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Sunday, 27 May, 2001, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Canadians flock to strip off
Nude Canadians pose for Spencer Tunick
Tunick's work juxterposes the vulnerable human body with a harsh outside world
A leading New York artist has praised Montreal as a "very open minded and progressive city" after authorities allowed more than 2,000 people to strip naked in the streets for his latest project.

Spencer Tunick famed for photographing nude crowds in urban landscapes says he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm he found for the project among volunteers in one of Canada's largest cities.

Photographer Spencer Tunick
Tunick: Not good or bad art, just art
Similar group photo sessions have taken in cities such as San Francisco, London and Jerusalem, but on Saturday Tunick said he was impressed by the turnout, which topped all previous nude shoots.

Old, young, large, small enthusiastically braved the dawn chills to lie naked in the Place des Arts for an hour - all strictly monitored by the city's police force.

'At ease'

Tunick's latest "human sculpture" is part of his Nude Adrift series, which will take him to every continent, including Antarctica to snap nudes.

Once everyone was naked, it didn't really matter that everyone was naked, because everyone was naked

Canadian nude model
His latest models, whose picture will be on display at Montreal's Museum of Contemporary Arts next month, were first asked to lie on the ground curled up.

They were then told to lie face up for the second shot.

There are reports that three of the volunteers tried to make a run for it - but their attempt escape was foiled when they tried to run into a shopping centre but discovered the doors were locked.

For the majority, however, appearing in the nude could not have been more natural.

Nude not lewd

Nude Canadians pose for Spencer Tunick
Subjects felt "energised" and "at ease"
"I feel extremely energized," said Jean-Pierre Leclerq, 41, after taking part in the session, "It was a lot fun. Nobody was uncomfortable, we all seemed very at ease."

Another said he didn't feel awkward because "Once everyone was naked, it didn't really matter that everyone was naked, because everyone was naked."

Thrilled that the performance had gone without a hitch, the photographer thanked the city of Montreal for "recognising this as art".

"This is art. Not good art or bad art, but it's art."

He said his project is designed to highlight humanity's collective vulnerability in a harsh world.

"It's an abstraction, that seeps into and onto the pavement, that creates a sense of vulnerability to the body juxtaposed (against) a very harsh outside world with many things coming against us," he said after the shoot.

"Environmental issues, social issues, anything coming up against the body, which is pure. So this is where the body tries to overpower the street."

See also:

23 Mar 01 | UK
27 Dec 00 | Europe
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