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:: Naked States

Naked bodies make good stories, and art. Flesh will sell whatever the context, stripping back the confusion of man made ideals the raw shape can be confronting. Spencer Tunick uses the commonly used artistic symbol of naked bodies contrasted to their environment. Its more than that of course, he is the artist that got in trouble numerous times for placing naked bodies in public places. Naked States the documentary also gets to sell an interesting subject. Naked States will be independent filmmaker Arlene Donnelly's ticket to a wider audience; even sensationalism can work at smaller levels.
Naked States screens locally to coincide with the Melbourne Fringe Festival and a photographic visit from Spencer Tunich.

It is a journey across America for the artist to photograph as many naked people as possible in each of the states. The artist and team journey to take shots in familiar places such as Times Square, The Boston Library, bridges, war memorials and tourist attractions. The concept was a hand from or to Tunich's producer in marketing. It would show mostly American people in different setups across the country, compiled into a book or available to buy in an exhibition from the gallery of New York. Royalties would also come from the film. Such merchandising may overbleed the art value in some circles. The documentary is an expansion of a MTV Arts Break promo shot by Donnelly. What is impressive is the setup of the photos, involving large amounts of naked people. Multiple naked bodies gave a new lease on the use of nudity in art; it is what this artist does. In a competitive desire to be individual, Spencer Tunich displayed the largest number of naked people in a photograph breaking a world record. Shots across the great expanse of backgrounds rarely showed a tourist image of natural landscapes. This desire not having the bodies camouflaged by nature was something spelled via dialogue from Spencer to girlfriend.

The story is also about getting to know the artist. We meet his approving mum and grandmother and get to know his girlfriend. We even see him naked. The large character that asks hundreds of people to undress for his camera disrobes at a nudist beach to befriend some new talent. It is interesting to see how he handles the feeling of being without clothes.

Illustrating the feelings of the models develops the issues surrounding the use of nakedness. The reactions illustrated via interview initially support beliefs that stripping for artistic purposes is okay and can be help the models as a kind of therapy. A victim of rape told of her liberation. Hippie middle aged spoke of nudity generally. A small town girl spoke of a desire to live a crazy life, and others of not ‘regretting’ the opportunity. Everyone involved in a photo setup was willing to be in shots.
These models can be compared to the reaction to Spencer at a biker festival. The belief there was that posing naked was for pornographic purposes, and one father threatened Spencer after his daughter was asked if she would like to be in a shot. At the same festival one middle-aged woman, who had aspirations for Playboy and Bikie magazines was willing to pose. No matter the opinion on nudity, it is clearly a display of sexuality. There were exhibitionists within the nudist colony, those desiring for their body to be seen and appreciated. There was also some unexpected flashing at an artist' festival. It is unclear how much Spencer works with facial expression to illustrate a feeling. Much of the models naked time was a rush for setup, and their reaction to nudity appeared natural.

It is interesting that traditionally sexy body shapes may be seen as pornographic while ‘normal’ bodies; smaller breasts and body rolls can be seen as art. How much the art celebrates the body is up to the audience who can observe the differences or simply just perve. What is shown in Naked States is the making of some beautiful shots, and the story of an artist's road trip. The camera’s eye is Spencer's friend, and we appreciate the art. Look out for boyfriend / girlfriend arguments, those gallery shots, and bedroom home video.

Screening at the Lumiere Cinemas