Thousands Strip For Nude Spencer Tunick Photo In Sydney, Australia
March 1, 2010. -
More than 5000 people have gathered in front of the Sydney Opera House to be photographed nude in the name of art and diversity today.
A pregnant woman was among the first group of Australians to take their place on the steps of the Opera House just after dawn in photographer Spencer Tunick's latest installation, Mardi Gras: The Base.
Mardi Gras festival executive producer Danielle Harvey said 5200 people, including sportspeople, doctors, teachers and retirees, had lined up to take part.
Thousands stripped for photographer Spencer Tunick at Sydney Opera House this morning. Photo: Nick Moir
"We were expecting 2000 or so ... we're absolutely thrilled," Ms Harvey said.
Tan lines were the most prominent feature of the Australian line up, which whooped and cheered its way onto the Opera House forecourt in lines in cool, cloudy conditions.
Student, Art Rush, 19, said he was thrilled to be among it.
"I'll never get a chance to do this again, it's not worth being inhibited," Rush said.
"It doesn't feel sexual, it just feels tribal - a gathering of humanity.
"I thought it would be all old people and nudists, but everyone here is great."
Advertising creative director Adam Sutherland, 46, said he hadn't decided whether to tell his employees, while nurse Nerida Grant, 27, said she wouldn't miss it for anything, saying: "I love (Tunick's) art work, it's fun."
English traveller Laura Higman roped in her partner Greg Patterson and friend Libby Morrish for the shoot.
"It was a really good experience," Ms Higman, 31, said.
"We weren't quite expecting the 'embrace' part but it was good.
"It's not every day you get to be naked on the steps of the Opera House".
Mr Patterson, from Lewisham, said he "loved getting naked" and the experience made him realise he only wore clothes "for comfort".
But the 28-year-old said he found his placement, at the very front of the pack, confronting.
Much of Mr Tunick's job during the hour-and-a-half shoot centred on crowd control.
The artist asked his subjects to pose with their hands by their sides, up high above their heads, and even asked all couples in the crowd to embrace, before moving everyone inside to pose in the theatre.
This is Mr Tunick's first shoot in Australia after visits to the United States, Brazil, France, England and Austria.
The artist said the title of today's installation, Mardi Gras: The Base, referred to the sameness of individuals, regardless of their sexual preferences.
"Gay men and women lay naked next to their straight neighbours and this delivered a very strong message to the world that Australians embrace a free and equal society," Mr Tunick said.
Mr Tunick said he was delighted to be able to assemble the installation at the base of "one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the world".
He said the crowd warmed up as the shoot progressed.
"It was difficult to get the straight people to embrace the gay participants ... I was happy we got it in the second set-up," Mr Tunick said.
The work was commissioned by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
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