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Prahran Woolworths says no thanks to Spencer Tunick's nudes

Ben Neutze

It was set to be the pièce de résistance of Spencer Tunick's mass nude photo shoots in Melbourne, but Woolworths has turned down the artist's request to hold a shoot on the rooftop of its Prahran store carpark.

Tunick is coming to Melbourne as part of the PROVOCARÉ Festival of the Arts and will be shooting masses of regular Melburnians in the nuddy in various places around Chapel Street between July 7 and 10. He was intending to do one photo on the Prahran Woolworths car park rooftop, which would capture a sea of nudes and the Melbourne skyline in the background, but Woolies says it would be too disruptive to weekend trading.

According to the Chapel Street Precinct Association (CSPA), the body behind PROVOCARÉ, the shoot was planned to be wrapped up before 9am on Saturday. The group says it has "photographic evidence" that shows only four cars in the car park at that time.

A Woolworths spokesperson said: "We recently upgraded the rooftop car park at our Prahran store to make it more accessible and comfortable and its primary purpose is so our customers have convenient access to available car parking close to our store."

"The request for the photo was for the weekend, which is the busiest time of the week for shopping in our stores, and as such we must ensure customers have convenient access to our store when we are open."

Spencer Tunick 'The Base', Sydney 2010

But that hasn't put off CSPA, which has joined with Tunick to petition Woolworths to allow the shoot to go ahead.

Since Tunik announced the Melbourne shoots in early May, more than 10,000 people have registered to bare all in the name of art. 

John Lotton from the CSPA said: "This diverse, largely adult local community has fully embraced this form of art. This is an over 18s-only art commission, and no children will be impacted due to the isolated and secured location of the installation.

"This photo will go viral, not only in Australia, but right around the world. This alone will help boost in-store sales. What's the downside for Woolworths? We can't see any."

Tunick has photographed nudes in some of the world's most recognisable locations. This is his first visit to Melbourne since 2001, when he photographed 4,500 nudes along St Kilda Road and the Yarra River. In 2010 he returned to Australia to create 'The Base', with more than 5,000 people posing on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Looking for an arts experience that's a little more modest? See our hit-list of the best art exhibitions this month.

And don't miss the NGV's hotly anticipated MoMA exhibition, which opens this weekend.

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