On Jan. 14, 2016, the Arizona State University Art Museum opens the exhibition Participant: Photographs by Spencer Tunick from the Stéphane Janssen Collection, which includes more than 20 photographs by Spencer Tunick from 1997 to 2013 drawn from the collection of Stéphane Janssen. Tunick will give a gallery talk Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 1:30p.m., and both Tunick and Janssen will attend the exhibition opening Thursday, Jan. 14, from 57 p.m.
Since the early 1990s, Tunick has traveled the globe to create staged images of multiple nude figures in public settings. And since 2000, collector Stéphane Janssen has been a participant in Tunicks photographs, which have ranged from a handful of figures in an art museum to thousands of volunteers in the Dead Sea in Israel.
Janssen, who is now 80, posed for the first time on a street in Harlem, New York, with 25 other people. Most recently, Janssen was one of 1,000 people covered from head to toe in dramatic red and gold body paint in front of the opera house in Munich, Germany, a project commissioned to coincide with the presentation of Richard Wagners operas Der Ring Des Nibelungen, also known as the Ring Cycle.
All of Tunicks participants are volunteers who respond to an open call to appear at a time and place. They are carefully arranged and then photographed by the artist. The gathered human bodies sometimes recede, sometimes dominate the built and natural backdrops. They meld into a unified composition of abstract patterns and challenge conceptions of nudity, privacy and the ideal body.
These human installations combine elements of performance art, sculpture, land art and photography. They also reference street art and flash mobs, which bring temporary art and experiences into the public space, expanding the reach and impact of the work. Tunick's art practice explores the social, political and legal issues surrounding art in the public sphere.
The exhibition, which closes May 28, 2016, and the accompanying artists book are generously supported by Stéphane Janssen. The book is available in the Museum Store or from http://www.nakedpavementbooks.com/