2004 Spencer Tunick
We got naked with 2,700 strangers in Cleveland (May). We had gone to MOCA Cleveland to see an exhibit by Spencer Tunic. Coincidentally, he was doing an installation in Cleveland soon, so I signed us up. I figured it was the only way we would end up in a museum.
This certainly made the local newspapers, as well as national and international. File:SpencerTunick.pdf
Spencer Tunick does these photographs of groups of naked people in interesting poses, basically painting the scenes with bodies. I’d seen a cable special on it, and we went to see his works at MOCA (Cleveland’s Modern and Contemporary Art Museum).
A reporter from the Plain Dealer asked me and my wife on that cold morning, “What inspires someone to do a public display of nudity?”
The answer was simple and complex. I replied, "To me, the sea of humanity and nudity, in front of man-made monuments sort of juxtaposes our significance and utter insignificance, our individuality with our total lack of anything special. We take ourselves all too seriously, but we’re really just a bunch of naked apes with visions of grandeur. When you strip off our clothes and pretenses, we’re all very similar and still unique. We get obsessed with sex and mating rituals, but really our modesty is overblown: strip us down, and put us in a crowd, and what does it really matter?"
That was too long winded and deep to be quotable; I lost the reporter at “juxtapose”. She thought we were “dare-devils”, but it was just to support “art”, have a fond memory/story, and maybe make a very tiny mark in the world, if the photo ever became known.
What did we learn?
Once you see people naked, you do get to know them a little better, in a perverse sort of way. Also without clothes it's harder to identify people in crowds (less to landmark on). You don't realize how much you use clothing to shortcut who is who in a group, until you have to look every person coming at you in the face to tell one person from another. And strangers get mental nicknames. Instead of "red dress", or "slacker", you think of them as "Shaves into a Heart", “Prince Albert”, and so on. Well, maybe I wasn't looking into just their face. But whether thin, fat, died, pieced or scarred, everyone is just flesh, and going to stink up the joint once they pass. (Some sooner than that). It left you sort of both dehumanized and feeling like we really are more alike than different.