Nudes and the City


I have seen some of the photographs taken by Spencer Tunick, but I didn’t analyze or think of them much. They are simply a lot of naked people in different locations, particularly in cityscapes. Recently, I managed to go through his work very carefully with the inspiration came through a video watched about his work.

Spencer is not a nudist. His is a photographer! His work is simple and way he works too is very simple. His expressions are to blend locations with people.. people in the sense, people is a raw manner. Not decorated with clothes or anything, people as they are. It is a superb expressionism. I guess human body is one of the most powerful icons we used since visual art is born. His photos show the contrast in between human body and man-made structures of a city. In a way, it is a representation of nature and materialized and commoditized world.

Spencer started working in his art with very simple theories. What I like most was he didn’t use models or any selected beautiful men and women. He simply used volunteers who would like to take part in his art. He did his exercise in most of the big cities in the world and all the states of US. Number of people participate in the photo shoot is not predetermined; it is the number who accept his invitation. In a way, entire photo becomes a team work and work created according to the physical and social atmosphere. That creates amazing new dimension of getting photographs of human beings in modern civilization.

Before he became popular, Spencer does a self assignment to take that kind of photos in each state in US. What he simply did was, he got all the gear in to a van and traveled to different states with a couple of companions including his girlfriend. When he reaches a town, if he felt like taking a photograph, he simply walked through the roads and invited people he met to participate for his photo shoot. Of course, you can’t even think of such thing in Asia; it was not easy in USA either! He was virtually inviting everybody he meets; Young crowd, old people, pregnant women, fat people, slim people, black people, white people and everybody in this society. He simply doesn’t know how many people would like to participate anyway. Photo shoot is done with the available people. He doesn’t usually have any hard and fast rule to direct them. His simple guides along with background cityscapes make a wonderful photograph.

As I understand, Spencer is using the nudity for his work in very weightless manner. He is not talking or promoting nudism or any sexual agenda. He is an artist; strangely, see the beauty and way of expressing his ideas using naked human body. Not glamour or fashion in it. Just like Chandraguptha Thenuwara wanted to use Barrels (Barrelism) to express his arguments about military influenced society of Sri Lanka in the war time, Spencer’s trump used to express his idea is nudity along with cityscapes. He used more realistic raw materials than a fashion photographer who uses the body of trained beautiful men and women. While fashion photographer recreates the fantastic product together with fashion designer and model, Spencer “let it happen” in front of his camera lens. Theoretically, Product is influenced by the life experiences of men and women participate in it along with the view of the city. If there are a few people in the photo that means others have rejected to be in the photo, which also reveals something, since it is defined within the location. Nude body of an ordinary person who lives in the current society becomes the most powerful proof of that society than a model whose body is professionally maintained.

Don’t you think your body is the best living proof of your life… that carries all the good and bad times of your life? ...that reflects the tears and smiles of the story of your life? ..that archives everything happened since you were born? Spencer Tunick, as a photographer, carefully collects them into his photos.

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