The production of the nudescape genre is a participatory act that allows nude people to own or claim a given space in a way much more organic and immediate than they would if they were wearing clothes. It’s an act of subversion made utterly acceptable by strength in numbers, and because of the idea of the nudescape event as a special occasion. Those who participate can enjoy a communal, maybe even spiritual, act of citizenship in a subversion so radical that it is, in some ways, sacred.
And even those who do not disrobe for the photograph but only view the event, or view the photos at removes of time and space, can still participate vicariously in the knowledge that this kind of act -a logistics miracle?- can in fact be organized, populated, carried out and commemorated for the benefit of all.
|Photo of Tunick nudescape, Mexico City Zócalo, from bbcmundo.com|
Nude beaches and clubs have been hosting these kinds of photos since long before Mr. Tunick was born, of course. It’s a grand tradition of benevolent exhibitionsim that benefits anyone who can see the photos in a broad educational sense: nudists using their bodies to form a pyramid on the beach, or to spell the letters of the word “PEACE” in a field. But nudescapes in recognizable public and civic locales, such as the Mexico City Zócalo or the Sydney Opera House, have the most power to consecrate public, communal nudity. Even those who insist on seeing nudescapes as stunts must admit that the turnout is formidable. The same can be said for the World Naked Bikeride, in its many manifestations such as San Francisco’s Bare to Breakers or São Paulo’s Pedalada Pelada: throngs of people, enabled by the vulnerability and absolute sincerity of their nudity, take over a landscape in a temporary coup. They populate that landscape in a way that brings more value to it through their own increased intimacy with it.
So we need an army of Tunick apprentices who can bring the practice of the nudescape genre to Anytown, Anystate, Anywhere and make it as much a part of civic pride as a parade is, or an election, or the dedication of a new school or hospital. If the nudescape, or the naked bikeride, were no longer as subversive, would it lose its appeal? I doubt it; its communally affirmative character is too strong. But we’ll never know until nudescapes become as frequent and commonplace as the local Sunday paper.