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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 12:37 GMT
Venezuelans pose nude before hero
Nude volunteers prepare to pose for a photograph by US artist Spencer Tunick in Caracas, Venezuela

More than 1,500 men and women have stripped naked in the name of art in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The volunteers posed on a central avenue for New York photographer Spencer Tunick.

Directed by the artist through a loud hailer, they formed a human mosaic in front of a statue of independence hero Simon Bolivar - a national symbol.

Previous shoots have been held in France, the UK, Belgium, Spain and Brazil, as well as in the US.

Venezuelans of all ages gathered on Simon Bolivar Avenue and the stairs in front of the national hero's statue just before dawn.

The American photographer said he had chosen this place - a frequent spot for political rallies - because "it combines beauty and organised chaos".

'New experience'

"There are some people over there with clothes, get them out of there!" he shouted before starting the photo shoot.

For two hours, volunteers were asked to pose in a series of sometimes uncomfortable positions on the pavement.

I'm not going to tell my mother about this until I receive the print
Josefa Maria Briceno, volunteer

"It's a new experience. And beyond the disinhibition of taking off clothes, this also involves art," Jerry Lino, 30, who took part in the event told Reuters agency.

More than 7,800 people had reportedly signed up, but only some 1,500 showed up.

The photographer said that each volunteer would receive a print of the "human installation".

"I'm not going to tell my mother about this until I receive the print. She's going to think I'm crazy," Josefa Maria Briceno, 35, told the Associated Press news agency.

Tunick, 38, has been documenting groups of naked people in public places around the world since 1992.

He carried out his largest photo shoot in June 2003 in Barcelona, when 7,000 volunteers stripped for the camera.

He has been arrested several times while shooting in the United States.

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