( Excerpted from Yahoo news): – More than 18,000 people stripped down and bared it all in Mexico City’s vast main square Sunday for U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick’s biggest nude shoot yet.
Standing up to salute, crouching in fetal positions and lying prone on the tiles of the Zocalo plaza, the volunteers formed a sea of flesh that Tunick snapped from balconies and a small crane in the morning light.
“What a moment for the Mexican art scene!” Tunick said in a news conference. “I think all eyes are looking south from the United Sates to Mexico City to see how a country can be free and treat the naked body as art. Not as pornography or as a crime, but with happiness and caring.”
The Brooklyn, N.Y., artist has become famous for photographing thousands of naked people in public settings worldwide, from London and Vienna to Buenos Aires and Buffalo.
“I just create shapes and forms with human bodies. It’s an abstraction, it’s a performance, it’s an installation,” Tunick said. “So I don’t care how many people showed up. All I know is that I filled up my space.”
Men and women from a broad cross section of ages and social classes began arriving before dawn, although most volunteers were young men.
For Tunick’s first photo, the models stood upright and gave a military-like salute to their national flag. In another, they lay down to form a blanket of flesh around a naked man in a wheelchair. Between shots, they burst out into verses of Mexican folk songs such as “Cielito Lindo.”
The human body has long been a favorite subject of artists and photographers and definitely there is skill involved in depicting a nude. But where is the art in assembling thousands of nude people in a public space and snapping pictures of them ? What skill did Tunick demonstrate in photographing this event ?Perhaps I’m a philistine when it comes to art appreciation but this kind of art/performance art/ conceptual art / whatever leaves me cold. I feel the same way about Christo’s creations. Remember Christo?… the ” environmental installation artist” with the penchant for wrapping buildings ( the Reichstag in Berlin was one ) and installing miles of cloth ( the 24 mile Running Fence in Marin& Sonoma Counties, the Gates in New York’s Central Park). Sometimes I wonder if it is all a giant hoax: other times I wonder if I’m part of the minority that just doesn’t get it.
There is an old story about John Lennon attending an art exhibition and meeting up with a Japanese woman, a ” conceptual artist”. ” What is conceptual art?” he wondered. She volunteered to show him and gave him a hammer and nail, both imaginary. Then she instructed him to use the imaginary hammer to pound the imaginary nail into a nearby wooden desk He did so whereupon she asked him for $5, the cost of her conceptual art. “Sure”, he said . He pulled out an imaginary wallet and gave her an imaginary fiver !! She departed in a huff but that is not the end of the story. That Japanese woman was Yoko Ono and Lennon later married her.
To get back to the Yahoo story, I was surprised to read that “Public nudity is hardly a novelty in Mexico City, where protesters often march through the streets wearing only their underwear or nothing at all.” I think we Americans are far less likely to participate in such exhibitions.