Friday, March 30, 2007

A Serious Case Of Conceptual Pornography Art

Spencer Tunick is an artist who takes pictures of naked people. I saw an interview with the guy on Rove Live once. It went something like this.
ROVE: In the studio with me today, I have Spencer Tunick. Spencer, what do you do?

SPENCER: I take photographs of naked people.

ROVE: Why do you take photographs of naked people?

SPENCER: I am a conceptual artist.
And that was it. He clearly didn't go in much for introspective personal analysis. And he didn't really have any explanation, just a punchline: 'I am a conceptual artist'.

I still don't know why he's not taking pictures for Playboy. What's the difference between taking pictures of naked people and selling them as porn, and taking pictures of naked people and selling them as conceptual art?

And it's not as if nakedness is so revolutionary now anyway: ancient Greek artists were taking pictures of naked people, only they used up more chisels and blocks of marble. Tunick pretty much does the same thing, only more so - instead of having one naked person, he'll throw naked people all over the place. People crowd up to be the naked people in his photographs of naked people.
There's a documentary about Spencer Tunick on television at the moment, and I just saw one naked woman in Melbourne break down. "That was the most beautiful experience I had in my life!" she sobs (collapsing in the arms of the HIV positive 'Health Supervisor' for the whole event). A few moments earlier she had been telling us how wonderfully calming the whole thing was.
Spencer waddles through all this with a compulsive grin on his face, the grin of a man who thinks he is doing something naughty but has forgotten what.

Apparently Spencer describes himself as a serious conceptual artist, though it's possible this guy hasn't had a new concept for a long time. I think he should take up a job selling ads for Hustler magazine.

Just conceptually, of course.

Mummy, when I grow up, I want to take pictures of naked people but it won't be porn.

Spencer Tunick quotes:

"It has to be me... they don't have to be technically good shots..."

"It's certainly exciting to be in the show with a lot of these artists. It's great!"

"I think the Brazilians are getting too close to my photographs."


Don Quixote said...

"What's the difference between taking pictures of naked people and selling them as porn, and taking pictures of naked people and selling them as conceptual art?"

That very question is the concept that informs his art; or, at least, I suspect he'd say something along those lines.

It seems like a lot of so called artists these days are simply having a good chuckle at what they can pass off as possessing meaning.

TimT said...

It's just possible, which is why I added that line about Spencer wearing the 'grin of a man who thinks he is doing something naughty, but has forgotten what'.

But what's amazing about the documentary is the amount of people who are unable to think about anything so complicated. Just as Spencer takes photographs of naked people, conceptually, so the director of the Melbourne Fringe festival, pays Spencer Tunick big money because he is "an important artist".

That's it? Art is nudes being taken conceptually, or something that people pay lots of money for? The definition lacks a certain something...

Good to see you, DQ. (Not that I'm 'seeing you' seeing you, but still, nice to have you round in comments.) How are things?

Caz said...

I have always understood that the purpose of Brazilians was, in fact, to get closer.

Have I been mislead?

TimT said...

No more than the Brazilians themselves.

Don Quixote said...

Things are good at the moment Mr. Train. Thanks for the inquiry. I look forward to the next installment of your annual bi-monthly omnibus!

Fatman said...

I think the difference is about $200 bucks a shot. And you can have a collection of Spencer Tunick photographs as a coffee table book but if you leave your Playboys in the lounge room you are a pervert who molests women with your eyes.

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