Monday, June 09, 2003

From James Taranto:

All the Nudes That's Fit to Print

Reporting from Barcelona, the New York Times' Sarah Lyall describes her participation in an "art project" that involved 7,000 people doffing their clothes and crouching in a fetal position:

" "The moment you take your clothes off is the worst moment, but then you feel integrated," said Ángeles Rubio, 33, a shoe designer, who said it was not so bad for her as she was a nudist and vegetarian.

Not this reporter. Aside from being worried about losing my clothes altogether and being forced to wander the back streets of Barcelona with nothing on, I discovered that a notebook does not work as a makeshift skirt. It was embarrassing while naked to happen upon people I had already interviewed while dressed. One of Mr. Tunick's earlier projects, involving nude older women in Australia, began to seem like a better bet in terms of participatory journalism."

It's good to know that with the Howell Raines era behind it, the Times is returning to its tradition of serious newsgathering.

Yep. No dog doo. It really happened--check the Vanguardia or the Periódico if you want to see the pictures. For a full gallery of photos, click on "La tapiz humana de Spencer Tunick" over to the right of your screen when you go to the El Periódico link. The horror, the horror. The whole thing made the front page of the Vangua below the fold. Here's the scoop.

One Spencer Tunick, a New York "artist", called upon the people of Barcelona to come out and get photographed nude en masse. 15,000 people signed up and 7000 actually came out--at four in the morning--to get naked and get photographed on Avenida María Cristina near Montjuic. They're saying it's the "greatest collective artistic nudity" in history, breaking the record of some 4000 naked leftovers from the Sixties set by Tunick himself in Melbourne. Anyway, at 6:20 AM, Tunick decided the light was correct and posed the crowd two different ways, lying on their backs and curled up in a fetal position. He was finished by 7:45.

Says our intrepid reporter, Justo Barranco, "The most generalized feeling was that it was strange that the situation didn't seem strange," "We, all together, feel surprisingly like brothers and sisters," "Blai, a young teacher who came with his boyfriend, said, 'I thought it would be like a dream in which you wake up and you're naked and everyone else is too'," "People began doing "the wave" and shouting 'No to the war'," and "(Tunick) reminded us of the paradox that in Barcelona his work is celebrated as an "artistic happening" while in his country, the United States, and in his city, New York, it would have been considered a crime."

Oh, geez, here it is again, that part of the American Black Legend that says we are puritanical philistines. Nobody would have said boo if Mr. Alleged Artist put on his show in Central Park as long as he had a municipal permit, which they would have given him in the holy name of Art. It's New York. They've seen everything. This would be no big deal there, certainly not front-page news in the local newspapers.

If he'd tried to put this crap on in Central Park, though, the Great Unwashed would have stood around in enormous crouds hooting and hollering and generally making fun of the stupid assholes who get up at four in the morning and get naked in the chill dawn in order to promote the notoriety of (and make money for) a fraud calling himself an artist. Our New York volunteers would not have enjoyed themselves nearly as much as the collection of pseuds, wannabes, and phonies who make up our city's element of the Illustrated and the Enlightened and who showed up at Montjuic.

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