Over 1,000 strip off for US artist Tunick in Ireland

June 17th, 2008 - 10:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Cork (Ireland), June 17 (DPA) Just over 1,000 people bared all at dawn Tuesday to pose for a photo installation by US artist Spencer Tunick at Blarney Castle near Cork, south-west Ireland, in what proved a liberating experience for most participants. Speaking to reporters afterwards, who had waited since 2 am, Tunick said he was pleased that more than the expected 800 participants had arrived.

Tunick said: “I’m very happy that politicians and city counsellors accept it (the installation) as art and not a crime.”

The “very rebellious” element of Corkonians had not gone unnoticed either, he added, as some participants had greeted his assistants’ instructions with a mixture of delight and ridicule.

Describing the experience as “brilliant,” Helena Walsh from Galway, western Ireland, said: “It’s great that this was held in a country where it wouldn’t have been allowed 10 years ago.”

Another participant, who declined to be named, said the experience was “very different” and as “demystifying nudity”.

Public nudity is normally a crime in Ireland and it had earlier been unclear whether an exception would be made for Tunick’s art installations, held as part of Cork’s annual Midsummer festival.

On arrival at the castle, participants were greeted by three young men, dressed as priests and holding placards aloft in mock protest.

Blarney Castle is the site of the iconic Blarney Stone, or Stone of Eloquence, which tourists kiss in the belief it will give them the “gift of the gab”.

Tunick told reporters: “Maybe we’ll dip 75 people backward kissing the Blarney Stone.”

The sometimes controversial Tunick plans a second installation and landscape sculpture in Dublin’s Docklands area June 21.

One of his earlier installations focused on 18,000 people, who had bared all last year, in Mexico City.

Mary McCarthy, executive arts manager of Dublin Docklands Development Authority, has praised Tunick for his ability “to create extraordinary images of the collective body in the environment.”

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