Spencer Tunick's Latest Nude Artwork Causes Splash In QLD Hotspot
More than 100 people showed up to pose naked in the Whitsundays in Queensland for photographer Spencer Tunick, who praised Aussies for being body positive.
He's spent more than 25 years photographing naked people around the world but there's something about Australians that keeps Spencer Tunick returning to make some of his most memorable human installations.
"Australians are much more body positive and more open than most other countries," Tunick told AAP.
"Australians have the ability to go beyond their limits, to try new things, and to trust people."
For his latest work, Sea Earth Change sponsored by The Iconic, more than 100 participants travelled to Queensland's Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays to participate.
Some had flown inter-state while one woman hailed from Seattle in Washington, USA. She'd previously posed for Tunick in Norway and remarked how much nicer it was to be naked in the heat.
For nearly five hours and across two island locations near Whitehaven Beach's famous turquoise shores, the US-based photographer stood atop ladders in the sand.
Through a megaphone, he commanded the naked bodies aged from 18 to 72 into several different poses.
For one image he asked people to hold hands, another they were hugging in pairs. His favourite pose reminded him of prehistoric birds about to take flight, the models crouched down in the sand, hands outstretched on either side.
"I don't see individuals, I didn't see you in there either. I just see bodies," Tunick assured me after I was fully dressed and back on the boat.
Following his fourth shoot Down Under, Tunick said he sensed Aussies had a "real heartfelt understanding of how important the body is in art".
Since 1994 Tunick has worked alongside a tight-knit team to orchestrate more than 100 site-related human installations from Chile to New York City.
In 2001, his biggest work at the time was shot in Melbourne, with about 4500 people taking part. Then in 2010, more than 5000 people turned up to get naked at the Sydney Opera House.
The anonymity of being nude en masse is part of the appeal for some while others appreciate the communal aspect of creating such a large picture together.
"There is an equalising factor in people coming together undressed," Tunick said.
"I think you lose yourself within that because there are no mirrors; you are just looking out to other shapes and sizes."
Being part of such a large communal project was what drew 54-year-old Kerri Bauer from her hometown in Colac, Victoria, booking her flights and accommodation well before she had been accepted to pose.
"I wanted to be part of something bigger than me and to also be a role model for my daughter," Bauer told AAP.
"I think it's important to pursue interests outside of our comfort zones and to challenge yourself no matter what others think or how you may be judged," she said.
Unlike shooting in cities, where Tunick has been arrested five times, whisking his participants away to a remote island gave him the luxury of time and the models a little more privacy.
But for Lucy Wallace, her experience felt a lot closer to home, with her father registering his interest without either of them knowing at the time.
"After signing up, I sent the link out to five different friends and as I was sending that out, my dad also sent me the link and I thought, that's weird, I definitely didn't mean to send it to him," Wallace told AAP.
"He said look what I just applied for, and then he sent me a message last Friday saying he got in and I was like, oh, me too."
Tunick first visited the Whitsundays in 2001 while driving from Melbourne to Cairns with his now-wife, falling hard for the pristine environment and impossibly white sand.
This love of the natural environment has played an integral role in many of his works, as he believes performance art helps spread climate change awareness.
"Anything visual that can stop people in their steps and make them think about the ramifications of not caring for the environment, I think, is an important artwork," he said.
"It sets the tone for letting them question why people are going to such an extent to make art or do an activist event for the climate.
"Why aren't they just tweeting, or why are't they just posting... it's not enough, you have to get out and hit the streets and make things."