’m a populist – well, I’m not as popular as you might think, ”she says. “I make less than a garbage man in New York.”

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