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Artist Spencer Tunick wants volunteers for mass nude photo shoot in Sydney

<i>Spencer Tunick</i><br/>Artist Spencer Tunick is once again asking thousands of volunteers to get naked for one of his iconic mass nude photo shoots. Thousands are pictured here by the Sydney Harbor Bridge for Tunick's shot in 2010.
Spencer Tunick
Artist Spencer Tunick is once again asking thousands of volunteers to get naked for one of his iconic mass nude photo shoots. Thousands are pictured here by the Sydney Harbor Bridge for Tunick's shot in 2010.

Christian Edwards, CNN

Artist Spencer Tunick is once again asking thousands of volunteers to get naked for one of his iconic mass nude photo shoots.

The American artist is returning to Sydney — where in 2010 some 5,500 people descended on the city’s famous Opera House — to stage his next “nude installation,” in order to raise awareness of skin cancer.

A flesh-baring crowd will assemble on a beach in Sydney on November 26, in a gathering that is half-artwork, half-public health campaign.

The photographer is partnering with Skin Check Champions, a charity that runs free, educational skin check clinics. The installation will coincide with Australia’s National Skin Cancer Action Week, when Scott Maggs, the founder of the charity, will be urging everyone in the country to get a skin check.

Maggs founded Skin Check Champions in 2010, after his friend Wes Bonny was died of skin cancer at the age of 26. The charity has since received endorsements from the likes of businessman Richard Branson — and is hoping Tunick’s stark photos will draw global attention to the disease.

“We’re aiming for a minimum of 2,000 participants to represent the 2,000+ Aussies that are killed by skin cancer every year,” said Maggs in a press release.

“If the Sydney Opera House can get 5,500 on a cold morning in March 2010, we’re hoping to reach our goal of 2,500,” he said. “Everyone is welcome to participate, we welcome all body types, genders, and race – with a passion to stop skin cancer in its tracks.”

Tunick said in a statement that it was “an honor to be a part of an art mission to raise awareness of the importance of skin checks” — and added that he himself would be benefiting from the campaign, having been convinced to get his first skin check in 10 years.

Whereas other artists use paint, pastels, charcoal, clay and more, the defining material in Tunick’s oeuvre is skin.

“I use the amazing array of body types and skin tones to create my work, so it feels perfectly appropriate to take part in this effort in that my medium is the nude human form,” Tunick said.

Speaking with CNN in May 2020 about his previous shoot, Tunick said: “My work is getting nude people as close as possible to form an abstraction.”

Tunick uses his art to destigmatize nudity and encourage people to “respect the human body as an art form, like a painting or a sculpture,” he told CNN at the time.

Tunick has staged around 100 large-scale nude photos in public places around the world, from Munich to Mexico City, where he shot a reported 18,000 naked participants.

But these shoots are not easy. As thousands of volunteers strip off, city officials have been known to intervene — leading to Tunick’s arrest on multiple occasions.

Tunick was once caught in a dispute between the US Supreme Court and New York’s then-mayor Rudi Giuliani, who believed the city would be “irreparably harmed” if one of the shoots were staged there.

In 2018, an Australian supermarket chain banned Tunick from holding a shoot in the parking lot of one of its Melbourne stores — a decision that was eventually overturned following a high-profile petition.

The latest installation will be Tunick’s fourth in Australia. Volunteers can register to “Strip Off for Skin Cancer” online.

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