arts and design

Spencer Tunick: Woolworths relents and allows mass nude photo on car park

A US artist best known for his large-scale nude photo shoots says he is relieved that the Australian supermarket chain Woolworths will now allow him to use one of its rooftop car parks for his next project, because the layout of Melbourne’s tramlines meant there was “no plan B”.

Spencer Tunick is travelling to Australia in July where he will take part in Melbourne’s Provocare Festival of the Arts. He had been commissioned by the festival to do a work within the precinct of Chapel Street, a main street known for upmarket fashion stores and restaurants, and which runs through the south-east suburbs of South Yarra, Prahran and Windsor.

Tunick’s plan to photograph about 350 naked people on the rooftop carpark of Woolworths in Prahran was temporarily thwarted after the supermarket declined him access. The number of people involved means that Tunick will also need to get up high to take the photograph and capture the scene.

“I tried for three full days to scour the Chapel Street district and I couldn’t find any place large enough to fit so many people, and all of the trolley [tram] wires meant there was no other place safe enough to use,” he told Guardian Australia on Sunday.

“I’m very happy and lucky that Woolworths is now allowing me to go ahead with this art event for the people of Melbourne, because there was no plan B.”

He said the supermarket came around to the idea after a less busy day of the week was proposed.

In a statement a Woolworths spokesperson said Tunick would have access to the car park for one hour on a Monday morning. It followed an online petition protesting against the supermarket’s original decision.

“It’s a good outcome that will allow Spencer Tunick to profile the Chapel Street precinct on the world stage without compromising the ability of our customers to access the store, in an easy and convenient manner,” the spokesperson said.

Tunick said an hour would be plenty of time.

“You know, an hour is a long time for people to be naked in cold weather,” he said. “Some of my best works in New York were made in under 15 minutes and with the threat of arrest.”

About 11,000 people have registered to take part in the shoot. Successful applicants will be notified. Tunick said he did not want to give too much away about what he planned to do with participants on the rooftop.

“We are now still waiting for confirmation on other aspects of the art installation but those aspects don’t require permissions,” he said.

The shoot will take place on 9 July.


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