Sunday, May 04, 2008

Here's Why

I mentioned somewhat flippantly the other day that I intend to take part in Spencer Tunick's installation in Dublin on June 21st. I neglected to explain why.

Some of the people I have told about it since have balked at the idea of taking part, as have some of the bloggers who have written about it. Aonghus is one, and the question he posed was an interesting one: will this "art" be remembered in twenty years time? In a century?

I would argue that yes it will. I will certainly have a memory of the event in 20 years time and I imagine that the other participants will too, as I doubt getting bollock naked in public is an everyday experience for many of them. Whether or not it enters the canon of great works of art remains to be seen. Personally I doubt that it will, but that would in no way dissuade me from taking part. It will be an event - not just a photograph (though I will have a limited edition one of those too, which is something the flatmates would probably prefer I didn't hang in the sitting room).

I have no idea what Tunick's art means, but I'm getting an idea of what it means to me. Aonghus mentioned that the images Tunick has published fill him more with a sense of horror than a sense of wonder and I can understand why. Tunick's photographs, regardless of the artist's intention, represent whatever we choose to see them as metaphors for. For me they can sometimes evoke images of genocide; the beauty of the naked human form smothered in the crowd, sensuous curves and seductive forms suffocated. They speak to me too of more positive things; of shared experience, of simplicity. Of how alien the unclothed body looks when framed by the city. Of vulnerability and fragility. As photos go, they're fierce talkative. But the mere fact of them appeals to me more than anything else. How often do crowds of hundreds, thousands even, come together voluntarily to create a work of art? That gives me a sense of hope.

I'm not one for prancing around in my smalls, much less for prancing around in my nothing-at-alls (I've written before about my insecurities). Taking part in the installation is going to present a major challenge to my confidence. I don't expect that it will help me to overcome my insecurities but at least it encourages me to engage with them. Besides, the rest of the folk there will presumably be suffering the same to a greater or lesser degree (I see mentions of shrinkage, inappropriate erections and - most worryingly - Guinness shits elsewhere) so there's some comfort in that. I chose the two pictures that accompanied my previous post deliberately because they represent my greatest fears about this installation; that we'll have to touch (shivers) or that it will end in a big mucky tangle of limbs (my third choice would have been the one where they're all bent over in rows - essentially looking up the arse of the person in front...). For all my bluster and bravado, it's going to be scary. But already it has opened fresh discussions in unlikely company on body image, self-confidence and decency. On that basis alone I think it is eminently worthwhile.

I think it will be an exceptional experience. I certainly fucking hope so - there's not much that gets me out of bed at 4.30am.


Darragh Doyle said...

Said it before, don't know how to say it better but fair play.

While I gave up worrying about the way I look and resigned myself to being oddly designed (and we'll leave it at that, thank thee very much) a good while ago, I'm also someone who wouldn't go topless on a beach, wear shorts in the summer or feel confident about being naked simply because it's not something I've ever done or felt the need to do so. Being a geek has that added advantage of not caring about sports. A whole social thing passes me by.

Therefore this opportunity is my way of proving to myself that I can do something like that and walk away at least saying I've done it.

I read your "fat bottomed girls" post and can understand your hesitance, but you know what, I'd love to be able to share with you my overwhelming - personal - feeling of just fuck it, it'll be a laugh. The worst that could happen is to be asked to leave for fear of frightening other people and somehow, in a country with as many different looks, styles and features as this one, I doubt that's going to happen to you.

Though it might to me. Now that would be funny!

Tim Footman said...

Actors who've done nude scenes consistently report that the experience is so boring and clinical, what with all the retakes and hovering technicians and remembering to moan in the right order, that the idea of an unwanted stiffy never even occurs.

I shall remember that the next time someone offers me several thousand quid to dry-hump Virginie Ledoyen.

And good luck. You'll be a small (and exceedingly attractive, I'm sure) segment of something rather magnificent.

backpedalbrakes said...

I'm applauding you over here, I've never worn a bikini in public let alone gotten my kit off with a bunch of strangers. It'll be unforgettable for sure...

aonghus said...

It wasn't so much the nakedness I was balking at (although I wouldn't do it) as the - to me - pointlessness of this kind of installation art. Whether it is naked crowds or dressed buildings, it's just a nine days wonder.

I take Roie's points about the personal benefits (although I don't sahre them) but I was puzzled by her sense of hope.

I think I understand slightly better now.

Anois, is leor sin den Bhéarla.
Go n-eirí leat!

Thriftcriminal said...

I meant my praise in a previous comment. I think the pictures are good and will be remembered. I like them, a lot more that a bifurcated preserved cow in any case. They are vaguely fascinating (not in a smutty way) and as you say it is the juxtaposition of people in the barest element with more normal everyday scenery that makes them interesting. I think I should be reminded of the image of the St. Bartholomew's day massacre that adorned one of my history books, but it doesn't, there is a definite sense of life about them. Defiance even (at the individual level).

Annie Rhiannon said...

I think it'll be great craic. I used to hate being naked in front of people, but then I went to Iceland and had to get over it what with all the communal showers etc.

I like the guy's photos, it's an interesting idea. The kind of thing lots of people talk about doing, but he was the one who actually got around to it.

And I look forward to seeing you in the buff.

Rua said...

Normally, when people are doing stuff like that my advice is simple "fuck it, do it, worst case scenario you learn not to do it again".
Plus you'll feel cocky as shit for about a month after and on-the-day giggles will no doubt be immense

good luck and take speed

Rosie said...

thank you, Darragh. and thank you too, Tim, compliments from far away strangers who have never met me are always most welcome.

you sure you won't join in, Catherine? as i've said, i'm no exhibitionist either.

different strokes, Aonghus. mar a léiríonn Thrifty, their beauty (or not) is very much in the eye of the beholder. ultimately all art is pointless, think that's kind of the point.

will be great craic, Annie? are you knicker-dropping too? or just playing "where's wally" with the finished article?

[is now imagining everyone she knows doing just that, and blanching in fear]

speed at 5am, Rua? i was thinking of just making a late night of it on the friday - my inhibitions are usually pretty low by 5am on a saturday morning anyway.

aonghus said...

Is fíor dhuit nach lia duine ná tuairim, ach maidir le gach saothar ealaíona a bheith gan sprioc, ní dóigh liom é.

Tá roinnt smaointe agam do bhlagmhír ar an ábhar, ach táim ró thuirseach anocht.

Anonymous said...

Do we have to get up at 4:30am to come witness it, or will you post your photos on your blog ????

Rosie said...

alas, my anonymous friend, i shall not be taking part after all. last saturday i booked a holiday with a couple of friends and we're travelling from the 19th to the 27th... so while naked photos of me on my blog would have been fun, you'll just have to use your imaginations.

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