Internationally recognised photographer Spencer Tunick, whose niche is large naked crowds, has turned his attention to Melbourne after last snapping Australians in all their glory on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in 2010.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on May 8, 2018

Renowned New York photographer Spencer Tunick has chosen Melbourne’s famed Chapel Street as the setting for his next mass nude shoot.

He last ventured to Australia in 2010 for an installation on the steps of the Opera House called ‘Mardi Gras: The Base’, where more than 5,000 intrepid volunteers got their kits off.

And way back in 2001 during Melbourne’s Fringe Festival, Tunick roped in about the same number of subjects for photos near Federation Square.

He has since held shoots at Munich’s Bavarian State Opera (pictured), in the Nevada desert, and in Hull, England, where participants were covered in blue paint to simulate a flood.

“Chapel Street reminds me of the East Village in New York, Sunset Strip in LA, and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, but all combined into one juggernaut,” said Tunick.

Despite the shoot taking place over two days in the middle of winter (July 7 and 10), the artist isn’t worried about the chill deterring hardy Melburnians.

“People from Melbourne are a little braver because of their willingness to pose no matter the weather. I get a sense of resilience and risk-taking,” he said.

Models must be at least 18, and Tunick wants to see people of “any shape, any size, any nationality, any ethnicity” participate.

“Of course, I’d like the 5,000 people who already participated many years ago to register, but I think we also need new blood and new experiences,” he added.

The work is to be titled Return of the Nude, and will coincide with the precinct’s winter arts festival Provocaré.

What past Tunick volunteers have to say

Journalist Hannah Tomes, who participated in the Hull shoot, described the experience as the “best and most surreal morning of my life”.

“The longer we waited to undress, the further my brain ventured into panicked overdrive. I was silently bombarding myself with questions: ‘Did I remember to shave my armpits?’, ‘Will people notice the freckle on my bum?’ and the big one: ‘What if I’m dyed Avatar blue forever?’,” she wrote in The Guardian.

“As it happens, my fears were totally unfounded; it was the best and most surreal morning of my life.”

Volunteers at Tunick’s Sydney exhibition also raved about the experience.

“I’ll never get a chance to do this again, it’s not worth being inhibited,” 19-year-old student Art Rush told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“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.”

English traveller Laura Higman, who also convinced her partner and friend to brave the rare opportunity, said “it was a really good experience”.

“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.”