Friday has once again come around and after a little hiatus, both Bijou & Boheme and Heirloom & Knot are excited to share with you our latest collaborative instalment in our ongoing Art Fair Fridays series, where we bring you weekly design inspiration and exclusive interviews with the talented artists that inspire our creativity on a daily basis.
This week we interviewed the amazingly talented Spencer Tunick, whose photographic work illustrates the transformation his subject matter, into the medium itself . Each of Tunick’s piece feels deeply layered, with moody undertones that unravel with each viewing. His work takse the human form and molds it like plasticine into stunning compositions that speak to a dialogue on culture, history and the human condition.
How long would you say you have been a professional artist and what has lead you to this point in your career?
Its hard to place a date on the moment in time when I would call myself a professional artist since the process was a gradual evolution and discovery which started in the early 90’s. For a few years, I was shooting individuals naked on the streets of the city. The works were fun and whimsical and sometimes striking but at some point I decided to shoot 25 people all together in front of the United Nations. It was that moment the work transformed into something else and that is when I really saw something that fascinated me. The bodies became more of a medium, like clay or paint, something more than the individual. I wanted to explore what would happen if I covered large pieces of the city with this new flesh medium. but if by professional artist you mean able to live from the making of art, that began when I started getting commissions from museums which started in 2004. The combination of commissions and the sales of actual framed photographs enabled me to survive solely of my art.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received about your art ?
Mostly not to give up in the face of arrest. My friends, family and lawyer expressed this to me during my 5 arrests involving the making of my art from 1995 – 1999.
Werner Herzog said: “There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.” I lived and continue to l I’ve this philosophy.
How would you describe your creative process?
I am often inspired by the meaning or history of a place or the culture of the people. I visit a place and try to imagine how 300-3000 bodies would appear within the landscape of the city . I enjoy imaging this as the streets turn the color of flesh in my mind, like a Color Field painting.
What is your favourite medium to work in?
I work with the naked human body. My medium is alive and has leg! I can move the medium with the help of the participants who are the medium. The body is the primary source of energy and the life force of my work. It never ceases to provide me with inspiration. Lately I am combining pigments with naked bodies, adding colors to the colors of human flesh and that is interesting to me and I’m excited to see where that takes the work.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
I would have to say that one of the biggest was 18,000+ mexican people coming out to pose in the Zocalo in Mexico City. That was an amazing morning and I’m really happy with the works that resulted from that day. I’ve also done some works where I was commissioned by Greenpeace. I have had the opportunity to bring awareness to environmental and social issues that I care deeply about especially climate change. To be able to live as an artist and also use my voice as an artist and my vision to make some kind of change in the world, or at least bring attention to issues, that has been a real highlight for sure.
How would you describe your signature style?
Creating a new substance by placing the nude body en masse within public spaces around the world.
Where do you find your greatest creative inspiration?
I am always inspired by other artists using performance and the body. I love the mid to late 60’s happenings and performance art of Carolee Schneemann and Yayio Kusama.
What do you think sets your work apart from other artists?
I think my work is unique because it is a true collaboration and exchange between the artist and the participant. I am very careful of advertising and sponsorship because I rely 100% on the trust and participation of the people that pose for me. Because of the large number of people that my work requires to create, I cannot possibly pay everyone that comes out to pose, instead I offer a photograph of the event to every participant. I think this shows a real and pure motivation on the part of the volunteers to be a part of a collaborative art process and community.
No. 1 Spencer Tunick – Reaction Zone – $75.00
No. 2 LCBO – Pol Roger Brut Champagne – $64.25
No. 3 Heirloom & Knot – Grey Waves Pillow 24 x 24 – $175.00
No. 4 Nine West Canada – Snooze Flat – $100.00
No. 5 Spencer Tunick – Participant – $65.00
No. 6 Paul Smith – Men’s Black Leather ‘Naked Lady’ Print Interior Billfold Wallet – $250.00
No. 7 Group Partner – Tanlines – $65.00
No. 8 Ron Dorff – Beach Towel Dune Nude – 75€
When you find an artist that does something you’ve never seen before, that’s real magic. The way Tunick uses the human form as his actual medium is insanely special and it was near impossible for me to pick my favourite 5…
So visually stunning.