News / Art

Spencer Tunick photographs hundreds of naked Melburnians in Chapel Street

Spencer Tunick Return of the Nude shoot
Photograph: Cassidy Knowlton

Would you bare all in the name of art? Would you lie naked in a deserted carpark in single-digit weather, allowing an artist (and a substantial portion of Melbourne's media pack) to photograph you in the altogether? 

Some 12,000 Melburnians wanted to do just that, volunteering to freeze their tuchuses off for the sake of art as part of Spencer Tunick's new work, 'Return of the Nude'. Of the 12,000, about 500 were chosen to stand on the roof of Woolworths Prahran, draped in sheer red cloth. There might have been a few late dropouts, as there seemed to be in the vicinity of 250 red-draped figures shivering on the roof. 

Woolworths initially kyboshed the shoot, saying it would not allow its roof carpark to be used, but the supermarket giant eventually caved to public pressure. The shoot is part of Chapel Street's Provocaré festival, which includes art installations and live performance in venues around the shopping strip. 

Jane Louise, a 33-year-old live model and plus-sized model, says she jumped at the chance to be part of the action. "There tends to not be a lot of representation of bodies that look like mine, and I love art, so when I heard about this I thought, 'hells yeah, I'll do that!'" 

Scott Stringer flew down from Brisbane to take part in the event. "I've done one of Spencer's works before, in Sydney. I was excited to see he was coming back to Australia." Stringer is 42, and he says participating in the work was very empowering. "I think it's really important to do things like this as you get older." 

And don't you worry – they say it wasn't as cold as all that. "This material is polyester or something, it doesn't breathe," Louise says. "So it's not so bad." Stringer adds that the worst part was when the subjects shed their shrouds and lay down on the roof, baring all. "The concrete was a bit cold," he concedes. 

What's it like to get naked for art? This Time Out journo can tell you. And if you can't get enough, here are the best art exhibitions happening in July.

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