The Spencer Tunick Photos Do Not Impress
Dan Renzi is an arts and entertainment writer for the New Times newspapers. Dan was a participant in several MTV programs, including “The Real World” reality series, and he has hosted various specials for the network.
Once upon a time, Spencer Tunick photographs were daring, edgy, poetic. The juxtaposition of hordes of nude bodies, as they are posed in the middle of streets, on bridges, in rocky gorges of mountains, it made a statement. Whatever that statement was depended on who you asked, but they evoked some sort of reaction. That’s the essence “art,” right?
When Tunick announced a photo shoot in Miami Beach, my friends and I jumped at the chance to participate as his models. The photo shoot itself was stressful, with Spencer and his minions shouting at us while we were standing around naked, directing us like cattle; but sometimes making art is a stressful experience. So when he held the unveiling of his art at the Sagamore Hotel on Monday night, my friends and I arrived at the party excited to see the images. And when we rushed up to the display, we saw…some pictures of a hotel, with some naked people standing around.
We Were Extremely Underwhelmed
Maybe it was because the photos weren’t very interesting. Maybe it was because we were expecting too much. Maybe it was because there were so many photos in the newspapers and on the internet already, there was no surprise; and that’s a shame, since all those photos were invited by Tunick himself, perhaps causing him to ruin his own project.
Pictured above is one of the photos, which is of three taken at this location; I am in the right-side image of set, which is out of frame, but can be seen here. The photo didn’t catch anything good—the guard rail was coincidentally level with my danger zone. It wasn’t planned that way; we were actually standing on rickety plastic chairs, to bring us higher above the railing. So any nervousness about being naked in public was squelched by the terror of falling over the balcony and plummeting to your death. Nevertheless—the view would have been much different if the chairs were juuuuust a little higher. Although when I say “a little” higher, I don’t mean my…is…you know what I mean.
Did Spencer Sell His Soul For Celebrity?
The shoot in Miami Beach marked a turning point on several levels for Mr. Tunick. First, it was his first time in Miami, a city that worships all things celebrity. And it is perhaps not a coincidence he chose this location for his largest public relations barrage to date, getting himself on the morning talk shows and in the newspapers even before the photos were taken. The art isn’t the final product; it’s Spencer Tunick, media conglomerate, with his hordes of PR assistants more interested in creating a buzz about himself than he is about the work he makes.
At the unveiling Tunick took the media on a tour of the display, and rattled off a series of obviously pre-composed statements about the “meaning” of the work, the “contrast of the collection of bodies against the stark structures” or something of the sort, stumbling as if trying to remember his lines. At one point he pointed to a group of participants in a photograph, and stammered through an explanation of how he brings together a diverse group of people, all ages and ethnicities and body types. And it is true there are all types of people in his photos. But that’s because the participants fill in the space depending on how they happen to line up during the cattle-call. There is very little multiculturalism in effect at a Spencer Tunick photo shoot. And in case his stammering could be mistaken for nervousness about speaking in public, he then stood up and looked at the reporters, and spoke with a much more confident, clear voice. “If anyone wants to take a picture of me posing with the photos, let me know.” How nice.
Dan Renzi On Being Famous
It’s as if he read the Paris Hilton instruction manual of “How To Become Famous.” First, get some nudity, either yourself (Paris) or someone else (Spencer Tunick’s models). Second, put them on film. Third, pay a publicist a LOT of money, a lot lot lot to jump in front of every reporter possible and convince them the story should go on the internet and in the news. If you tell people to pay attention enough, eventually they will. Because the actual art? Really, they’re just some photos of a bunch of naked people on hotel balconies. It begs the question, Who cares?...
I have my complimentary print, if you want it. Or I might put it on eBay. I’m sure it will sell.
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"The Spencer Tunick Photos Do Not Impress"